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Fintech sector would be hit hard if UK leaves EU, warns consultancy chief

By Margaret canning

Northern Ireland's thriving financial technology sector would suffer if Britain left the EU, a major consultancy firm has said.

OCO Global, which specialises in advising foreign firms on investing in the region, said a Brexit would hit the banking, fintech and ICT sectors hard because they rely on EU-wide data protection and regulation.

In today's Economy Watch in Business Telegraph, OCO chief executive Mark O'Connell tells Andrew Webb: "An exit will undermine the conditions for these industries to thrive."

And he claimed those businesses which had come out in favour of Brexit were those with a firmly national customer base.

"It is interesting that many of the firms such as JD Wetherspoon or major UK retailers who have come out supporting Brexit are totally domestic businesses and do not depend on Europe for clients or suppliers and can afford to take this position."

And he said Northern Ireland's new lower rate of corporation tax at 12.5% - which comes into force in April 2018 - would be an "irrelevance" in the event of Brexit.

"What investor would want to make, sell or distribute goods and services from a remote isolated corner of the UK without the guarantee of the same access to the wider EU market that Northern Ireland enjoys now?" he said.

But Danny Moore, the former chief executive of trading technology firm Wombat and one of Northern Ireland's first fintech entrepreneurs, said: "I'm completely on the fence regarding the Brexit - as far as I'm concerned the economies are so intertwined with complex relationships its impossible to know what the impact might be."

Mr Moore is currently chief operating officer of fintech managed services firm Options, which employs 30 people in Belfast.

Last week stockbroking firm Davy published research claiming that uncertainty over the vote on June 23 could diminish the positive impact of Northern Ireland's future 12.5% corporation tax rate Davy has warned that the Republic could be harmed by a Brexit.

The report said: "While severe trade disruption would only occur in the worst-case Brexit scenarios, the key risk for Ireland is that productivity and UK GDP growth are hurt over the long-term by an exit from the EU."

Belfast Telegraph