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On the money

The Wise men are stars to follow

Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

“London’s done it,” says Chris Hughes in Bloomberg. Finally “a jumbo technology listing has gone well”. Wise, the cross-border payments firm formerly known as TransferWise, surged to a valuation of more than £8bn on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday, securing billionaire status for its two founders. This unusual “direct listing” means Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Kaarmann – now Estonia’s richest sons – are sitting on shares worth £2.5bn, according to Bloomberg, and they didn’t have to sell a bunch of stock to new investors in advance. “What’s not to like?”

It’s not clear who to congratulate, as the investment bankers who normally run IPOs barely had to lift a finger. But after the initial implosion of shares in takeaway firm Deliveroo, and given the UK government’s ambition to attract fast-growing tech firms to London, “a success like this was needed”. It’s worth noting that in financial terms, Wise remains a minnow. Pre-tax profits have doubled in the past year, but only to £41m. And it’s more a payments firm that uses tech than a true tech firm (like a chip designer, say). Still, with a “banner listing” and a “good crop harvested”, London – and the two Wise guys – can savour some success.

Good news for the planet? 

James Murdoch, son of media baron and climate sceptic Rupert, is handing $250m to a climate fund set up by BlackRock and aimed at emerging markets, says the FT. The money will be used to build green infrastructure, including renewable power generation (solar, wind and so on) and ultra-low-emission electrical grids. They aren’t just doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. Energy demand in developing countries is expected to double by 2050. By supplying that demand with new energy tech, Murdoch and his co-investors are hoping for “double-digit returns”.

Crypto bros know nada 

More than a third of people who invest in cryptocurrencies know next to nothing about them, according to behavioural finance specialists Oxford Risk. Its survey of 1,038 Britons found that 36% of investors rated their understanding of the digital assets as “poor” or “non-existent” when they first bought them – and 21% had no idea how the market worked even after buying in.

The Financial Conduct Authority estimates that the number of Britons who own cryptocurrencies has risen from 1.9 million last year to about 2.3 million today. “The concern,” says Greg Davies of Oxford Risk, is that “too many people are being influenced to invest by rising prices and other people encouraging them to have a go”.