UK fintech comes of age
1 November 2018
Financial technology is disrupting financial services firms throughout the world, transforming the way we transfer, borrow, protect and manage our money.
The UK is at the heart of the fintech revolution changing the face of financial services across the globe, reaching everything from capital markets to banking infrastructure. Disruption is infiltrating every aspect of financial services as we know it, touching payments, regulation, insurance and property to name but a few. We are also seeing new technologies come under the tech umbrella: artificial intelligence, IoT, and of course, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain boom.
UK fintech is coming of age. Money is flowing into the sector throughout the world, reaching record highs in 2017, with over $1.8billion invested in the UK, a 153 per cent jump on the previous year. The ecosystem employs 76,000 people and several fintechs have become household names, raising hundreds of millions of pounds, with hopes of employing more people and expanding overseas. It is now seen as a viable career choice, with high-profile execs and young professionals, from both banks and technology firms, taking the leap into a sector they believe will succeed. It is therefore vital that we invest in the pipeline to ensure we are equipping our future workforce with sufficient numbers of the right talent and skills.
But the sector is not without its challenges. Across UK fintech, many businesses have watched recent events surrounding the Brexit negotiations unfold with a growing sense of unease. For this sector to continue to thrive and succeed, shared access to cross-border data, sources of capital funding, and international skills and talent are all required.
Without such access, many tech businesses – especially those start-ups that are scaling the success of UK fintech – will struggle to maintain the impressive growth we have seen, putting jobs across the technology and finance sectors at risk.
The rapid rise of fintech has caused banks and other institutions to look inwardly and assess whether legacy systems and processes are still applicable and viable. We are now seeing the start of a new type of bank: it has fintech labs, it partners with start-ups, and recruits technologists and coders. One of the key drivers behind this in the UK was the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and open banking. This regulation has the potential to bring about real and lasting change in the financial services industry, rethinking how products and services are offered and delivered. It has set the precedent for a new open and more collaborative way of working and consuming.
However, it is also vital in this swiftly changing landscape that we protect consumers as financial technology companies continue to grow in size, scale up and spread their wings to international markets. Regulators are grappling with how they can continue to let innovation thrive, without adding to market risk. The UK has played a leading role as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s consultation on a global regulatory sandbox has resulted in the creation of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN). This will seek to provide a more efficient way for innovative firms to interact with regulators, helping them navigate between countries as they look to scale new ideas.
Charlotte Crosswell is CEO of Innovate Finance, an independent membership association that represents the UK’s global fintech community. Founded in 2014 and supported by the City of London and Broadgate, it is a not-for-profit that advances the country’s leading position in the financial services sector by supporting the next generation of technology-led financial services innovators.
More than 250 global members have joined the Innovate Finance ecosystem to date. These companies range from seed-stage start-ups to global financial institutions and professional services firms. All benefit from Innovate Finance’s leading position as a single point of access to promote enabling policy and regulation, talent development, and business opportunity and investment capital.
By bringing together the most forward-thinking participants in financial services, Innovate Finance is helping create a global financial services sector that is more sustainable, more inclusive and better for everyone.
To find out more, please visit: innovatefinance.com
Originally published in Business Reporter Online: Future of banking and fintech - October 2018