Wise lists on the London Stock Exchange to solve the £150bn global payments challenge

By Oliver Smith on Wednesday 7 July 2021

Digital BankingSavings and Investment

CEO Kristo Käärmann says the mission is to “move money eventually for free”.

Wise lists on the London Stock Exchange to solve the £150bn global payments challenge
Image source: Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Kaarmann/Wise.

International transfer business Wise has just listed its shares on the London Stock Exchange, securing a valuation well over £7bn for the fintech founded in 2011.

Trading is expected to commence at 11:22am BST.

The long-awaited direct listing for the startup, formerly known as TransferWise, surpassed expectations, making the co-founders Kristo Kaarmann and Taavet Hinrikus paper fortunes worth over £1bn each.

Wise was created to solve the problem of the billions unknowingly spent in hidden fees every year on currency exchange. Those are the billions we care most about, even today,” said CEO Kaarmann as part of a speech to employees this morning.

Wise also published research revealing that £150bn is spent on hidden fees during foreign currency transfers each year, something the fintech has campaigned against for over a decade now.

“Our listing is incredibly exciting, and lots of hard work from many people has made it a reality. But, it’s important to remember that we’re still very early on in our journey,” said Kaarmann.

“Moving money into another currency is still a maze of hidden exchange rate mark-ups, high fees, delays, and small print for many people. We’re currently saving customers around £1bn a year in these hidden fees. The £149bn that’s still to go remains our focus.”

Wise announced its direct listing just a month ago, an unusual step for a startup looking to reach the public market, but one the company says is in-line with its “fairer, cheaper and more transparent” ethos.

The company is, however, listing with a controversial dual-class share structure, which will mean voting power is concentrated among the co-founders and employees.

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