Three crucial things the UK must do to keep its fintech crown - Eileen Burbidge, HM Treasury special envoy for fintech, ahead of Innovate Finance Global Summit

Eileen Burbidge
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The UK leads the way in fintech (Source: Getty)

As the UK continues to usher in the fourth industrial revolution by making enormous advances in technology and digital innovation, it’s fintech that shines as the brightest example of where we lead the world.

We’re fortunate to have the basic ingredients for a thriving fintech ecosystem - a position as a world financial capital, a broad and deep financial services expertise, best-in-class developers, a robust supply of investment and supportive regulators. In addition, the government’s willingness to engage with innovators to ensure resilience, innovation and competition is a key element in driving our fintech success story.

The UK is now the world’s leading fintech hub, however, other markets are evolving quickly and their regulators are modernising and borrowing the UK’s best practices. Now we must work even harder to retain pole position and we must think about future growth. Three areas are crucial - customer experience, financial inclusion and cyber security.

Early fintech firms focused on payments, remittances, lending and investing with the sole aim of improving and personalising customer experiences. They removed unnecessarily high fees and superfluous charges, making financial transactions faster and easier. This must continue as more complex financial products are introduced. We must ensure financial services become more relevant, engaging, accessible, user-friendly and secure.

As this improves, access to technology should also expand so more people benefit. There is now a range of innovation and greater distribution helping households, in and out of work, make more informed financial decisions. Fintech must also go further to help improve financial inclusion.

Along with this optimism, there is also the growing risk of fraudulent activity, scams, cyber attacks and breaches. But I see tremendous opportunity and believe fintech can continue to innovate and address these potential threats, developing much-needed solutions to reduce fraud and help identify system breaches more quickly.

Even while threats continue to evolve, the government has been diligent in fulfilling its duty to protect the country from these assaults with the National Cyber Security Strategy and National Cyber Security Centre. They are transforming how the UK deals with cyber security, bringing together expertise into a single agency and creating a go to place for industry support.

Fintech Week will begin with the Innovate Finance Global Summit, bringing together thousands of attendees from around the world. The government will then reveal the prototype of the new Pensions Dashboard, allowing people to see all their retirement savings in one place. Experts will gather for a 24 hour ‘TechSprint’ to develop potential applications to help consumers use it.

The main event is the government’s inaugural International Fintech Conference, taking place in London on 12 April. It will showcase the UK’s fintech sector to domestic and international investors to increase capital investment and consolidate our position as the global fintech capital. The chancellor, governor of the Bank of England and chairman of HSBC are just a few of the impressive names delivering keynotes. I look forward to welcoming attendees and investors from around the world who can see what the UK has to offer.

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