Panic is gripping Britain at the prospect of more talking about Brexit. Theresa May has re-emerged from hiding with a new proposal to deliver Brexit by means of a second referendum, and now everyone is completely confused. "Dominic Raab, former Brexit secretary and a leadership contender, said: 'I cannot support legislation that would be the vehicle for a second referendum or customs union. Either option would frustrate rather than deliver Brexit'." The new plan follows several weeks of talks with the opposition Labour Party, which declared it would not support the new plan. "Some Conservative MPs called for Mrs May to resign immediately rather than risk another humiliation in the House of Commons; the prime minister intends to present her revamped deal to MPs in two weeks' time." WB Yeats' great line about the rough beast that "slouches towards Bethlehem" comes to mind.
UK bank OakNorth last night congratulated Transferwise for taking away OakNorth's temporary crown as most valuable startup in Europe. "Congrats to the whole team at Transferwise," it tweeted. "We enjoyed being Europe's most valuable #fintech while it lasted." Banks congratulating fintechs? Whatever next? Well, Transferwise, it appears, still has plenty of room to expand. "TransferWise says it now serves 5 million customers worldwide, processing £4 billion every month," notes Techcrunch. "Every year it estimates it saves customers £1 billion in bank fees. The service currently supports 1,600 currency routes, and is available for 49 currencies. The company employs over 1,600 people across twelve global offices and says it will hire 750 more people in the next 12 months. Audited financials for fiscal year ending March 2018 revealed 77 percent revenue growth to £117 million and a net profit of £6.2 million after tax." The business has become so successful and pervasive, it's easy to forget that co-founder Taavet Hinkirus had already created a successful disruptive business as the first employee at Skype — which now sits in the Microsoft stable.
German startup Raisin has grabbed hold of a market that didn't excite many others. Germans are great savers but the paltry one percent interest rates on offer didn't excite anyone. In 2013, Raisin stepped in to offer Europeans a way to move money to another country where higher rates are on offer, and the company hasn't looked back since. "A few years back, a key market for Raisin was the German saver stuck with a 1% or lower interest rate on savings, but who could grab a better return in Portugal, or even more outside the eurozone in Bulgaria (3% or more). Its service highlighted a lack of integration in Europe's banking market, which was still mainly run along national lines. Raisin now has 175,000 customers across Europe and more than 75 bank partners." Earlier this year, Raisin pulled the now common fintech trick of buying a bank, and now it's moving to the US where it hopes to gain market share with the assistance of US community banks. "If it catches on, Raisin's deposit brokerage service could help perk up deposits for smaller US lenders. By joining the platform, community banks could reach retail depositors across the country, helping them compete with the nation's mega banks, which can afford to spend heavily on technology and advertising, and have a large branch footprint."
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