Wednesday 20 February 2019 1:33 pm

The Dutch ‘Brexit Snatch’: Why Azimo is not quitting the UK

Michael Kent is founder and chief executive of Azimo.

Have you heard the news? Azimo is one of 250 companies moving to the Netherlands in an alleged ‘Brexit Snatch’ by the Dutch government.

Read more: London fintech startups poised to expand in Europe

They say never let the truth get in the way of a good story but as the chief executive of Azimo, the announcement, made by the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) last week and picked up by most of the UK’s national press, came as a bit of a surprise to me. I would like to set the record straight.

Azimo opened an office in Amsterdam last year to help the company expand its operations across Europe.

As an additional home for a rapidly growing technology company, The Netherlands ticks many boxes: it has an impressive existing ecosystem (witness Adyen and, diverse and high-quality talent from all over the world, and a local population very receptive to innovation.

Yes, worries about Brexit gave us the impetus to set up shop in Amsterdam, but we are not “leaving the UK”. London is where our global headquarters are – and we don’t intend to move them anytime soon.

The UK’s capital remains the global fintech hub of the world, with a blend of investment and talent that has taken years to build, and which won’t be replicated elsewhere overnight. And that investment is at a record high, as reported by the UK fintech trade body Innovate Finance earlier this month.

Crucially, the UK has a regulator that understands digital technology and which has helped fintechs grow and scale. In the discussions that we held with financial regulators around Europe to choose the location of our new office, it became clear that this couldn’t be taken for granted.

More than one regulator asked us – more than once – ‘where our branches were’ (we’re a digital business with no branches).

Read more: UK fintech investment hits all-time high of $3.3bn

Azimo is a British success story on the global fintech stage. In just six years, we have become Europe’s leading digital money transfer company, enabling payments in more than 80 currencies to more than 200 countries and territories.

We’ve attracted tens of millions of pounds in investment from the USA, Asia, and continental Europe.

This kind of growth is still most likely to happen in the UK. We have here the right mix of talent, infrastructure and forward thinking legislation. As the politicians continue to argue, it’s something worth protecting – and shouting about.

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