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23rd May, 2014

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Talent, ties, and why FinTech isn’t just about London
8th July, 2014

Hotwire’s Flick Hudson reports from last week’s UK FinTech Industry Summit. 

The members of the first panel of the day at The UK FinTech Industry Summit light-heartedly divided themselves into two camps – those with ties, and those without.

All those with, noted that they were from Government, or on their way for a meeting later. A throwaway comment, though this seems to neatly embody the essence of Level 39, which Eric Van Der Kleij described in his opening remarks as “a meeting place for the established and the innovators”.

In the heart of Canary Wharf, enjoying a magnificent view across the glittering towers of some of the world’s largest financial institutions, he noted that Level 39’s “Disrupt Us” days often result in collaboration between these two ‘camps’ – a force for progress and improvement rather than attack.

Continuing the theme of FinTech innovation as a force for good, Andrea Leadsom MP gave an insightful overview of the policy and regulatory environment for this sector. Dismissing Picasso’s assertion that “Computers are useless” (on the basis that they only give you answers), the minister spoke passionately about technology’s ability to deliver positive change.

Change for people – improving the system for those that use it; change to create competition – which should “always trump regulation”; and change with regard to jobs and talent – building the UK as the location of choice for global business. Her final plea, was that all those in the room remember that UK plc extends beyond London – a national mind-set that’s of crucial importance in our country’s economic recovery.

The theme of the first panel discussion was undoubtedly talent, as representatives from the UKTI, HM Treasury, City of London Corporation, techUK and Ernst &Young, London & Partners, and Platform Black debated how we make the most of the FinTech industry’s potential. It was agreed that the UK has the best overseas trade network in Europe, and that the pool of entrepreneurial, highly expert technologists makes the UK an attractive and powerful magnet for inward investment. The ‘open-ness’ of the UK emerged as a key talking point, acknowledging that the current visa policy is not always well suited to the fast moving tech industry.

The presentations that followed to highlight the potential impact of FinTech were truly fascinating, showcasing a wide range of innovations. Giles Andrews, founder and CEO of Zopa highlighted that his business (like many others) does not aspire to replace banks, simply deliver efficient competition in one narrow area. With a smile – “unfortunately for the banks, some of these narrow areas are quite lucrative!”

We heard from Rich Wagner, CEO APS – “the oldest start up in the room” – about his mission to transform the way people bank. Providing easy and transparent banking services to both consumers and SMEs, he is greatly looking forward to the introduction of the new Payment Systems Regulator, which will weaken the ‘old boys’ network’ to give challengers access to the clearing systems.

Philippe Gelis, CEO Kantox explained how his platform is bringing FX transparency to SMEs and mid-caps, eliminating opaque dealings with traditional banks and brokers to allow these smaller businesses to take control of their finances.

Neil Costigan, CEO BehavioSec spoke about frictionless security, the evolution of risk management to a real-time, adaptive model, and how machine learning algorithms used in gaming can be applied to anticipate behavioural patterns of fraudsters.

The sessions concluded with several industry veterans – Mike Laven, CEO Currency Cloud, Alex Mifsud, CEO Ixaris and Tim Attinger, Head of Global Development at Monetise sharing tales of their path to success as FinTech business.

On the hottest day of the year so far, delegates left ‘Eastminster’, and walked out into the sunshine with no doubt that the hottest sector at the moment – is FinTech.

 

 

 

 

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