Silicon Valley’s Plaid heads to the UK, undeterred by Brexit

New York • Fintech (financial technology) start-up Plaid Inc is expanding its footprint into the UK, a region it believes could eventually match the US in terms of revenue, despite political uncertainty.

Founded in 2012, San Francisco- based Plaid helps customers and banks transmit data back and forth. The service has caught the attention of major investors, including Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, garnering a valuation of US$2.65 billion (RM11.13 billion) last year.

The start-up allows digital finance companies, like PayPal Holdings Inc or Betterment LLC, to more easily link with consumers’ existing bank accounts. The company currently works with more than 15,000 banks in the US and Canada. The UK will be its first overseas expansion.

Plaid co-founder and CEO Zach Perret said he has been “impressed” by the start-ups in the UK’s fintech industry. “The UK market could be a major challenger to the US” in terms of revenue for the company, Perret said.

A few months ago, Plaid acquired rival fintech start-up Quovo, which had already been approved to operate in the UK. That licence will transfer over to Plaid, the company said.

During the first three months of 2019, Europe as a whole saw more venture capital funding for fintech companies than Asia for the first time in more than a year, according to a recent report from CB Insights. (The US is still No 1 for funding.) Even with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the possibility of a shifting landscape for financial companies, UK fintech companies continued to lead Europe in terms funding, taking in US$645 million in the first quarter.

Perret said the fintech activity in the UK made it an appealing place to open up shop, calling London and the surrounding area an “incredible ecosystem” for the industry. “We are actively hiring in the UK and have a number of people on the ground there already,” Perret said. — Bloomberg