London Fintech Week 2015 Summary: Looking Ahead
By Luc Delany
London Fintech Week 2015 Summary: Looking Ahead
18 Sep 2015 - Data

As it’s London Fintech Week, Delany & Co attended a number of events throughout the week including a Payments Special held by Fintech Storm that demoed some truly remarkable products. It provided only a glimpse of the potential that Fintech has to transform the way everyday business will be conducted.

London Fintech Week was originally created in part to acknowledge the burgeoning innovation sector of finance in the UK. With world class financial centres in the City and Canary Wharf alongside Europe’s fastest growing tech cluster known as Tech City, it was only a matter of time before the two did business.

While UK investors are still not nearly as forward-thinking as those in Silicon Valley they’re catching up fast. The booming Fintech sector has brought financial innovations to consumer payments, mobile wallets and cryptocurrencies, with only business-to-business payments left behind so far. London’s Fintech scene is currently enjoying the world’s fastest investment growth. The Capital’s tech sector has created 30,000 jobs in five years, and recently received record funding – largely due to Fintech success stories. Out of a pool of $49.7bn of global investment in financial tech since January 2010, Britain has snapped up $5.4bn, making it the clear leader in Europe. Having created billion-dollar startups, attracted record investment and keeping major banks on their toes – it obvious that the London Fintech scene is having its moment in the sun.

So far the current conservative government has done much to support the burgeoning London Fintech scene. Innovate UK was set up in response to the rapidly changing financial landscape to allow the Financial Conduct Authority to keep up with new business models entering the financial system. In July, the Treasury published its  ‘Productivity Plan’ to sort out Britain’s sluggishness; it contains a number of positive moves relating to the financial technology sector:

  • Establishing a ‘New Bank’ unit to fast-track the regulatory approval for new prospective mobile banks like Mondo and Atom Bank.
  • Benchmarking the UK’s Fintech sector against its international competitors and finding areas for improvement.
  • Appointing Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge as Special Envoy for FinTech to champion the sector.

Effective financial regulation is crucial to the future success of UK Fintech and it represents a particular challenge to regulators because it can often be outside of regulatory restrictions. Financial regulation is thought of as increasingly complex and intrusive, with all significant financial institutions facing multiple regulatory jurisdictions, and regulators requesting increasing amounts of data from firms to ensure compliance.

In order for UK Fintech to continue its success and to allow startups to take advantage of its lucrative opportunities, there are a number of recommendations that should be seriously considered:

  • Education – more needs to be done to educate both those wanting to work in Fintech and the consumers who are currently using and benefitting from its innovation. Greater engagement and building familiarity with Fintech products particularly on user interface and security will lead to greater adoption, understanding and usage. University engagement and greater academic research on Fintech would certainly be welcome; as well as government certified training academies and programmes.
  • Simplifying current systems – there is an opportunity to modernise infrastructure, automate reporting and encourage the data reporters (banks, etc.) to modernise their own systems and market infrastructure. This could add significant economic value by reducing costs, improving transparency and trust, and allowing for positive new business models.
  • Regulation which facilitates and supports – complying with existing regulations and coping with future regulatory changes represents the biggest challenge for startups to break into the potentially lucrative world of Fintech. The best way forward for financial technology is by “future-proofing” the industry through appropriate and well thought through legislation to allow for new technological developments.
  • Building a RegTech community – by getting UK regulators, financial institutions, FinTech companies, training companies and universities to work together to produce a highly automated and effective ‘data-driven’ regulatory system.

(More on UK FinTech can be found in the FinTech Futures Report by the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser)

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Featured image credit: r.nagy / Shutterstock