Fintech firm Lightyear chooses Belfast to base its global operations

Brothers Roger (left) and Chris Gregg have chosen Belfast to base their fintech start-up
Gary McDonald Business Editor

CO Armagh-born fintech entrepreneurs and brothers Chris (34) and Roger Gregg (47) have returned from Australia to set up a financial technology firm in Belfast, initially creating 15 jobs but with the promise of more to come.

Lightyear, which has based itself at the Innovation Centre at Catalyst Inc, provides cutting edge software which automates data entry and streamlines the accounts payable (AP) process for businesses and groups of all sizes.

And they plan to aggressively build out the current AP offering from their new Belfast base and expand the platform's functionality into other areas of supply management, procurement and payments.

The brothers have spent most of their working lives in Sydney, Australia, and Silicon Valley in the US, and have pedigree in the data automation sector, having founded and then sold the accounts payable application Invitbox to US tech giant Intuit in 2014.

But Belfast's emergence as a leading innovation hub for fintech, along with Invest NI's support, persuaded them to establish their global headquarters at the science park.

Chief executive Chris Gregg said: “We evaluated many locations to run our global operations, but Belfast was the clear winner.

"The calibre of tech talent, particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning is world class.

"Belfast also offers a great entry point to the European and US markets and allows us to offer near 24/7 global support in partnership with our Australian office.

"Invest NI's engagement convinced us that this was the right move. Being a Northern Ireland native, I'm excited to support the local economy and create our next global success story from right here in Belfast.”

Last year a knowledge economy report produced by Ulster University Economic Policy Centre identified that 3.5 million jobs have been created as a result of automation in the UK between 2001 and 2015 and stressed the need for businesses to adopt new innovations to stay competitive.

Chris added: "Digital disruption is already changing the face of compliance services in the accounting industry and Lightyear is strategically placing itself to partner with forward-thinking accountants, book-keepers and businesses who seek to harness technology to stay ahead of the pack.''

Alan Wilson, Invest NI's director of international investment, said: “In recent years, Northern Ireland has established itself as a global leader in IT and fintech solutions and this is further enhanced by Lightyear's decision to set up its global headquarters here. Its confidence in the region is underpinned by the high level of fintech, software and dev-ops skills available here.

“Lightyear may be our first fintech investment from Australia, but we will be exhibiting at Sibos in Sydney in October to make more Australians aware of Northern Ireland's position as a top European location for high-value financial services investment."

Invest NI has offered Lightyear support of £118,000 towards research & development activities and the creation of six new jobs. This offer will also leverage the creation of nine additional jobs at the business.

"Not only is this great news for our ICT sector, but it but will provide excellent employment opportunities paying salaries above the private sector median,” Mr Wilson added.

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