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London to be Facebook’s HQ for WhatsApp payment service

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
WhatsApp is set to expand in London. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Facebook has chosen London as its HQ for a new WhatsApp payment service, with dozens of new roles set to be created in the capital.

The move is a significant win for the UK’s fintech scene which is hoping to monetise WhatsApp’s 1.5 billion users worldwide.

“We’re eager to work with some of the best technical and operational experts in both London and Dublin to take WhatsApp into its second decade,” Matt Idema, WhatsApp’s chief operating officer, told Yahoo Finance UK.

“WhatsApp is a truly global service and these teams will help us provide WhatsApp payments and other great features for our users everywhere.”

A new team of around 100 software engineers in London and Dublin will see WhatsApp’s staff grow by a quarter, according to the Financial Times. It is believed to only have around 400 staff overall at present, despite its size.

Facebook is said to have picked the UK’s multicultural capital because it attracts many professionals from countries around the world where WhatsApp has some of its biggest customer base, such as India.

READ MORE: European investment in UK tech hits record high

The company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said WhatsApp’s move into facilitating payments via the app will be rolled out in several countries this year.

Recruitment has already begun, with senior engineers who were among WhatsApp’s founders reportedly sent to London last year to begin the search for talent.

It comes as new data shows investment in the UK’s tech scene holding up, despite a year of huge uncertainty over Brexit’s impact on Britain’s economy.

European investment in UK tech firms even hit a record high last year, with funds based in the EU piling £1.89bn into Britain’s tech sector in 2018.

The research, by law firm Penningtons Manches, showed 70% of investment was in firms based in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ of London, Oxford and Cambridge.

READ MORE: Europe’s fastest-growing countries in 2019