Fintech firm Plaid has hired Ripsy Bandourian, a longtime executive, to run its European operations.

Bandourian joined Plaid last week and is working from their Dutch offices in Amsterdam. She will be tasked with leading the expansion of the new San Francisco-based company into continental Europe. Keith Grose, previously international director of Plaid, now focuses solely on running the business in the UK.

The Armenian-born entrepreneur brings a mix of experience to the world of fintech. She originally studied molecular biology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before moving to New York to take a job as a quantitative analyst at Goldman Sachs. After a consulting period with McKinsey, she moved to London to work for Apple’s European division.

Bandourian joined in 2014 and has worked for the online travel platform for more than eight years in a variety of product and marketing-focused roles. She most recently served as vice president of global lodging partnerships, overseeing’s relationships with hotel partners.

Bandourian told GLM that his reasons for joining Plaid were both “personal” and professional.

“I have lived my life on three different continents,” said Bandourian. “And there is absolutely no way for me to take my financial history with me. There are no tools, there are no ways to make it easier. And this is a use case.”

Plaid’s technology enables fintech companies like Venmo and Robinhood to connect to customers’ bank accounts so users can log in and share their financial data securely. It’s part of a fast-growing trend known as “open banking.”

The company, which also offers payment tools in some markets, says it plans “aggressive” expansion in Europe this year. Its services are currently available in seven European countries, including the UK, Germany and France. Plaid also plans to roll out to other markets soon, including Poland, Belgium, and the Nordic countries.

“The plans are pretty aggressive,” Bandourian said. “The investment Plaid is making in Europe speaks to the opportunity the company sees for itself and the depth and speed with which we are evolving.”

Plaid’s plans for Europe include increasing its workforce (the company currently employs around 80 people in the region) and hiring individual country managers for France and Germany. Plaid’s clients in Europe include cryptocurrency exchange Kraken and dating app Bumble.

The open banking trend has gained significant traction in Europe over the years. That’s partly due to fintech-friendly regulations introduced in 2018 that require banks to share user data with third parties at the request of consumers.

The number of open banking users on the continent reached 12.2 million in 2020, according to data from Statista, a figure that is expected to rise to 63.8 million by 2024.

Big companies and investors are taking notice. Last month, Apple acquired Credit Kudos, a London-based fintech that uses consumers’ bank details to conduct more informed credit checks. Meanwhile, Visa bought Tink, a European Plaid competitor, for more than $2 billion.

Plaid was last privately valued at $13.4bn after a $5.3bn deal for Visa to take over fell apart.

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