TransferWise, an international payments startup valued at over $1 billion, is relocating its European headquarters from the U.K. by March 2019.
According to Business Insider, this could be a sign of how Brexit is already negatively affecting the U.K.’s FinTech industry, with TransferWise’s decision likely based on a number of factors. One is the potential loss of passporting, the ability to be licensed in one EEA state and operate in any other without further authorization. Relocating to another EEA country will allow TransferWise to retain these rights.
Another issue is that it will probably be harder for U.K. firms to hire foreign talent since many might not be able to freely move between the U.K. and the rest of the EU.
Although it is unlikely FinTechs will leave the U.K. altogether because of the hassles of relocating, there might be a growing number that will move headquarters or open new offices in other European countries so they can maintain advantages like passporting and a larger talent pool. And that could damage the U.K. FinTech industry, as jobs and revenue also leave the country.
TransferWise’s CEO, Taavet Hinrikus, said that while an exact location for the new office hasn’t been decided, the company is considering the “usual suspects,” likely Germany, France and Ireland. All of these countries have been actively trying to get U.K. FinTechs to their shores.