UK fintech pushes for its very own “Big Bang” moment

 
Lynsey Barber
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UK fintech startups are meeting with the government this week (Source: Getty)

The UK’s world leading fintech industry will this week meet with top government officials seeking to spark another “Big Bang” moment, the first of which kicked off the making of the City as a global financial powerhouse.

Leaders in the industry will head to Westminster where several meetings with treasury and trade officials are on the table. They will seek to make the case for fintech and urge continued support from government after the Brexit vote and ahead of the Autumn Statement.

The meetings will path the way for a more ambitious plan to create a “fintech Big Bang” with a roadmap for the fast-growing industry, to be published early next year ahead of Article 50 being triggered, the official firing gun on Britain leaving the EU.

Read more: Former Barclays boss Antony Jenkins has launched a fintech business

A working group of global and UK fintech experts, including those from startups to large institutions, led by fintech body Innovate Finance, will work on creating a roadmap for the industry, regardless of whether Brexit is so-called soft or hard, with the aim of sparking a “fintech Big Bang”

"Fintech solutions in payments, capital markets, blockchain and regtech are transforming the capital markets landscape, the UK is poised for a 'digital big bang' in financial services, and London is at the heart of it,” said Innovate Finance chief executive Lawrence Wintermeyer.

Members of the group include fintech stars such as Crowdcube, Transferwise and Ratesetter, while institutions - which make up around one fifth of its members - include Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Santander and EY

City Minister Simon Kirby, with whom the fintech leaders will meet, made positive signals towards the industry last week, announcing that the Treasury will hold its first ever annual fintech conference, connecting startups and investors, and promising to make Britain’s exit from the EU “a success for the fintech industry too”.

“The UK was already a leading financial centre and the Big Bang accelerated that momentum,” said Ratesetter head of policy John Battersby, who will be attending the treasury roundtable.

“We’re in a not dissimilar industry and if something can be found to promote the fintech sector, that can be a catalyst, it’s important to the [finance] landscape in the future,” he said, adding that the catalyst is unlikely to be deregulation as in the 80s.

“There’s an opportunity here, with the new normal for interest rates, savers and access to finance. The question for the Autumn Statement and beyond is what that looks like from a policy point of view and the direction of travel.”

Top of fintech’s post-Brexit Autumn Statement wish list is ensuring continued access to capital and liquidity for startups; access to talent and skills; ensuring access to the EU Single Market, including passporting rights, for financial firms; as well as factoring in the industry within the new industrial strategy and continued support for high-level fintech initiatives such as open banking.

Read more: Former Barclays boss Antony Jenkins has launched a fintech business

A meeting with the treasury on Tuesday will focus on fintech domestically, including areas such as p2p lending and challenger banks, while a second on Wednesday will focus on areas with more international relevance such as payments and FX.

The group will also meet with trade minister Mark Garnier, who has said that passporting is unlikely to exist in its current form after Brexit.

The week of meetings - the first significant engagement with the industry directly since the EU referendum - follows talks between government and the broader UK tech sector, which have ramped up in recent weeks as Brexit plans become a little clearer several months on from the vote.

"The UK has been successful in setting the agenda for FinTech globally, driven by progressive policy decisions to support competition and innovation in financial services," said Innovate Finance's head of policy and regulation Dan Morgan.

"Following the referendum result, and in order to maintain the UK's position as a world leading fintech hub, the UK government needs to be bold in its vision for fintech to help drive investment and attract talent and capital.

30 years on from the 'Big Bang' in the City of London, the UK needs to again revolutionise financial services. But to do this it is essential to maintain an open trading relationship with the EU and indeed the rest of the world."

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