Tuesday 21 September 2021 5:31 pm

Wise launches cross-currency investment feature for UK customers

British fintech giant Wise has entered the retail investing space with its new feature “Assets”, which allows UK account holders to invest in stocks across 54 currencies.

As of today, individuals and businesses holding Wise accounts will be able to hold their money as stocks and use Assets to invest in BlackRock’s iShares World Equity Index Fund – a broad $40trn portfolio including some of the world’s largest listed companies, such as Apple, Amazon and Google.

In contrast to traditional investing accounts, users will be able to instantly access 97 per cent of their invested money to either spend through their Wise card or send funds overseas.

The remaining 3 per cent of users’ Asset balance will be held back as a buffer against market volatility, Wise said.

“People all over the world are holding billions in their Wise and Wise Business accounts for the long-term. But holding money in various currencies can be hard to manage efficiently,” said CEO and co-founder Kristo Käärmann.

“Assets is seeking to solve that problem, by providing an opportunity for customers to earn a return on their money with us, in a host of different currencies, all in one place,” he added.

The move comes two months after Wise’s valuation hit almost £9bn after listing on the London Stock Exchange in the UK’s biggest ever tech float, and is the first major product launch since IPO.

Assets will charge a monthly 0.55 per cent service fee to Wise and a 0.15 per cent fund fee to BlackRock, calculated on the value of a user’s assets.

“It’s not a standard current account, or a savings account, or a stock picking investment platform. It’s something new we’ve built to give our customers a balance between the convenience, reliability, and potential returns of all three,” Käärmann said.

Wise, which now holds £4.3bn in balances from users globally, will capitalise on the current retail trading boom with the new offering, entering into competition with fellow London fintech Revolut, which began offering commission-free stock trading in 2019.

“Offerings, such as Assets from Wise, are bringing financial services into the digital age and in line with consumers’ expectations,” said Joe Parkin, head of banks and digitals at Blackrock UK.

“Providing people with investments alongside other financial products is critical to helping them achieve their long term goals,” he added.

Meanwhile, Revolut has looked stateside today and taken on the dominant online brokerage Robinhood with plans to launching commission-free stock trading for its US customers in the next few months.

“We are building a single app where people can manage all aspects of their finances, from banking and foreign exchange, to cryptocurrency and stock trading”, said Nik Storonsky, Founder & CEO of Revolut.

“We’re eager to break down common barriers to entry around stock trading such as account minimums and complex interfaces,” he added.

PayPal is also reportedly exploring ways to allow its US clients to trade individual stocks on its platform.