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Wise’s Estonian origins

In the run up to publishing this week’s newsletter, news broke that Wise would finally be going public, putting an end to months of speculation. According to a post by CEO Kristo Käärmann, Wise will be going public on the London Stock Exchange via a direct listing, as opposed to the more popular IPO or SPAC approaches. We’ll be covering the financial details next week (according to Reuters, the listing will be finalised by 5 July), but in the meantime we thought it would be interesting to take a look at where the company has come from – specifically the Estonian fintech space.

Wise and other Estonian payments fintechs

Estonia is an interesting country for startups in general, punching far above its weight in terms of the number of tech unicorns it produces, and cross-border payments is no different. Wise is certainly the current jewel in the crown, but there are a host of other companies gaining interest. 

Monese, the other London-headquartered company we’ve highlighted, is also becoming a key figure in the space, and like Wise is claimed by Invest in Estonia as one of the country’s fintech success stories. Other rising stars include Quppy, which is attracting attention in particular for its cryptocurrency payment offerings. 

Others in cross-border payments are also expanding to the country. This week, for example, we also saw that Checkout.com will be making Estonia its second largest engineering hub with the acquisition of financial software developer Icefire.

Why is Estonia such a hub for fintech? Part of the reason is a host of digital-first public policies, including its e-residency, which are designed to encourage investment in the country. However, arguably a bigger reason is what is known as the “Skype Mafia” – the vast number of companies founded by early Skype employees after the Estonian company was sold to Microsoft. Wise is one of this group, which has created a positive investment environment that has helped such companies emerge and grow. And now Wise has reached such heights, we’re starting to see companies founded by Wise alumni emerge too. 

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