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Wise launches investing feature

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The Wise logo displayed on a smartphone screen.

Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

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

The new feature, called Assets, allows customers to invest in BlackRock’s iShares World Equity Index Fund, which tracks a basket of 1,557 of the world’s biggest public companies. The fund’s holdings include Apple, Amazon and Alphabet.

Users will also be able to instantly spend up to 97% of the invested money in their accounts with a Wise debit card, or send funds overseas. The idea is that customers can hold their funds in stocks, but also still spend and send the money in real time.

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

“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.”

Wise says it is holding back 3% of users’ invested cash as a “buffer” in case of any large market fluctuations, to prevent customers’ balances from dipping into negative territory.

The company is initially launching Assets for personal and business customers in the U.K. but plans to roll out the product in Europe at a later date.

Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise began life as a platform offering cheaper currency exchange. It has since expanded its range of products to include multi-currency accounts 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.

With Assets, Wise users will get exposure to hundreds of stocks and can use their holdings to pay for goods or send money abroad in a number of different currencies.

Wise charges an annualized 0.55% service fee and a 0.15% fund fee on the value of a user’s assets, which is taken monthly in arrears.

The launch of Assets comes after a surge in retail investors participating in the stock market, as consumers searched for alternative ways to earn a return on their savings.

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. Rather than raising money in an initial public offering, the firm’s employees and investors sold their shares directly to the public.

The debut was viewed as a big win for the U.K., where the government is looking to reform London’s listing regime to make it more attractive for tech companies following Brexit.

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A neuroscientist shares the 4 brain-changing benefits of exercise—and how much she does every week

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When we think about the benefits of exercise, we usually think of better sleep, more energy, maintaining a healthy weight, stronger muscles or a healthier heart.

These are all true. But we rarely consider the immediate effects that physical activity can have on the most important organ in our bodies: the brain.

Through my years of research as a neuroscientist, I’ve found that exercising is one of the most transformative things you can do to improve cognitive abilities, such as learning, thinking, memory, focus and reasoning — all of which can help you become smarter and live longer.

How exercise boosts your brain health

1. It decreases feelings of anxiety

Studies have shown that every time your move your body, a number of beneficial neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin and acetylcholine, gets released into your brain.

These substances can decrease feelings of anxiety and depression. (Think of them as a neurochemical “bubble bath” for your brain.)

It only takes between 10 and 30 minutes of daily physical activity to instantly life your mood. No gym membership? Take a short walk, or use the stairs instead of the elevator.

When I’m crunched for time, I’ll simply pace a few laps around my dining room table.

2. It improves your focus and concentration

In one of my lab experiments, I found that a single workout can help improve your ability to shift and focus attention.

This is an immediate benefit that can last for at least two hours after 30 minutes of exercise. I recommend activities that increase your heart rate, such as brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis or jumping rope.

Studies have also shown that one workout session can improve your reaction times — which means, for example, that you’re going to be much faster at catching that cup of coffee before it falls off the table.

3. It promotes the growth of new brain cells

One of the most significant benefits of exercise, scientists have found, is that it promotes neurogenesis, or the birth of new brain cells. This is essential to improving cognitive function.

Researchers have shown in rats and mice that running ramps up the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus, a small seahorse-shaped part of the brain devoted to memory formation and storage.

Exercise also can improve the health and function of the synapses between neurons in this region, allowing brain cells to better communicate.

4. It protects your brain from aging and neurodegenerative diseases

Imagine your brain as a muscle: the more workout you put into it, the stronger and bigger it gets.

Longitudinal studies in humans suggest that regular exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, both of which are susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

So while exercising won’t completely prevent or cure normal cognitive decline in aging, doing it consistently can help reduce or delay the onset of it. In many ways, exercise is like a supercharged 401(k) for your brain — and it’s even better, because it’s free.

You don’t have to become a triathlete



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Elon Musk reposted 28-year-old’s meme, it sold as an NFT for $20,000

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It’s no secret that billionaire Elon Musk loves memes. He frequently reposts them on Twitter, where he has 61 million followers.

Though some dislike his reposting, as he often neglects to give the original meme creators credit, others have profited from Musk’s practice, including self-proclaimed “hobby artist” Eva Beylin.

Beylin was thrilled when Musk reposted her meme on Wednesday. “The ultimate prize of memeology is for the ultimate meme lord to use your meme,” Beylin, 28, tells CNBC Make It.

Even though Musk didn’t give her any attribution, “I am over the moon,” she says, adding that she’s a big fan of Musk.

Beylin’s meme, which she named “Love in The Time of Web3,” depicts a cartoon couple admiring the prices of bitcoin and ether, which are $69,000 and $4,200, respectively, in the meme. While the price of bitcoin hasn’t hit $69,000, the numbers are an obvious nod to meme culture.

As the director of The Graph Foundation, which supports blockchain data protocol The Graph, Beylin is passionate about Web3, which is the decentralized iteration of the internet that powers blockchain-based applications like NFTs.

“Love in The Time of Web3” got a lot of attention following Musk’s tweet. That night, Beylin listed it as an NFT, or nonfungible token, on marketplace Zora, and two days later, it sold for five wrapped ether, which is about $19,800 at current pricing, to an anonymous buyer.

“It is surreal,” Beylin says.

Though it was Beylin’s idea to create the meme, she did not design the image of the cartoon couple or edit the prices of bitcoin and ether.

Beylin was inspired to create the meme after seeing a post by another Twitter user who edited the cryptocurrency prices and tweeted it as a joke.

To compensate the user, who is known as @shegenerates, Beylin gave her 20% of the proceeds from the NFT sale. Shegenerates was fine with Beylin using her edit, she tells CNBC Make It.

“Personally, I have [Musk] blocked on Twitter, so I only saw it after Eva [Beylin] posted about him sharing it. I wish I got all those likes myself because I can only imagine how much serotonin my brain would make with all that attention, but memes are permissionless, so it’s just cool to see things I shared around,” Shegenerates says.

Beylin doesn’t know the creator of the image depicting the cartoon couple. And because of the legal gray area that NFTs exist in, it’s not clear whether the use of this image infringes on any potential copyright laws.

With her cut of the sale, Beylin plans to reinvest in other artists by buying their NFTs.

“As a hobby artist, I’d never be able to reinvest in art or have my art paid for [without NFTs]. So, my thing has always been reinvesting back into NFTs,” she says.

The buyer of “Love in The Time of Web3” has already relisted the meme for 69.42 wrapped ether, or about $275,000. Though it’s less than the buyer’s asking price, a bidder already offered 6.94 wrapped ether, or about $27,500, for the meme.

If it resells, Beylin will earn a 15% royalty, she says.

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Don’t miss: This 12-year-old coder helped develop an NFT collection that made over $5 million in 3 weeks



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Xpeng launches flying car that can also operate on roads

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HT Aero, an affiliate of Chinese electric carmaker Xpeng Inc., launched a new vehicle capable of flying in the air and driving on roads. The launch of HT Aero’s 6th–generation model happened at the Xpeng Tech Day on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

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GUANGZHOU, China — HT Aero, an affiliate of Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Inc., launched a new flying car on Sunday that it says can also drive on roads.

The company says it plans for a rollout in 2024.

HT Aero’s vehicle will have a lightweight design and a rotor that folds away, the company said. That will allow the car to drive on roads and then fly once the rotors are expanded.

The vehicle will have a number of safety features including parachutes, the company said.

HT Aero is backed by Xpeng and its founder He Xiaopeng. The company raised $500 million last week from a number of outside investors including high-profile venture capital firms.

Flying cars — also called electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles — have garnered a lot of interest from automakers and start-ups.

However, there are a number of challenges for these vehicles to become wide-scale including regulation and safety issues.

HT Aero’s new land and air vehicle was launched at Xpeng’s Tech Day where the company also took the wraps of the latest version of its advanced driver assistance system called XPILOT 4.0.

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