U.S. fintech Brex opens 40-person Vancouver office

Brex Inc. is setting up its first international office in Vancouver's downtown | Photo: Albert Normandin, Destination BC

What happened: American fintech Brex is employing 40 local workers in its first international office

Why it matters: U.S. companies have been targeting Vancouver in recent months

Add Brex Inc. to the growing number of American companies that have taken a shine to Vancouver the past few months.

The American financial technology firm announced Tuesday (March 3) it’s opening its first international office in the city, employing 40 local workers.

Staff will initially focus on engineering and customer service, but San Francisco-based Brex said those roles would expand over time as it grows its operations in downtown Vancouver.

The company also has offices in Salt Lake City and New York City.

Brex specializes in developing corporate cards for tech startups and innovation companies, as well as cash-management accounts and travel programs.

Founded by Brazilians Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Fransceschi, the company described Vancouver as a “magnet for a global workforce” in the Tuesday announcement.

B.C. has become increasingly alluring to international firms in recent months.

Mastercard Inc. revealed plans in January to launch a $510-million R&D centre in downtown Vancouver that would employ 380 workers.

A week earlier, Silicon Valley-based Tipalti Inc. announced it was opening an office in the city, while fellow California tech firm Grammarly Inc. opened a 3,000-square-foot site in Gastown last fall.

“As U.S. immigration policies tighten, savvy companies are setting their sights on Canada as an alternative destination for talent,” a February report from Chicago-based Envoy Global Inc. stated.

Envoy Global found more than half (51%) of U.S. employers it surveyed were considering Canada for expansion plans — up from 38% a year earlier.

It pointed to initiatives such Ottawa’s Global Talent Stream — a program launched in June 2017 in a bid to ease domestic talent shortages — as an example of Canada’s more progressive immigration strategy.

Instead of making companies in need of specific talent complete a labour market impact assessment — often described as onerous by employers — the program promises to process 80% of work permit applications within 10 business days.

Since then, a steady stream of international workers has been coming into cities like Vancouver as American firms find themselves recruiting international talent and basing those workers in Canada.