Shares in currency exchange business Wise rose following the company’s float in London, valuing the British technology giant at close to £8bn.

The business, which allows people to exchange currency using a peer-to-peer model, was the first direct listing of a technology company in London.

Wise’s float makes the company’s two founders billionaires. Chief executive Kristo Käärmann’s net worth will stand at $2.1bn (£1.5bn) while co-founder and former chief executive Taavet Hinrikus’s stake is now worth $1.2bn.

The company’s direct listing was also the largest technology float on the London Stock Exchange, helping it to recover from Deliveroo’s disastrous market debut. Cybersecurity business Darktrace went public in London in April with a £1.7bn valuation.

Shares in Wise began trading at £8 on Wednesday morning and rose to £8.25p in the afternoon.

Mr Käärmann and Mr Hinrikus started the business in 2010 when they lived in London and Estonia respectively, hitting upon the idea of paying each other’s expenses and so avoiding currency transfer costs.

Wise’s founders were vocal opponents of Brexit, with Mr Hinrikus warning that the business could be forced to move its headquarters out of London. The company applied for a Brussels banking licence in 2019 to minimise Brexit disruption.

However the company eventually chose to remain in the UK and to float in London rather than pursuing a New York listing.

The business is a rare profitable financial technology business, announcing last year that it had doubled its annual profits to £21.3m. Challenger banking companies including Monzo and Revolut continue to generate substantial losses.

“Almost every action that you do [on Wise] is sustainable and maybe even slightly profitable,” Mr Käärmann told The Telegraph last year.

Wise’s float will result in a payday for venture capital backers including Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.

Analysts have pointed to Wise’s peer-to-peer model, where currency requirements are paired with other customers and businesses, as a key advantage over incumbents.

“Wise has a distinct advantage over peers such as Western Union and Moneygram because origination is 100pc digital and they don’t have to maintain a network of physical locations to disburse cash,” said Dan Thomas, a senior analyst at Third Bridge.

"Wise will also be counting on growing its footprint in the much larger business-to-business cross-border payments space,” he added.