By Anna Irrera
NEW YORK (Reuters) - London-based startup TransferWise has launched a new service in the UK and Europe that will make it easier for small businesses to keep money and get paid in more than 15 currencies, as the company branches beyond its core money transfer business.
Similar to having a bank account in multiple countries, the new service will allow small businesses to activate unique account and routing numbers for the United States, UK and the rest of Europe and get paid as if they were a local company, TransferWise said on Tuesday.
Users will be able to hold balances in currencies they may need later or convert money between currencies in real-time, spending less on conversion fees and hedging against exchange rate fluctuations, TransferWise said.
The new service will be available to U.S. businesses in June and to consumers later this year, the company said. It also plans to launch a debit card connected to the new account for both businesses and consumers, it added
The move marks a new business line for TransferWise, which has so far focused on enabling consumers and small businesses to send money internationally online.
"The infrastructure we've built can help people do more than just transfer money," said Taavet Hinrikus, chief executive officer and co-founder of TransferWise. "Business banking is notoriously expensive and difficult to set up and manage. Based
on what we heard from our customers, we thought TransferWise could do something to help."
The six-year-old startup is among young technology companies seeking to offer more user friendly and cheap financial services.
Like TransferWise, many of the most well-known fintech companies have been expanding into offering a broader set of financial services over the past year.
Student lender Social Finance, known as SoFi, launched a digital financial advice platform last week, while online investment manager Wealthfront branched out into lending earlier this year.
TransferWise, which announced it had reached profitability for the first time at the start of 2017, currently processes more than $1 billion monthly in money transfers across 750 currency routes.
(Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)