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UK fintech feels the force

Sam Shead | July 23, 2015
The UK financial technology scene appears to be taking off far quicker than sectors like mediatech, adtech, traveltech and foodtech.

"We saw entrepreneurs emerge from the financial sector with less job security and therefore a greater willingness to take risks and start their own companies," said Burbidge. "These same entrepreneurs had witnessed years and years of inefficiencies at larger institutions and were poised to exploit those vulnerabilities. The regulatory environment understood that the economy shouldn't be so dependent on just a small number of financial institutions - and therefore sought to encourage new competition and be generally more progressive in catalysing new innovators."

What's more, these same entrepreneurs were able to receive mentoring and advice through dedicated fintech accelerators like Level39 in Canary Wharf - a space headed up by former Tech City UK CEO Eric Van der Kleij. Banks like Barclays and RBS have also established their own accelerator programmes with help from the likes of startup accelerators TechStars and Entrepreneurial Spark respectively.

London loves fintech
London is arguably at the front of the global fintech race, beating the likes of New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Last month, a survey conducted with the global fintech community by accelerator Startupbootcamp FinTech found that 63 percent of entrepreneurs perceive London to be the world's leading fintech city, up from 51 percent in 2014. And they'd be right to do so.

A separate study carried out by London & Partners, the Mayor's promotional company for London, found that in the year leading up to last November, fintech companies in London attracted more than $539 million - triple the amount raised in 2013 - and an amount representing more than half of all fintech investment across Europe.

There's good reason London's fintech companies are doing well when it comes to fundraising, according to Burbidge. "I genuinely believe true disruption is going to come from London and the UK," she said. "There are inherent advantages here for entrepreneurs and investors."

Advantages Burbidge refers to include the GMT time zone that allows the UK to transact with the Americas and Asia in the same business day, something no other financial hub can do. There are also 100,000 "knowledge workers" in London's financial services sector and the headquarters of 300 world banks.

In addition, Burbidge believes the UK Government and UK banking regulators are keen to encourage competition, open up banking data and call for reviews of new technologies such as digital currencies.

Supporting these statements is the fact that the Treasury has announced "The FinTech benchmarking exercise" in a bid to identify emerging areas of fintech opportunity, consider the UK's performance against other countries, and identify best practice from around the world that might be applicable to the UK. The results of the exercise will be published in the Autumn.


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