Davos 2016: Why London fintech can transform the 21st century

Lawrence Wintermeyer
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The New Year Is Celebrated In London With A Firework Display
London's fintech is at the Davos top table (Source: Getty)

In recent years, there has been cynicism about the objectives of the World Economic Forum annual meeting at Davos, with reports of parties, private jets and closed-door discussions. However, the core purpose of the forum should not be dismissed in an era of global upheaval, tensions and economic uncertainty for billions across the developed and developing world.

This is an important gathering of the world’s political, business, academic and philanthropic leadership – and they have power to make changes to the world’s most pressing issues. But power is useless if you don’t understand at a grassroots level how new ideas and innovations can help communities address three of the key themes at Davos this year: financial inequality, migration and market turmoil.

Innovate Finance is at this event to showcase how financial technology can address these major issues and transform the 21st century.

As a membership organisation that represent London’s global fintech sector, we bring together grassroot pioneers and major institutions to address the changes needed to create a sustainable future for financial services – one that offers greater market stability and financial inclusion.

From our experience, we know that meaningful change can happen by supporting the fintech innovations that have answer to and are already starting to reach the unbanked in the both the developed and developing world, as well as the millions of migrants that are displaced due to war and economic upheaval. What they need is a little help from those sitting at the top table – government and investors.

The World Economic Forum shares our view that technology offers many answers. Its key themes this year are framed around the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ narrative- which underlines the potential transformative impact of technology through the fusing of physical, digital and biological spheres in the 21st century.

Increasingly, we are exposed to this fusion through our smartphones and wearables whether we “tap and go” with mobile payments, order an “Uber”, or count the number of “steps” we have taken today. The media technology narrative regularly brings to our attention the potential impact of the internet of things, self-driving cars, virtual reality, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and a range of emerging technologies that are set to change our future for the good, as well as raising issues relating to the impact on labour markets and economic growth.

So, what is fintech’s role in all of this?

In an increasingly global and interconnected world, the story of the rise of fintech is linked to the story of social and economic development. Our presence in Davos presents a privileged opportunity to introduce the fintech community to visionaries looking to shape the century for the better, by providing real and innovative solutions reflected in the body of our membership and community.

With an estimated 2.5 billion people in the world outside of the traditional banking and financial system, fintech has the potential to reach people who cannot access the global economy. fintech products and apps are already making an impact in countries which have previously been hindered by limited access to finance and the proliferation of informal economies.

Our members are innovatively disrupting traditional systems and are actively working to solve issues relating to financial inclusion, payments and remittance, funding, financial risk, insurance, and savings and investment, and helping to rebuild public trust in the financial system. This is a pressing issue not only in the developing world but also in the West where a new generation of consumers is open to alternative solutions for traditional financial transactions and needs.

An increasing number of global fintech players are ready to join the top table discussions including Bankable, BitFury, Coinsillium, DueDil, Iwoca, LendInvest, MoneyFarm, Nutmeg, OnDeck, RateSetter, Seedrs, Symphony, SyndicateRoom, TransferGo, Yoyo Wallet. These companies will join Innovate Finance at Davos and I know, will make history at the inaugural fintech launch by creating an indelible impression on the global leadership of the innovate solutions they are delivering to change the world for the better.

Since our inception in 2014, Innovate Finance has aimed to build an open, inclusive and secular global fintech community and to be the single access point for start-ups, unicorns, institutions, regulators, politicians, capital providers, professional services, philanthropists and academics – The UK has the blueprint for the best fintech ecosystem in the world. Our presence at Davos demonstrates the impact fintech has recently had and the optimism surrounding the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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