Why a European Fintech Firm Expanded to Stamford: ‘A Perfect Match for Us’

Why a European Fintech Firm Expanded to Stamford: ‘A Perfect Match for Us’ Main Photo

13 Mar 2024



STAMFORD — For generations, Stamford has ranked as one of the largest hubs for financial services on the east coast. Today, the city is still attracting newcomers, but they are different from earlier arrivals because many of them focus on building the technology that underpins the financial industry.

Highlighting Stamford’s emergence in the past few years as a destination for financial-technology firms, state officials including Gov. Ned Lamont gathered Tuesday with executives at Banking Circle, a European-headquartered payments bank that has been ramping up its U.S. operations since opening its U.S. headquarters in downtown Stamford in late 2022. Lamont’s administration hopes that Banking Circle will be a trailblazer, particularly since the company is operating under a new type of state banking charter that could be granted to a number of other fintech firms in the near future.

“Stamford and Connecticut in general have a rich history of supporting financial services. We’ve got access to talent, and we’ve got access to a sophisticated regulator,” Anders la Cour, co-founder of Banking Circle, the chairman of its board, and CEO of Banking Circle Group, said during a press conference at the company’s offices at 750 Washington Blvd. “They’re all components that I think were a perfect match for us.”

Banking Circle opened its offices at 750 Washington in the fall of 2022, as it sought to emulate in the U.S., its fast growth in Europe in the past few years. The company processes more than 10 percent of Europe’s business-to-consumer “e-commerce flows” and processed more than 250 billion Euros of payment volumes, according to its website. The company is not a retail bank, but rather one that serves banks, payment-services providers and corporations.

The company’s operations in the U.S. are still nascent. But it reached a milestone on Feb. 1, by beginning its commercial operations in the U.S., with the processing of payments for its first client.

To support its U.S. business, Banking Circle now has about two-dozen employees based in Connecticut. Company officials anticipate significant hiring in the next few years, pointing to the capacity for about 60 people in the Washington Boulevard offices, which cover about 9,000 square feet. The Connecticut-based employees complement more than 450 employees in Europe, who work across the company’s headquarters in Luxembourg and offices in Copenhagen, London and Munich.

A new type of state “innovation” banking charter, of which Banking Circle is the first recipient, is crucial to the company’s growth in the U.S. Officials in the state Department of Banking said that the new charter is ideally suited to fintech firms that want to provide banking services, without taking retail deposits. They said that the charter could also help Connecticut-based firms to reduce their regulatory burden in other parts of the country because they said the charter provides an exemption to money-services laws in many other states.

“Our goal is for the state to be a place of choice for fintech companies,” said state Department of Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez.  

Banking Circle’s U.S. CEO, Kjeld Olson, praised the Department of Banking for, “supporting us, making this possible and reaching this fantastic milestone.”

Banking Circle joins a number of other fintech companies — including Digital Currency Group, iCapital, Oasis Pro Markets, Mirador and Tomo Networks — that have announced plans in the past three years to relocate to Connecticut or expand their operations in the state. Some of those companies are eligible to receive jobs-based state subsidies to support their growth, but Banking Circle will not be receiving state funding.

State officials are hoping that, in the long term, the fintech firms will help to revitalize the state’s financial services industry, whose employment numbers plunged in the years after the 2008 financial crisis. There were 117,500 jobs in financial activities in Connecticut at the end of 2023 — down about 1 percent from the end of 2022 and down nearly 20 percent from March 2008, when the state reached its all-time payroll employment peak, according to data from the state Department of Labor data.

“I love entrepreneurial companies, and what a difference they’re making,” Lamont said. “You don’t see that any more pronounced than you have in the fintech and payments world. Banking Circle is an extraordinary leader, and we want to be your partner.”  


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