TransferWise chairman sees 'zero' risk from Brexit

James Cook
TransferWise chairman Taavet Hinrikus (left) said that he sees no risk to the company from Brexit - Steve Stills

Britain's departure from the European Union presents "zero" risk to TransferWise, the financial technology startup, according to its chairman and co-founder.

“Why should it be a risk?” asked Taavet Hinrikus. “We are a UK company, we will stay a UK company."

TransferWise allows customers to cheaply transfer money between currencies. The company helps customers transfer over £1.5bn overseas every month.

Mr Hinrikus said that he plans to open a new office in continental Europe in January to ensure that it retains its financial passporting ability after Brexit.

There has been uncertainty amongst financial technology companies regarding their ability to “passport” their services across Europe after Brexit.

Tom Blomfield, the chief executive of banking start-up Monzo, said in November that the situation was a “big mess” and that the company’s ability to continue passporting was “uncertain.” Monzo has also considered opening an office in Europe.

Mr Hinrikus, however, was more confident about his solution: “We’ll fix that,” he said. The company has no plans to move its headquarters away from London, and instead plans to open a smaller, satellite office in Europe.

Another London-headquartered banking start-up, Revolut, announced last week that it had been granted a full banking licence in Lithuania which will enable it to passport its service across Europe in 2019.

TransferWise’s chairman said that one area which did concern him about Brexit, however, was the ability to attract staff to work at the business’ UK office. He said it was a risk for the UK if businesses are unable to hire staff in the country, but said that TransferWise will instead seek to hire in other offices if it encounters problems.

“We will hire these people anyway,” he said. "Whether we hire them in London or elsewhere, that's a different question.”