TransferWise opens Belgian office ahead of Brexit

London-based fintech unicorn TransferWise is applying for a money transfer license in Brussels as it seeks to guard against disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Says Kristo Kaarmann, chief executive, TransferWise: "A Belgian license ensures we can continue to provide a great service globally to our customers, whatever happens with the Brexit deal."

The firm is keeping, and plans to grow, its London headquarters but is also setting up a small Brussels team as it applies for a European payments institution license from the National Bank of Belgium.

With the form of Britain's exit from the EU still up in the air, financial services firms are looking to ensure that they do not lose their passporting rights that let them operate across the continent.

Earlier this week, UK digital bank Starling said that it is setting up an Irish unit to protect its passporting rights in anticipation of launches in France and Germany.

Kaarmann's predecessor as TransferWise CEO, Taavet Hinrikus, indicated that the payments firm would open a European office as far back as April 2017, when he also suggested that startups should avoid setting up in London because of Brexit.

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