The challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit

Posted on the 7th September 2016 by Hamish Anderson in SME blog

The challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit

Brexit is not just about fear, uncertainty and challenges, there will be opportunities too.

We are living in astonishing political times, with the unprecedented fallout of the UK’s decision to vote to leave the European Union in June’s referendum still playing out around us. A weakened pound, downgraded national credit ratings and sweeping changes within the heart of government: it’s no wonder business leaders everywhere are feeling anxious and uncertain about their future prospects.

As the CEO of Money Mover, I was surprised and disappointed waking up on June 24th to find the UK would be leaving the EU. As a leading FinTech business based in the UK city of Cambridge, we didn’t feel the ‘Leave’ agenda was in the best interests of the UK. And the decision taken by 52% of the electorate certainly presents us with new challenges, not least in the legislative and structural changes like to affect the way in which UK payments are regulated, designed and executed in the future.

Other challenges include: 

Cross border payments

Being outside of the EU threatens our ability to ‘passport’ regulatory authorisation from one country to another in a straightforward way. Being unable to access a market of 500 million consumers – and several million businesses – will make it difficult for companies like ours to scale.

More specifically, Brexit is likely to lead to the UK’s exit from the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) which greatly facilitates cross-border payments within the bloc.

New costs

We may need to set up operations in EU member countries so that we can benefit from regulatory passporting within the EU – something which will bring additional costs and resources to deal with the extra paperwork infrastructure and regulatory burden.

Access to capital and investment

The air of uncertainty created by Brexit will no doubt give potential investors reason to delay or cancel their proposed investment in UK-based start-ups – and we also risk the loss of investment from bodies such as the European Investment Fund.

Recruitment

While we do not yet employ any staff from outside the UK, we know that 30% of UK FinTech workers are from our European neighbours and further afield. We have already faced major challenges in (unsuccessfully) obtaining visas for key members of our team, which is a situation that will only get worse in the future.

However…

It’s easy to be gloomy in the face of such an irresolute landscape, but new challenges will also be accompanied by fresh opportunities.

We have chosen to operate in a highly-regulated environment and have always embraced changes when they arise – and that won’t change. We spend plenty of time ploughing through paperwork and regulatory requirements, so we’re well positioned to respond to more.

If certain commentators are to be believed, Brexit could spell the end of the EU as we know it, with further fragmentation and national breakaways in the offing in the coming years. This may well lead to the re-adoption of legacy currencies, such as the French Franc or German Deutsche Mark which will increase the requirement for foreign exchange and cross-border payments – giving companies like ours a real boost.

Of course, nobody can really say what the likely impact will be once Article 50 is invoked at some point in the next 24 months. But while negativity may rule the day now, it is up to businesses everywhere to find a positive way to find success regardless of the political and economic landscape that unfolds beneath our feet.

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