Founded in 2001 as Transfer Wise, UK-based financial technology company Wise Plc was founded by Estonian businessmen Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus with an aim to make international money transfer cheap, fair, and simple. The company’s its name to Wise Plc on 22 February 2021. Currently, its multi-currency account helps more than 10 million people and businesses in managing their money across the world at a cheaper, faster, and more transparent method. More than £5billion every month is transferred internationally, which saves £3million in bank fees every day. Its customers’ can hold balances in more than 55 currencies through Wise account, which allow them to easily spend abroad by using Wise Debit card. The company also partners with the leading banks and companies such as GoCardless, Monzo and Bolt for better international banking experience to its customers. Many leading businessmen including Richard Branson and Max Levchin have invested in the company. It operates through 17 offices with more than 2,400 employees.
The company has two divisions: Personal and Business. The company offers seven times cheaper multi-currency accounts to its individual customers, which is used to transfer money across more than 50 currencies at the real exchange rate and customers can spend in 200 countries through its debit card without any hidden charges. Customers can receive payments in 10 currencies and convert and hold 56 currencies without any charges.
The company offers accounts to its business customers to make transaction internationally and offers services such as invoice payments, people payments, banking alternative, receive money, debit cards and cash management. The company offers invoices payment services 19x cheaper than its competitors such as Paypal to its customers with real exchange rate in more than 70 countries. Businesses can make payments up to 1,000 people in one click and save time.
The company also offers various solutions through its platforms such as mass payout, API integrations and bank integrations to large businesses and banks seeking to automate international payouts or integrate Wise into their platform. The mass payout solution allows businesses to make payments fast and in low cost to its customers, employees, freelancers, investors, and suppliers across the world. Its API integration platform automates payments, connect business tools, and create multiple ways to manage finances. Its bank integration platform offers a new way for banks to offer cheaper, faster international payments.
The company became a public company though direct listing on the London Stock Exchange on 7 July 2021 as LON: WISE, which were the first direct listing in London, which means no new shares are issued and the existing stocks will be directly offered to public investors. It also confirms London’s presence in the fintech sector in Europe. These shares will be given to the stock exchange, which will put them up for an auction to avoid intermediaries. The company has also launched a customer shareholder programme called OwnWise, through which up to 100,000 customers can purchase shares and if they hold them for a year, they will receive bonus shares representing 5% of the value of their existing stake, for a maximum value of £100 and it will also offer non-cash prizes such as tickets to conferences and early access to new featured and products. The OwnWish is reported to be oversubscribed with over 125,000 expressions of interest in the UK and EU.
The company plans to have a dual class share structure to fulfill its objectives. But this also mean that the company will not be eligible to enter the FTSE index and concentration of voting powers in the hands of its owner, which means shareholders will not be able to hold management to account the same degree. Under such structure the retail investors will not have voting rights as much as they may have hold in other shares
On the first day of listing, the share prices moved up to 850 p, valuing the Wise at over £8.4 billion which was forecasted to be around £7 billion. On 7 July, the company also published an independent report from Edgar, Dunn & Co showing that £150 billion is spent in hidden fees on foreign currency transfer each year.
6th Floor, The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ, United Kingdom