When war broke out in Ukraine last year, Daumantas Dvilinskas and his team at TransferGo quickly realized the intensifying need for money-transferring services like theirs.
Ukrainians were suddenly thrust into a world of combat with Russia and required immediate help to maintain their lives while existing in a war zone. Their families, friends, and others would immediately seek ways to send money to them.
“When the war broke out in February last year, there was a morning when we woke up to this new reality,” said Dvilinskas, a Lithuanian co-founding CEO of the London-based fintech firm.
“At that point in time, the decision was made by myself and the leadership of the company that we are now for the next month or so, we are no longer a Pan-European business, we’re a Ukrainian business — all hands on deck — to try to ensure that the quality of services maintaining because our partners had to process payments in bunkers or hideouts.”
Work continues to reduce fees.
The moves to help Ukraine fit with TransferGo’s stated primary goal: to increase the accessibility of transfers to migrants who make regular payments to their families at home by reducing costs and facilitating same-day purchasing power.
In the wake of the start of the war in Ukraine, several international money transfer providers, including TransferGo, temporarily offered free services for Ukrainians and fee waivers on sending money to the beleaguered country.
Today, work continues among players in the international money transfer field to keep remittance fees to Ukraine low.
“Those payout partners, on the other side, are the true heroes and what they were doing. (We thought) ‘what is the least we can do? How can we at least lower the cost even more to support people?'” said Dvilinskas.
“So we lowered it ourselves, first of all, and then started communication with our partners: there’s a problem; how can we solve this together? We’re very happy to say that big organizations like Visa and MasterCard really responded to that and said they were working on something as well, so they could help us. Then one thing led to another, and we did that.”
On Feb. 28 this year, TransferGo — authorized and regulated by the Bank of Lithuania — along with representatives of Visa, Mastercard, the European Central Bank, and other market leaders, announced they have signed a pledge to lower the transfer fees to Ukraine, setting it under three percent.
The lower fees are expected to save Ukrainians at least $20 million annually.
TransferGo facilitates $500M-plus in remittances annually to Ukraine
Over the last seven years, TransferGo has become a significant player in the remittance market to Ukraine. The fintech facilitates the transfer of more than $500 million annually to Ukraine from Europe. It accounts for more than 40 percent of the total remittances to the country in the European market.
According to the World Bank, the average fee for transfers to Ukraine is seven percent.
For Mairead McGuinness, who serves as the European commissioner for financial stability, financial services, and the Capital Markets Union, finding solutions such as this effort to lower transfer fees to help Ukrainians living abroad to send money home to their relatives is a firm example of European solidarity.
The Irish politician said in a statement she hopes more remittance providers join those already lowering their fees.
“As the war continues, so too does our support for Ukraine. The people of Ukraine are suffering the horrible consequences of war,” she said.
“Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable. I welcome that EU and Ukrainian companies active in remittances have come together to achieve this objective. We are open to and would welcome more providers joining the statement for affordable, accessible, and transparent remittance services to Ukraine.”