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Wise launches investing feature


The Wise logo displayed on a smartphone screen.

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LONDON — British financial technology firm Wise debuted an investments feature Tuesday that lets users invest in stocks through multiple currencies and spend their holdings.

BlackRock’s iShares World Equity Index Fund allows users to make investments in the new Assets feature. It tracks 1,557 of the largest publicly traded companies around. The fund’s holdings include Apple, Amazon and Alphabet.

Wise debit cards will allow users to immediately spend up to 97% or transfer funds abroad. Customers will be able to keep their money in stock, and still use the funds immediately.

“Holding money in various currencies can be hard to manage efficiently,” said Kristo Käärmann, Wise’s CEO and co-founder.

A portfolio is a solution to this problem. It offers customers the chance to get a return on their investments in different currencies.

Wise states that it holds back 3% from users’ invested cash to protect customers’ funds against market volatility.

While Assets will initially be launched in the U.K. for both personal and commercial customers, the company plans to expand its European offering at a later time.

Wise was formerly known as TransferWise. It started out as an exchange platform that offered cheaper currencies. Since then, it has expanded its product range to include multicurrency accounts that can be linked to a debit-card.

Now, Wise is rolling out investment accounts after having secured authorization from U.K. regulators last year.

The company says its customers now hold a total of £4.3 billion ($5.9 billion) in their balances globally.

Retail investor boom

Wise’s investing feature is different to that of other fintech platforms like Robinhood and Revolut, which let users trade a variety of different stocks, often without paying commission fees.

Wise users can access hundreds of stocks through Assets. Users also have the option to use assets to buy goods and send money overseas in various currencies.

Wise is charged an annualized fee of 0.5% for service and a fund fee equal to 0.55%. The monthly arrears fee covers the asset value.

Assets launched after retail investors began to invest in the stock exchange.

Earlier this year, amateur traders inspired by a Reddit forum flocked to GameStop, the video game retailer, helping to fuel wild swings in its stock price.

It’s the first major product update since Wise went public in London earlier this year. Instead of raising capital in an initial public offer, employees and investors directly sold shares to the public.

This was seen as a major victory for the U.K. where they are looking to improve London’s listing system to increase its appeal to tech companies after Brexit.