WorldFirst vs. Wise: Side-by-Side Comparison

In the search for the best way to handle cross-border payments, picking the right service is key, whether you're a personal or business customer. For businesses looking to grow internationally or those frustrated with traditional banks, a digital platform might be a good alternative. Both Wise and WorldFirst position themselves as budget-friendly choices for managing funds in different currencies. Yet, there are clear differences between the two. This review will take a closer look at the currencies available, features, fees, customer feedback, and the main differences between the two services. Let's get into the details!

💡 This review is published on a MultiPass website, a UK-based multi-currency payment provider for business. While MultiPass competes in this space, we aim to offer an unbiased comparison of WorldFirst and Wise based on industry expertise, public data, customer reviews, and insights from clients who have interacted with our competitors to help inform your decision. We encourage you to consider all options and choose the service that best suits your needs. This review is based on the latest data as of April 2024.

WorldFirst vs. Wise: Brief overview

worldfirst vs wise general info

About WorldFirst

WorldFirst is a financial services provider specialising in international payments and currency exchange, founded in London in 2004. Previously serving both individuals and entities, it now focuses only on business customers, primarily online sellers and international trade companies in the UK, EU, Canada and Asia-Pacific regions. In 2019 the company was acquired by Ant Group (the owner of Alipay and affiliate company of Alibaba Group) and since then grew considerably in Southeast Asia markets, especially in China. The company prides itself on offering competitive, secure, and easy-to-use services for its worldwide customer base.

WorldFirst is not a bank. The company holds various e-money and payment institution licences in the UK, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

About Wise (formerly Transferwise)

Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is a UK-based global fintech company founded by two Estonian entrepreneurs in London in 2011. Primarily focusing on individuals living, working, and travelling abroad, it also serves freelancers and SMEs seeking efficient multicurrency payment solutions. Wise operates in over 80 countries, including key markets in the UK, EU, US, and Asia-Pacific regions. The company distinguishes itself with a commitment to using the real exchange rate, charging only minimal, transparent fees, which contrasts with traditional banking services' often opaque cost structures.

Wise is not a bank but is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and holds relevant licenses and registrations in other jurisdictions.

For ease of perception, we are comparing both companies' offers for the UK market. Please keep in mind that services and fees may differ for businesses registered in other jurisdictions; we recommend double-checking their availability for your location.

WorldFirst vs. Wise: Ease of account opening

Application review

When it comes to onboarding, accounts with both these international money transfer services can be opened remotely, an option that is generally unavailable with traditional bank accounts. WorldFirst requires UK businesses to initially submit only basic information about the company, including the Companies House registration number along with photos of personal IDs of the account holder and shareholders, and to complete the account holder's identity verification online. The application is then reviewed within 2 days.

Wise initially asks for a bit more documentation, including proof of ownership or control of the company, name, date of birth, and country of residence for all stakeholders along with verification of the account holder and any other team members that you'd like to have access to the account. Additionally, they require an upfront payment of a setup fee (£45 for the UK) that will be refunded if they can't onboard you. The application is then reviewed in up to 10 days.

Keep in mind that in both cases you could be asked to provide additional documentation to prove the eligibility of your business for an account.

Supported industries

Both services do not explicitly state that they refuse certain businesses, only listing a standard set of prohibited industries, such as cryptocurrency, adult entertainment and others. However, they reserve the right to reject any business that falls outside their risk appetite. Given the size of these companies and the number of banking relationships they maintain, they must be very strict in their compliance efforts. Businesses with foreign ownership or operating in industries generally considered high risk may have a reduced chance of being onboarded unless these are large clients with substantial transaction volumes and established reputations.

Comparing accounts, currencies and features

Currencies & Account details

Both platforms offer over 10 different local account details sets in several currencies, making it easy to receive payments from foreign businesses and marketplaces. While major currencies like GBP, EUR, and USD are supported by both services, WorldFirst is stronger in the Asian region, whereas Wise provides more options for European markets (see table below). Additionally, Wise offers payment links.

Both facilitate money transfer service in over 40 currencies; however, Wise has access to more local payout methods, which might be quicker and often less expensive than just sending money internationally as a standard SWIFT bank transfer.

Corporate cards & must-haves

  • Corporate debit card and mobile app are only offered by Wise
  • Multi-user access and bulk payments are offered by both services. WorldFirst has a limit of 200 payments in a single bulk while Wise has a limit of 1,000.

Additional features

Specifically targeting import and export businesses and those that closely monitor exchange rate fluctuations, WorldFirst provides several additional features such as forward contracts, spot contracts, and FX rate orders.

Wise, in its turn, being a more versatile multi-currency business account, has a range of features suitable for new entrepreneurs and small businesses, such as integrations with various accounting tools as well as investment opportunities.

worldfirst vs wise features

WorldFirst vs. Wise: Exchange rates and payment fees

Both services are complete opposites in terms of their fee transparency. Wise offers their fees upfront and you don't need to be a customer to check them – their calculator is available on the website, where you will find their fixed, variable and any other additional fees for each payment. Please note that the fees displayed can change based on a variety of factors. These include the currencies involved, payment method, originator/recipient countries, payment volume and others. Moreover, users can select their business location in the top menu on the website, which then adjusts the content and pricing information accordingly.

WorldFirst charges no opening or account maintenance fees, however, they add an exchange rate margin of up to 0.75% and payment fees. The website only indicates fees starting from £0.30 per payment, meaning they can vary greatly from case to case. However, they mention that for companies with turnovers of over £100,000 monthly, bespoke fees can be negotiated.

worldfirst vs wise payments

Which service is faster?

The speed of international money transfers usually depends on many factors, including the chosen payment method, payment volume, payment sending time and others. However, domestic payments are generally processed much quicker than international SWIFT transfers – within seconds, hours or a business day. Considering Wise has access to domestic payouts in a wider list of currencies, you can assume Wise may be a faster service, however, it ultimately depends on the currencies you are planning to send/receive and the location of the recipient's bank account.

Which service offers better support?

This is where WorldFirst has the upper hand over Wise. Although dedicated manager support is not guaranteed for all businesses – which means you could end up speaking to a different person each time you have a query or issue – WorldFirst is commended for its accessibility. Customers can easily contact the company by phone from various locations around the world. The reviewers on Trustpilot report the service team support as timely and efficient.

Wise offers customer support primarily through its online help centre and digital channels like email and in-app messaging. Direct phone support is unavailable, which might be a drawback for customers preferring personal interaction or having time-sensitive assistance requests.

worldfirst vs wise support


What WorldFirst does well

  • Strong presence in Asian markets
  • Additional FX features
  • Customer support

Where WorldFirst could improve

  • Greater fee transparency
  • Additional local payment methods
  • Introduce app and corporate cards

Who will benefit most from WorldFirst business account

International trade companies that are either based in or have significant dealings with the Asia-Pacific region that are sensitive to exchange rate volatility will find WorldFirst's services particularly advantageous, given its strong market presence and tailored service offerings in these areas.

Additionally, e-commerce companies and those selling on marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba and others can take advantage of WorldFirst's local accounts in 10+ currencies to collect payments directly in the currency their customers are shopping in.

What Wise does well

  • Transparent fees and real exchange rates
  • A lot of domestic payment methods
  • Digital innovation and convenience

Where Wise could improve

  • Direct customer support
  • Financial inclusivity for businesses requiring more thorough onboarding

Who will benefit most from Wise business account

Freelancers and SMEs looking for efficient, cost-effective multicurrency management solutions will find Wise’s services especially beneficial. This is especially true if your business model is simple, with clear and predictable payment flows that are unlikely to cause payments to be delayed for additional review and compliance checks.

The platform’s simplicity, combined with its fee transparency and a comprehensive set of must-have features for a small business (such as cards, mobile app support, integration with accounting software and others) makes it an attractive option for smaller businesses managing international transactions.

What Wise and WorldFirst don't offer

Although both services can serve a wide range of companies, there are many cases where other alternatives like MultiPass might suit you better.

More exotic currencies for business

Although the dollar continues to dominate cross-border transactions, paying in local currencies can often be more advantageous. With MultiPass you can receive and send money overseas in 70 currencies, including Saudi Riyal, Bahraini Dinar and many others, along with bank-beating exchange rates and a broad payment reach that spans over 200 countries worldwide.

Onboarding of more complex business cases

The burden of ensuring compliance and staying abreast of regulatory changes in multiple countries of their operation can be daunting for larger financial institutions like Wise or WorldFirst, leading to a preference for working with less complex businesses. This approach can unfortunately leave numerous legitimate businesses, or even entire industry sectors underbanked.

Solutions for businesses in high-risk industries often involve seeking out specialised financial service providers that cater to their sectors, and working closely with regulators to demonstrate their compliance and reliability. At MultPass, we approach each client case with the attention it deserves. You will be partnered with a dedicated onboarding specialist who will guide you through every step, ensuring a smooth onboarding without the risk of wasting your valuable time.

Dedicated manager support

Some of the most common cross-border payment issues faced by businesses are payment delays, unexpected compliance checks, or even blocked funds, which can last for weeks or months. Such issues can disrupt your cash flow and damage your business credibility. Tackling these problems often becomes a daunting task, especially when trying to speak directly with a bank or payment provider about your concerns turns out to be a dead end. We understand how frustrating that is.

With MultiPass you will have a professional banking expert assigned to your business, a person who understands your business and its payments. You will always be in touch through your preferred communication method – be it WhatsApp, Telegram, phone, email, or any other. Our aim goes beyond just being a money transfer company offering an alternative to your bank account; we are here to be your partner in international growth, ensuring your payments are always on time.

Streamline your international business payments with MultiPass

Do business easily across borders from a multi-currency IBAN, local account details in the US, EU, UK, and payments in 70+ currencies across over 200 countries. Plus, enjoy bank-beating exchange rates, corporate expense cards, batch payments and other convenient features. Apply today or contact us for a free consultation!

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