Innovation is born out of crisis, so is Brexit good news for tech companies?

For most tech startups, Brexit is a cause for deep concern but others are raising the Brexittech flag. So is this just a case of opportunistic marketing? Or is a whole new tech category about to open up?

"Innovation happens in tough moments," says Marwan Forzley, CEO of San Francisco-based payments company, Veem. "It will be the same with Brexit. We will see new things being put onto the table."

Forzley has a point. In the wake of the great financial crisis, when bank lending to businesses slowed from a torrent to a trickle, the technology industry responded by creating alternative finance platforms. Arguably, the arrival of the first peer-to-peer lending and equity crowdfunding businesses back in 2011 marked the beginning of a much bigger and broader fintech revolution.

So will Brexit - when and if it happens - also spur the creative juices of ambitious technology startups? There can be no doubt that Britain and its European neighbours are, indeed, facing a tough moment. As yet, we don't know with any certainty how challenging that moment will turn out to be, but if the UK finds itself outside the European club without any agreement on interim measures, it's safe to say that the smooth flow of goods through ports and airports will be disrupted and businesses will also find themselves dealing with new and unfamiliar layers of administrative bureaucracy. The likelihood is it will become more costly and more difficult to trade.

So there is clearly an opportunity for technology companies to provide solutions that will help businesses to mitigate the impact of Brexit.

Marketing matters

And as things stand, Brexit is beginning to play a role in the way that certain providers are marketing themselves to potential customers. Veem is a case in point. The company has built a global payments system based on what it describes as "multi-rail" technology. Put simply, if one business wants to transfer cash to another, Veem provides a means to do so simply using a range of transfer technologies, including blockchain.

With its eye on the UK market, Veem recently announced a Beat Brexit programme to encourage businesses to trade globally. Based on the assumption that Brexit will trigger major currency fluctuations, Veem is offering to reimburse those who spend £100,000 on the system with a £1,000 payment. As Forzley explains, the money will encourage businesses to carry on moving around by cushioning any losses that might result from a sudden change in the value of the pound. "We saw a lot of people buying currencies before the first Brexit deadline," he says. "Businesses looking at ways to manage risk." 

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