peerTransfer Name Change Reflects its Global Ambitions as Processed Payments Near $2B

Bostinno – By Dylan Martin

In just four years, Boston’s peerTransfer has become a behemoth in the payments world with its focus on processing tuition payments for international students. In the 2014-2015 academic year alone it processed more than $1 billion. And it’s on track to surpass $2 billion this year.

But the MIT-born startup has even greater ambitions: It announced Wednesday it’s changing its name to Flywire to reflect this push as expansion efforts ramp up in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Both names will appear on the startup’s website for now, but the peerTransfer name will eventually be phased out (so you’ll know longer have to wonder if it works in peer-to-peer payments — it doesn’t).

“The Flywire name is rooted in our desire and vision to serve as the trusted provider for high-ticket payments that cross international borders,” Rob Rosenblatt, Flywire’s chief customer officer, said in a statement. “In today’s world consumers are global, with opportunities to study, live, travel and explore around the world.”

To facilitate Flywire’s growth in the U.S. and abroad, the startup recently relocated its teams in Boston and Valencia, Spain, to larger offices, enabling it to hire more employees in engineering, sales, marketing and operations. A little less than a year ago, the startup had about 47 employees, but it now has 81, and that number is expected to reach 90 by the end of the year. Thirty employees work in Boston while 42 work in Valencia and another nine work at the startup’s recently opened Shanghai office.

The expansion comes after the startup raised $22 million from investors earlier this year, bringing total funding to $43.2 million. “For us, it’s about market expansion and growth and support,” Flywire CEO Mike Massaro told BostInno.

The startup currently serves more than 750 educational institutions — adding about 60 schools a quarter — and a majority of them are currently in the U.S. The rest are spread across Europe and Asia, where the startup is starting to focus more of its attention.

“That’s an area where we’re investing to geographically diversify the risk,” Massaro said. “We know there’s a big world out there and want to get as many schools out there as possible.”

To date, the startup has provided a service that lets international students send tuition payments to schools across borders using their home country’s currency. Massaro said it’s been able to attract hundreds of thousands of students because it can negotiate favorable exchange rates with global banks.

“We started out four years ago serving colleges and universities as the first truly global payment processor for education clients,” Rosenblatt said. “Since then, we’ve built a platform that is completely modular, supporting any currency, any payment vehicle, including alternative payments such as Alipay, and any type of institution serving international consumers.”

But Flywire is no longer just eyeing the education market. Massoro told me that its system for processing payments has applications that extend well beyond paying for tuition. He said the startup has heard from hospitals and travel-related companies, among others, that may want to start accepting international payments. With hospitals, for example, Massoro said someone could use Flywire to pay for a medical procedure that is happening in another country.

“It really comes down to a lot of the traditional ecommerce purchasing cross-border has been limited to credit cards,” he said. “When it comes to large dollar amounts, there’s no other credit card that accepts bank-to-bank, and that’s in essence what we did.”

Flywire already has one non-education client lined up, but Massaro said it’s not ready to make an announcement.

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