20210224 What’s in a name?

Transferwise becomes Wise. Is it a wise choice?

Transferwise is a good name. Transfer is what it does, wise is how it wants us to feel for choosing it.

But, apparently, it doesn’t fit with the direction the company plans to take.

So it’s decided to call itself Wise.

That doesn’t say what it does and it no longer appears to relate to the customer so the feel-good factor is lost. But I’m sure a focus group somewhere said it provided something I don’t understand.

One thing is certain: the people that came up with the idea, the people in the focus groups and the people who signed off on it didn’t know that there has been a WISE before and that ended in tears.

In our course Essentials: Offshore banking, etc. there’s the story of fraudster who essentially captured the regulator of a Caribbean Island. As part of the grand scheme he and his group created was a fake FDIC called IDIC. And a fake stock market called the World Investors’ Stock Exchange or, keep up, WISE.

The whole scheme imploded. More than 20 years later the Prime Minister is still doing interesting deals involving passports. The fraudster died in the USA after being extradited from an African country following a siege at his compound and a gun battle. He had even tried to take control of a central bank in a nearby country.

Back to WISE. It was a fraudulent scheme, an additional layer to suck more money out of the victims of the banking scheme. Some of the companies that ″listed″ on WISE were themselves under the control of known criminals. The name was, as a result, badly tainted.

It’s like putting BCCI (bcci.com is now a cafe in India) on the letterhead.

Or calling anything ″MAX″. Both Boeing and Pepsi can attest that that’s a bad idea.

One has to question the wisdom of putting WISE above the door of any financial services business.

But the company formerly known as Transferwise has.

I wouldn’t.