Iwoca has announced it will become the first major European fintech firm to open an office in Leeds.
Bosses said they will establish a base in the city, which will serve as its first regional office, because it is a heartland for financial services.
Seema Desai, iwoca’s chief operating officer, said: “Leeds has a strong heritage in financial services and banking but we wanted to play a major role in the city’s fintech evolution.
“We looked at several cities and Leeds stood out as a natural second home from where we could support even more small businesses across the UK.”
She added: “We were particularly impressed with the size and quality of Leeds’ talent pool, its strong and improving infrastructure, as well as the city’s own distinctive culture and soul.
“But we remain at the start of our journey – our aim is to fund one million small businesses so we need smart, hands-on people to help us reach this goal.”
Ms Desai added: “We wanted to be able to tap into the rich pool of talent outside London. Leeds is a wonderful city. “
Leeds will eventually accommodate up to 100 company employees and be home to iwoca’s growing team of developers, customer-support officers and relationship managers.
The first Leeds office is due to open early in the New Year.
The company received support from Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s trade and investment team and the Department of International Trade throughout the decision-making process.
Iwoca is in a period of rapid growth and has increased its headcount by 50 per cent in the last year.
The small-business lender currently employs more than 300 people, with the majority based in its London offices. It also has an operation in Frankfurt.
Earlier this year, iwoca announced it had secured a £10m grant via the Capability and Innovation Fund with the aim of helping businesses improve lending or payment services to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) across the UK.
As part of the win, iwoca committed to opening a regional office to serve its UK-wide customer base, of which 79 per cent are outside London.
Roger Marsh OBE, chairman of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11, added: “I am delighted to welcome iwoca, one of Europe’s largest fintechs, to the Leeds City Region following a national selection exercise.”
He added: “The region is the second centre for banking in the UK, employing over 28,500 people and home to over 30 national and international banks which provides a very favourable ecosystem for fintechs to thrive.
“This, coupled with a pipeline bursting with talent and a supportive business environment, ensures that the region is an attractive place for global fintech companies to invest and grow.”
Coun Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council, added: “We are delighted to welcome iwoca to Leeds. Their ethos and commitment to helping small businesses aligns with our ambitions locally.
“Their presence in the city will be a real win for both the local economy and our smaller businesses.”
The office’s precise location will be revealed in the New Year.