Peter Smith, co-founder and CEO of crypto financial services firm Blockchain.com, claimed yesterday that London’s reign as the world’s fintech capital is over thanks to the impact of Brexit.
Speaking at the Token2049 conference in London, Smith said that from Blockchain.com’s vantage as a venture capital investor — through its subsidiary Blockchain Ventures — more crypto startups appear to be setting up shop in Europe in the aftermath of Brexit.
The key reason for that, according to Smith, is that it is no longer possible for companies to use licences offered by United Kingdom regulators to “passport” their services into other parts of Europe. Blockchain.com itself is opening an office in Germany to get around the issue.
The net effect of this, according to Smith, is that London is no longer the fintech hub of the world or indeed Europe. “With the Brexit, that’s definitely over,” he said.
The notion of London as a fintech hub first emerged during George Osborne’s tenure as chancellor. He rolled out a series of pro-fintech policies and, in 2015, launched the lobby group Innovate Finance. Some of London’s biggest fintech lenders and neobanks emerged during this period.
Blockchain Ventures has invested in some 35 crypto startups, including Blockdaemon, BCB Group and Figure.
Its parent company Blockchain.com has raised $420 million across two rounds in 2021 alone, the most recent of which valued the company at $5.2 billion.
But Smith said on the panel that the firm has also secured in the region of $2 billion in debt financing. “Which I think makes us one of the most highly financed startups in Europe,” he added.