Wise CEO and co-founder Kristo Kaarmann.


LONDON — Wise, one of Britain’s biggest fintech companies, is about to go public. And it will be a major test for post-Brexit London.

The money transfer firm has opted to list its shares directly on the London Stock Exchange, using a rare listing method pioneered by Spotify in the U.S. three years ago.

The first trades in Wise are expected to commence shortly after 11:22 a.m. London time, according to the company’s prospectus.

What is Wise?

What is a direct listing?

Why does it matter?

Wise’s listing is a big win for London, which is vying to attract more tech success stories following Britain’s departure from the European Union.

U.K. regulators are currently consulting on proposals to relax London’s listings regime and make it more attractive for tech firms to list in the capital.

It’s also a validation for the country’s burgeoning fintech sector, which has produced multibillion-dollar unicorns like Revolut and Checkout.com and attracted $4.1 billion in venture capital investment last year.

However, Wise’s float will also be a significant test for the city. Wise says its market debut will be the first direct listing of a tech company in London.

“It is risky,” Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, told CNBC. “This really hasn’t been done that often, especially with a fintech business.”

But, he added: “They’re a profitable business. They don’t have the baggage that Deliveroo brought to the table.”

Food delivery firm Deliveroo’s IPO was shunned by large institutional investors due to concerns over its gig economy model and a dual-class share structure which gave founder Will Shu over 50% of the voting rights. Deliveroo plunged as much as 30% in its first day of trading.

Despite worries over governance with such ownership structures, Wise said its dual-class shares are structured in such a way that no existing shareholder will hold more than half of the voting rights just by holding class B shares.

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