The CEO of US bitcoin-payments app Circle says London remains an attractive place for startups and companies looking to expand overseas, despite the Brexit vote.
Jeremy Allaire told Business Insider: “Depending on what kind of company you’re building, London remains an incredible place for talent, an incredible place for international talent, an incredible place to build global activities.”
He added: “The UK government still remains the most embracing of and focused on financial technology innovation. We haven’t seen evidence of other markets exhibiting the same thing yet. They have been making a lot of noise.”
Marieke Flament, Circle’s Europe MD, added: “There have been changes [with UK government] but the appetite for everything being digital remains very strong. Actually, we are seeing them proactively reaching out to fintech businesses. Some of the relationship needs to be rebuilt but the dialogue is ongoing.”
Circle has its European headquarters in Dublin but also has offices in London. The app lets people send and receive money anywhere in the world for free by harnessing bitcoin’s blockchain. US dollars, UK pounds, or euros are converted into bitcoin, transferred to the recipient’s Circle app over the internet, then converted back into the local currency.
It is currently processing $1 billion-worth of transactions over its platform a year and has raised over $130 million since setting up in 2013. Circle, which is backed by Goldman Sachs, began by offering mobile digital wallets for bitcoin but launched a mainstream consumer payments product in the US last year and a UK version of the app earlier this year.
Sean Neville, cofounder of Circle, told BI: “Growth is going very, very well. We’re on track to exceed number of transactions this year on an annual business.
“It’s been fantastic to see the UK embrace this consumer behaviour and this way of using money with friends and family in the same way they use photos or messages or other content.”
Circle’s executives were speaking to BI ahead of the launch of the app in Spain and Ireland. Allaire says the Spain and Ireland launches would be the first of many in Europe.
He told BI: “If you need to make payments across the US and UK, Ireland, or Spain you essentially get no-fee, instant sending and receiving of those currencies with the best rates in the world. Eventually, we’ll roll out across the whole of the EU. You’ll see waves upon waves of different launches happening in the coming weeks and months.”
Circle is passporting an E-Money licence from Britain’s regulator to expand across the EU. Allaire says he is not yet worried about the UK losing passporting rights in the process of Brexit negotiations.
He told BI: “We’ll see what arrangements the UK government makes with different member states and the entire EU. But because we are an EU company [given its Dublin HQ], we have the benefit of having a lot of options as we grow and as the Brexit becomes more clear.”
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