Wise founders Taavet Hinrikus, left, and Kristo Käärmann.


LONDON — The founders of money transfer service Wise are now billionaires — on paper, at least.

The British fintech company formerly known as TransferWise went public on the London Stock Exchange Wednesday, in a direct listing valuing the company at $11 billion.

Wise was founded in 2010 by Estonian friends Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus. Frustrated with opaque bank charges on international money transfers, they figured out a new way to make cross-border transactions at the real exchange rate.

The pair would informally transfer money between one another, by looking at the mid-market rate of a certain day each month. They say this allowed them to achieve a fair exchange rate without paying additional bank charges.

Billionaire status

Just over a decade after Wise was formed, the fintech firm’s founders have risen to billionaire status.

At an $11 billion market cap, Käärmann’s stake in the business is worth approximately $2.1 billion, while Hinrikus’ is worth $1.2 billion, according to CNBC calculations based on a breakdown of ownership provided in Wise’s prospectus.


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