One of the UK’s leading fintechs, Wise, formerly TransferWise, has gone public on the London Stock Exchange today. The first trades commenced shortly after 11:22 am BST under the ticker ‘WISE’. Valued at £7.95 billion on its market debut, this has been the largest-ever tech listing in London by market capitalisation.
The company currently caters to over 10 million individual and business customers, processing over £5 billion in cross-border transactions every month.
Ills of foreign currency transfers
To coincide with its direct listing today, the company has also released independent research which revealed £150 billion is unknowingly spent in hidden fees on foreign currency transfers each year.
The research was unveiled by company founders Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus from the company’s Tallinn office, as part of a private listing ceremony streamed to the company’s 2,400 Wisers (employees), located in 17 offices around the world.
Direct listing, the new way forward
The company’s decision to pursue a direct listing follows the approach taken by Spotify, Slack and Coinbase. The direct listing is the first of a technology company on the London Stock Exchange.
In contrast to a traditional Initial Public Offering, a direct listing is a fairer, cheaper and more transparent way for the company to broaden its ownership, in support of its mission to move money around the world faster, cheaper, more conveniently and transparently.
Moving money becomes hassle-free
As part of a speech to its employees or Wisers, Kristo Käärmann, CEO and co-founder of Wise, said: “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.”
“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. 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 £1 billion a year in these hidden fees. The £149 billion that’s still to go remains our focus,” Käärmann added.