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Fintech firm Clarus donates 'surprising' £10k government coronavirus grant to charity

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Clarus Financial Technology founder and chief operating officer Gary Kennedy.

Clarus Financial Technology founder and chief operating officer Gary Kennedy.

Clarus Financial Technology founder and chief operating officer Gary Kennedy.

A Belfast-based financial technology company was left so surprised to automatically receive a £10,000 grant from the government - that it did not need - it donated the money to charity.

Clarus Financial Technology founder and chief operating officer Gary Kennedy, however, stressed the Government should not be criticised for acting quickly.

"It is a time of real crisis," he told the Belfast Telegraph, "it is much better to act quickly than to get it right and for that the government should be praised.

"For me it was impressive they did that. It would not have been easy to do. They could have put criteria in place, asked for applications and then paid out the money months down the line and by that stage it would be too late.

"Business have seen income stop overnight. Cafe and restaurants are in dire straits. For us we just felt it inappropriate to accept the money when we have had little impact. It was the right thing to do."

Clarus provides analytics, data and research for derivatives markets. Its services were borne out of the financial crash of 2008 and helps investment firms adhere to regulatory frameworks and give transparency to major transactions.

It has offices in London, Chicago, Geneva and Singapore and most of the business is carried out in the cloud.

Staff at the company's offices in London were left scratching their heads when £10,000 mysteriously appeared in its bank account.

After a few calls it was Dr Kennedy who realised they had benefited from the Northern Ireland Executive's small business grants scheme.

He said that while there has been an impact from the coronavirus on the business it has in the main been on developing new customer relations. They have also had to purchase additional equipment but day-to-day operations continue relatively unaffected.

"We just won't grow this year," Dr Kennedy, who is Belfast-based added.

"We can't develop sales but that is mainly because there is no travel. [Video calling] is great but it is not so effective in closing sales.

He continued: "The company is mainly based in London, it is not a local company with just a Belfast office so it did come as a surprise to learn where the money came from.

"We just felt there were more deserving people and businesses out there."

The firm donated the money to charities on the front line for employment, food and healthcare.

Dr Kennedy added: "This is a very strange time. We would just hope it might encourage others who can do to consider it."

The small business support grant is automatically paid to those firms with which Land and Property Services hold bank details.

Around 30,000 firms are thought to be eligible. The Department for Economy has said around £270million is expected to be paid out.

Belfast Telegraph