London Technology Week: Britain's brilliant at FinTech - now it must realise its global ambitions

Alastair Lukies
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London's FinTech industry heads for parliament and beyond

Anyone who’s seen Love Actually will remember the speech by Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister when he stands up to the US President and explains some of the unique things about Great Britain that make our nation truly great.

“We may be a small country, but we're a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham's right foot. David Beckham's left foot, come to that.”

Whilst we can’t profess to be great at everything, there are some areas that we are brilliant in.

Our ability to compete as the world’s fifth largest economy, or our efforts in hosting the Olympics in 2012 are both fantastic demonstrations of that.

Two areas that we are global leaders in are financial services and technology – no one can question that the UK has evolved a unique FinTech ecosystem with some of the world’s largest banks and some of the leading technology companies calling the UK their home. Some of the most important financial and technology standards have been set in the UK, which explains why 42 per cent (£420m) of FinTech investments into Europe in 2014 were made in the UK and Ireland.

There are a number of aligned variables that position the UK perfectly to become the global leader in FinTech.

Our government’s measures to balance firm financial regulation with a willingness to understand innovations in the sector are ensuring that the UK remains a fertile ground for global FinTech businesses of all sizes.

The UK’s geographic position has also ensured a steady flow of talent, investment and business, as a centrally positioned financial services and technology hub between the East and West.

However, perhaps our biggest advantage comes from the already well-established financial services ecosystem, and one of the world’s most integrated payments ecosystems on the planet, underpinned by a government that is hugely supportive of business, innovation and growth.

The UK’s FinTech industry was worth £20bn in 2014 across payments, software, data analytics and platforms, according to a recent report.

This encouraging figure demonstrates our business and consumer affinity with progressive financial services technologies, and is largely the reason why the UK will be the second economy on the planet to launch Apple Pay this summer.

However, whilst all this is very encouraging there is much to do, and it is important to remember that we are only at one minute past midnight on the FinTech journey – the size of the global prize is enormous.

There are over seven billion phones on the planet and approximately only two billion bank accounts, highlighting a vast delta of opportunity for Britain’s FinTech companies to make an incredible impact across the world

Innovate Finance, the industry membership organisation, is meeting with the new parliament today as part of London’s Technology Week to remind them of the importance of being the best of British in certain things, and as the Chancellor said in his Mansion House speech last week, "with Britain leading the FinTech revolution".

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