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  • Writer's pictureJocelyn Chen

The IPO of Wise & Remitly:

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

Debuts of two FinTech firms accelerated by the global pandemic

Wise and Remitly have been operating for around a decade and finally went public with the aid of the pandemic push in the second half of the year. These two deals are discussed in this month’s editor column.

On 7 July 2021 , The UK-based money transfer startup, Wise, ended its first day of trading with a market valuation of £8.75 billion, exceeding its market expectations of £4.4 billion to £5.2 billion. Despite the significant failure of Deliveroo’s high-profile initial public offering followed by a massive drop a few months prior, Wise presented an opposite picture to the trading market on London’s tech scene.

Wise was founded in 2010 with the aim of bringing fairness and transparency to the world of international money transfers. It withholds a bank account in every one of its 60 operating countries, and instead of transferring currency from one country to the another, it matches customers willing to exchange the same amount of money in opposite directions. They then help each other top up their domestic bank accounts with the type of currency they have, so money does not cross borders but is rather transferred domestically. Contrary to traditional banks which go to the Foreign Exchange market when running out of different currencies, Wise has created a unique Peer-2-Peer Currency exchange model.

Last week’s IPO of Remitly reached a $7bn valuation, skyrocketing its former valuation of $1.5bn just 14 months ago. With its own money transfering platform, Remitly, which has tailored itself towards the $1.5 trillion cross-border remittance market, leverages technology to allow money remittance among immigrants more efficient and affordable. The World Bank originally predicted the sharpest decline of remittances that may be caused by the global pandemic this year as transport routes seized up and a large pool of migrants lost their jobs, yet there was only a 1.6 percent fall in remittance. Possible reasons include lockdowns pushing cash into regulated platforms and migrants sacrificing their own welfare just to remit money home.


The fact that these two companies all chose to go public in the post-Covid recovery has demonstrated digitalisation’s strong financial industry presence,That is not enough however. Although they have a one-of-a-kind operating model that has brought them to where they have achieved so far, financial service providers are better off offering a range of solutions instead of specifying only one service. Stringent competition from legacy players and other fintech startup counterparts are all emphasizing the importance of being clients’ go-to financial service provider.

Between these two companies, Wise is doing a better job for diversification. In fact, the name Wise is a new change from the original company name TransferWise, with the hope that it resembles the widening product offering options that could attract more profitable business clients.

A shift towards digital comes with a round of card shuffling; Fintech startups and traditional brick and mortar money agents all have a chance to reshape the industry and position themselves on the financial service provider ladder.


The UCL Finance and Technology Review (UCL FTR) is the official publication of the UCL FinTech Society. We aim to publish opinions from the student body and industry experts with accuracy and journalistic integrity. While every care is taken to ensure that the information posted on this publication is correct, UCL FTR can accept no liability for any consequential loss or damage arising as a result of using the information printed. Opinions expressed in individual articles do not necessarily represent the views of the editorial team, society, Students’ Union UCL or University College London. This applies to all content posted on the UCL FTR website and related social media pages.

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