Kristo Käärmann explains TransferWise | One of the Best Ways to Transfer Money Abroad

The above film centres on Kristo Käärmann who co-founded TransferWise.

Key Points from Kristo Käärmann | TransferWise:

  • TransferWise makes international transfers super cheap by having reserves in both sides of the transaction rather than doing what institutions do;
  • Banks can’t reduce their rates now in Kristo’s opinion because then those rate changing banks would have to admit that their international fees are bogus;
  • TransferWise’s marketing is built on attacking banks. That plays well in London and elsewhere;
  • Trying to raise money in London, UK is difficult. You should not spend too much time iterating in order to meet prospective investor demand. With one trip to New York, TransferWise got 1.3 million USD;
  • During the Brexit, TransferWise dealt with the crisis professionally by being transparent. On June 24th, there was no service because of the fee fluctuation;
  • BlockChain is interesting, BitCoin is not;
  • Richard Branson likes sticking it to the man. He was interested in the idea and the approach but TransferWise was too small. Branson joined a significant round of funding. That endorsement was rather valuable as a marketing mechanism.

Background on Kristo Käärmann

Kristo is executive founder of TransferWise. TransferWise is backed by a fantastic team of smart investors who believe that there’s a dire need for innovation in financial services. In addition to the great institutional investors below, they are supported by private individuals who founded or are building Virgin, PayPal, Skype, Betfair, and others.

Kristo lived and breathed the world of finance from the inside. At PwC and Deloitte, he helped banks and insurers bring their processes and systems into the 21st century. But stunned by the inefficiency of financial institutions, he wanted to do more. At TransferWise, he is in charge of all operations activities, technology, development, compliance and regulatory issues.

Did you know that Richard Branson also invested in TransferWise?

Flying Boards In Our Near Future?

This guy’s flying board might be the future of something….Some points; I wouldn’t fly over anything other than water. Would you? I also think that the flying board is very very loud. N.I.M.B.Y not in my back yard please. This flying board could be the basis of sport however. This product will almost certainly require a license to fly. Once it gets down to the right price point, would you want to fly around? To be determined.

Tech Trends: Kevin Kelly’s 3 out of 12 Inevitable Tech Forces…

Kelly Predicts The Future…Again

Kevin Kelly is a founding editor at Wired magazine. As such, he has made some interesting predictions (a thousand true fans, for example) in many fields from technology to cultural and societal change. Of course, Kelly, along with Kurzweil and other futurists, have been  wrong. As Yogi Berra famously said “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” These futurists are often semi-correct and semi-wrong which is due likely to the fact that innovation is inefficient, iterative and test based. Invention has to be created in the practical sense.

Kelly’s new book The Inevitable charts 12 tech development tech trends where he sees technological innovation thriving and defining our futures. By 2036, people will look back and wonder how it is that humans thought they were using the “internet” when in reality, the  true “internet” hadn’t really been invented yet……The exciting take away from Kelly’s talk is that  it is never too late to get on the path to testing ideas; you are only limited by your willingness to try.

Three areas of focus in the above presentation:


Artificial Intelligent colleagues will need to have good relations with other employees. Employees will be evaluated not by productivity but by innovation/art/creativity (inefficient processes). Many new business opportunities will emerge from old products that will be married (in some way) to AI. Labour markets will not need to be recover from AI replacement but rather our economy will continue to evolve with humans leading in ideas and creativity rather than focusing on manual labour.


Virtual Reality will increasingly be a significant area of development. The internet of experiences will emerge. Experiential events will be an emerging entertainment format. Social VR platforms are an emerging space to watch out for….


Personal assistants and tracking/personalisation will increase. BUT, Kelly advocated that we make the tracking more comfortable. Co-valiance is critical (I know who is tracking me and there is a way to correct personal settings that aren’t to my liking and I and the data miners both mutually benefit from tracking). New research shows that vanity trumps privacy: most of us are looking to be tracked for increased personalization of services……..

How large is the US National Debt?

How large is the US National Debt? Seymour Durst created the physical clock on Sixth Avenue in New York city in order to visually articulate the US governments gross national debt. In the chart below, I have laid out how the Debt to GDP ratio has evolved over the 2nd half of the 20th century. At the present rate, the debt will be 20 trillion by 2017.

US National Debt as Percentage of GDP

How Could The Republican Convention Have Been Better

I daydream, regardless of partisanship, how might the RNC 2016 convention have been saved?

In US politics, the core objective of a major party convention is to create four days of propaganda for the nominee. The Republicans were light on policy in 2012 and heavy on the boring with the exception of the gaffes from the unlikely spontaneity of Clint Eastwood. Romney received no bounce after the convention and lost anyway. Surely in 2016, someone with the media savvy, charisma and viral-headline appeal could shake things up?

[Enter Trump]

Donald Trump Silhouette at The RNC

Donald Trump’s movement is a reaction against the establishment, of people who have had their jobs taken away from them, a mixture of causal confusion on immigration -> crime -> terrorism and a cry, no scream, against policy wonks and against political deadlock.

Trump promised implicitly to tear the elite out of their ivory towers. Like other outsiders, Trump’s doom and gloom criticism is easy. Making promises off the back of the failed politics of the past works well when combined with the cache that Trump enjoys. The solutions are catchy and facile. The dashing of policy nuance with billionaire sales tactics has worked. He will struggle massively to deliver on his policies. Destroy the deadlock? Maybe but only if he can truly establish his authoritarian hybrid in the heart of western democracy. A frighting thought as Trump just hasn’t grown much intellectually since his announcement a year ago.

Getting the Party Together

What the Republican National Convention needed to do for Trump:

  1. Project a presidential figure that can entrusted with nuclear codes; (mostly on maturity of policy)
  2. Establish a high level of unity within a divided party; (tough to quantify)
  3. While also appearing more likeable considering his nasty direct criticism of opponents is not enough to win; (like-ability could have been better if Trump hadn’t already burnt so many bridges)
  4. Crystalize around policies that attract undecided voters; (beyond the LGBTQ outreach, Trump was too pre-occupied with his drifting base)
  5. Gain acceptance from the elite or complete rejection the latter was achieved. (Rejection was the outcome, Scott Baio? The team of rival didn’t materialise. Probably works for his existing base but getting out the vote may be half-hearted)

What Actually Happened At The RNC:

From the plagiarism that humiliated Melania Trump, to the B-List celebrity spotlight, to the lack of serious political influencers on the stage (chanting “lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton not much due process there), to Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement of Trump and to Donald Trump’s teleprompter acceptance speech, the Republican Convention was not the launch Trump needed to win the presidency. It was a mixed bag of surprises which were moderately entertaining. Trump did not broaden his appeal, he reached out to the L…G..B…T…….Q community, yes. But he didn’t soften his image much. As an expert in mainstream media click-bait master mind, Trump focused on the negatives using debunked figures regarding immigrant crime for example. It could have been a revolutionary convention but he hasn’t evolved and remains intellectually lazy on policy….like his base.

The convention was Trump’s to win but even the ratings were bad! John McCain had more television viewers (obviously, these stats exclude online streaming & it’s apples and oranges) in 2008; 35 million versus 32 for Trump. 24 million people watched the Fox debate in August last year….leading pundits to speculate “has Trump finally peaked?” What should he have done differently?

Improvements In Time For RNC

How It Could Have Been Better

Over promising is Trump’s brand. He must have felt that to be presidential he had to temper his flare. Nonetheless, this convention awkwardly compromised by joining the tradition of nuanced affairs. Trump hasn’t up-ed his entertainment game when it was so critical, instead he’s communicated in a bland teleprompter style. His speakers sucked, he couldn’t attract anyone of consequence and putting his spoiled kids up for speeches is  dis-respectful at a minimum. In an effort to become more presidential, Trump has created a double negative; a) alienating his supporters while b) letting his speech writer dictate Republican policy. Here’s how he could have done his convention better:

1. Go After The Democratic Convention:

First of all, move the convention after the Democratic National Convention. Logistically, that would be a pain but the Republicans have always had the same image problem in their conventions regarding a lack of policy, a homogenous caucasian demographic and being creepy. Donkey and ElephantSince I can remember the Republicans convention has happened before the Democrats. And since I can remember, the Democrats have been able to expend a good 25% of their convention providing rebuttals to Republican talking points. That doesn’t add up.

2. Bring Back The Trump Levity, Why Not Interrupt Ted Cruz’s Speech Using The Jumbo Tron:

During Ted Cruz’s 23 minute vote your conscious speech: Donald Trump should have commandeered the Jumbo Tron behind Cruz to interrupt his speech after the 15 minute mark to say:

Ted Cruz versus Donald Trump RNC Speech“Hey, Ted….Ted. Look behind you. It’s me up here. Wrap it up Ted. And hey, aren’t you going to endorse me at some point?” It would have been the defining moment of the entire week. Trump knew what was in Cruz’s speech so capitalize not on a random wave but a humour take over. The problem is the Trump campaign doesn’t have the broad base of talent needed, you can’t just hire your children and wing nuts like Stephen Miller.

Policy development

3. Put More Effort Into the Policy Both At Ideation and Presenting Those Outputs At The Convention

Make your arguments visually. No politician has done this successfully yet. With Trump, there was a glimmer of hope that things would be different. Bring reality tv to policy discussions. That was the revolution that has yet to materialised on either side of the aisle. Instead Trump is baking up policies without consultation. Infographical, data-led support for what you are advocating is the future of political communication. Rhetoric is great but complimenting rhetoric with visual support is uniquely appropriate for conventions. We know that debates have no props, but in the age of powerpoint, platitudes could very well be secondary to ideas and vision. Use visuals to convey the message. I might be naive but if you want people’s votes, you need to appeal to their rational selves. Show them why they should vote for Trump.

ublic Policy Visualised

4. Double Down…but…Get Serious About Policy:

Donald Trump has had a full 12 months to become competent with the facts, to study up to modify his viral policy declarations. Trump went viral every time he unveiled policy on theses issues:

  • A Wall that Mexico Will Pay For;
  • Deporting Millions of Illegal Immigrants;
  • Standup to China & Mexican;
  • Turning Away Foreign Muslims;
  • With Draw Funding with Strategic Allies To Save Money;
  • Punish US Companies That Leave and Reward US Manufacturers;
  • Re-negotiate Free Trade, NAFTA to the TPP;
  • Make American Great Again…

But like a politician, he can’t admit mistakes. These policies are cray cray. He’s only modified the wall policy by dropping the Mexico claim and then foreign muslims has been modified to troubled countries. He applies business logic to governance which is intriguing. His appeal was that he was flexible, business-like, never reveal the details of your dealings, he recognised that politicians will set exit dates for Iraq or other policy declarations which tie that politicians hands. But for the most part, over the past 12 months, his policies didn’t evolve. He tested slogans and attack lines with his crowd fanbase to defend his viral positions AND made himself available to the media so consistently (with his style of neural linguistic programming + repetitive short stream of conscious) THAT he took the mainstream by storm. At a minimum, in 2016, conventions should be policy dialogues. Do social experiments with delegates at the Republican Convention, simulate trade deal negotiations, turn the convention into a giant think tank for policy development, poll on the issues….probably needs more development but maybe conventions aren’t for ideas….

To Rigid, the teleprompter5. Return to Stream of Consciousness But Memorize Your Core Messages:

The teleprompter destroyed Donald Trump’s stream of conscious appeal, replacing his creative flow with a sophomoric oratory that any standard politician would deliver. If you need the teleprompter, just bullet point the core ideas. With bluster and blunt language, Trump inspired his base and if he could marry that with independent voters he would have achieved what was needed. Too much blunt talk with out the humility to apologize is his downfall. There is a balance however.

The Campaign Is On!

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