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Transferwise boss warns fintech startups against Brexit Britain

12 April 2017  |  12933 views  |  6 EU flag

At a government-backed conference designed to trumpet the UK as a post-Brexit fintech powerhouse, the CEO of Transferwise went off-message, suggesting startups should avoid London and confirming that his own firm will move its European headquarters to the mainland.

The Treasury-sponsored International Fintech Conference jamboree brought in big hitters including Chancellor Phillip Hammond and Bank of England governor Mark Carney to talk up the booming financial technology sector.

London was recently ranked alongside Singapore as the top destination for fintech in a report by Deloitte yet Taavet Hinrikus, founder of money transfer unicorn Transferwise, says that post-Brexit the city is no longer the best place to start a firm.

"Uncertainty means that maybe if you're building the next fintech business you shouldn't build it in London today, until everything clears up again and we understand what’s going to happen with access to talent and so on," he told Reuters.

Hinrikus says that while Transferwise will keep its global headquarters in London, it will also set up a European HQ outside of Britain by March 2019 in order to avoid losing passporting rights.

Comments: (6)

Nick Ogden
Nick Ogden - ClearBank - London | 13 April, 2017, 06:47

I disagree with this view.

No one can see the future, and if you have a business idea or opportunity now, here in the UK, get on with it. The future will arrive and that is inevitable. If you wait and worry, you may miss your own future opportunity. If it works here you can move it, and if it doesn’t you have learned a lesson, then try again. 

 

 

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Michael King
Michael King - PeerPay Ltd - London | 13 April, 2017, 09:08

I agree with Nick. There was lots of energy and interest in multiple new ideas and different takes on the same issues

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 13 April, 2017, 09:33

This doesn't tally with what he just said on the Today programme.  He said London was far and away the best place for FinTech, but that the issues stated would need to be carefully considered.  He also said there were challenges from other places, but none had really had any traction yet.

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Robin Setty
Robin Setty - ACI Worldwide (EMEA) Limited - Watford | 13 April, 2017, 09:45

The change will happen if/when London cannot bring in the young, technically proficient IT staff that underpin companies such as Transferwise.  If 'hard Brexit' results in that kind of outcome, London will not remain the FinTech capital of Europe.  If it can be avoided then there should be no change.  We can only hope....

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 13 April, 2017, 10:00

Passporting rights are a genuine concern but both UK and EU would be foolish to disagree on this. Talents maybe a concern but talents are already a constraint anyhow. Availability of Banks as partner/clients and VC for funds is a much bigger constraint for any startups. The whole ecosystem (and the favourable tax system) will have resilience in London for some time.  

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 16 April, 2017, 12:09

We live in a global world - pre or post brexit, the UK is a good place for Fintech. Where you choose to move to, or register your passportable business is a day 2+ question. Make that choice after you have proven your model.  A bright spark in Frankfurt may now not move to London to set up his business here, but would he have done so before Brexit? I think not!   

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