It has been a busy seven days for those who work in fintech or follow its developments closely.
A week ago today, we saw unlikely partners come together at the start of the Innovate Finance Global Summit.
The City’s 800 years of Gothic grandeur of the Great Hall played host to leading innovators, investors, politicians, regulators and trade bodies for speeches, roundtables, and pitches from over 1,500 guests. Now in its fourth year, we really have seen this annual convention go from strength to strength, acting as a focal point in the sector’s calendar.
It showed just how the industry can work together, tackle challenges, and look for commercial opportunities. To that end, I am delighted that I will act as vice-chair of the newly established Fintech Strategy Group, created in conjunction with Innovate Finance, which will act as a platform to add further creativity in this area of financial services.
Making sure that fintech has a powerful voice and clout in the future is essential for its organic growth.
Pretty much as soon as we brought the curtain down at Guildhall, the government hosted its own International Fintech Conference, where chancellor Philip Hammond launched the new fintech sector strategy. This followed our calls for a “fintech sector deal” to cement the UK and London as a leading global hub for fintech, while we also saw the establishment of a new crypto-assets taskforce, and plans to make it faster and easier for fintech firms to comply with complex regulations
But perhaps the most significant element was the welcome signature between our chancellor and Scott Morrison, treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, for a fintech bridge agreement to help UK-based fintech firms sell products and services in Australia and promote regulatory cooperation.
Only three weeks earlier, the City’s lord mayor visited Australia, joined by fintech firms, where he spoke about how this cooperation can lead to widespread commercial opportunities.
Why does the City and the government commit so much time and resources to fintech? While the answer on the surface is simple, in that the UK has a thriving fintech sector which employs more than 60,000 people and generates £20bn per year, there’s more to it than that.
As I said in my speech at the Global Summit, fintech is democratising financial services and allowing far greater numbers of people in every country to participate.
We like to think of fintech as an evolution of the financial services industry, in which startups can both compete and collaborate with established financial and professional services industries which we have been home to for many years.
It is therefore not just about the headline figures for jobs and growth. Fintech is a game-changer for competition in financial services, benefiting the consumer, and making their lives cheaper, quicker and easier – whether it’s savings, foreign exchange, keeping track of our spending, applying for mortgages, or buying insurance.
As the chancellor said last week, “Britain is the global capital of fintech”. I couldn’t agree more – we need to shout more about the success of its vibrancy and energy, and something that will ultimately be the future of financial services.