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Peer2Peer Finance News | November 22, 2017

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Zopa’s Andrews warns on post-Brexit skills shortage

Zopa’s Andrews warns on post-Brexit skills shortage
Suzie Neuwirth

THE UK is facing a technology skills shortage that may worsen because of Brexit, Zopa’s co-founder and chairman has warned.

Giles Andrews (pictured) said that the peer-to-peer consumer lender’s decision to open a hub in Barcelona was partly due to a concern that it would be harder to recruit top tech talent following the UK’s departure from the EU.

“Opening the Barcelona office is an acknowledgement of the challenge of recruiting highly skilled developers in this country, and a concern that the situation might get worse because of Brexit,” he said in an exclusive interview with Peer2Peer Finance News. “I don’t think it makes you a radical pessimist to say that now.”

The world’s older peer-to-peer lending firm unveiled plans to open the Barcelona hub in June this year, heralding the Catalan capital’s “exciting and fast-growing tech scene”.

There are currently around a dozen people working there, developing technology both for Zopa’s existing platforms and for its planned digital bank.

Andrews said that Barcelona’s international community and its attractiveness to Zopa’s UK staff played a part in choosing the city over more typical European tech hubs such as Warsaw, Bucharest or Berlin.

Read more: Zopa scales back higher-risk lending due to UK consumer credit outlook

“It’s very international,” Andrews said. “There are lots of people there from all over the world, in the same way that there are in London. Also, it’s really important that these operations are very well integrated and there is more enthusiasm from the people here to spend time in Barcelona than there might have been for some of those other places.”

Zopa unveiled its plans to apply for a banking licence late last year. The banking operations will sit separately to the firm’s core P2P business, but will enable the firm to offer a wider range of services to UK consumers.

In June, the platform announced that it had closed a £32m equity fundraising led by Indian conglomerate Wadhawan Global Capital (WGC) and European venture capital fund Northzone, that would be used to finance the build-out of its bank infrastructure.