Catching a train or a bus first thing in the morning is something many of us do automatically. And thanks to the advent of contactless payments, the process of completing such early morning transactions is now just as automatic.
We have the bright minds of the fintech sector to thank for this. First introduced in Britain in 2007, contactless payments are now offered by nearly every high street bank and building society.
Fintech hasn’t stopped growing at home or abroad since, with hundreds of millions of people worldwide entering the digital financial market every year.
We know that fintech has the potential to change the way we live and do business: making it easier to pay for public transport on the way to work in the morning; enabling us to access banking services in the palm of our hands; encouraging us to make more informed choices when managing our finances. The opportunities are inspiring.
And in this country we are at the forefront of this technology, with British firms leading the way.
This is down to the UK’s innovation and entrepreneurship, London’s existing strengths as a financial centre, and supportive policy-making from government and regulators.
Taken together it means we are able to say that Britain is the best place in the world to start and grow a fintech firm and I am delighted that this week we were able to celebrate our success as part of Fintech Week 2017. The last four days have brought together firms, investors, consumer groups, regulators and government to discuss what the future holds for this exciting and innovative industry.
As a Treasury minister, my message at Fintech Week was clear: the government will continue to do all it can to help the UK’s fintech sector and sectors like it to grow, because this is the best way to drive the highly-skilled, highly-productive economy that we want for ourselves and the next generation.
Our burgeoning fintech sector now employs more than 60,000 people in this country and generates billions of pounds every year for the economy. But as the chancellor told over 100 of the UK’s most exciting fintech firms and hundreds of investors from around the globe at yesterday’s International Fintech Conference in London, we must not rest on our laurels.
To remain number one, Britain cannot simply rely on our ingenuity, talent and openness – we have to go out, be proactive, remind the world how we got here and tell them where we are going.
As we prepare for Brexit and forge a bold new role for ourselves in the world, we must focus on building a global Britain where we can take our talent and ideas to the world like never before and seize the enormous opportunities ahead. A thriving fintech sector will help to drive prosperity and opportunity up and down the country. I am ambitious for its future, and the government will not stop championing fintech and supporting its growth.
First, I want Britain to continue to foster even more fintech startups. Barclays’s plan to launch the largest fintech co-working site in Europe here in London is a welcome part of this. The accelerator will host over 500 people working across 50 fintech startups here.
Second, the government will make Britain a great place to invest, so firms can attract the financing they need to innovate and expand.
Third, we will continue to help fintech companies to look outwards and be ambitious in accessing new markets. Over the last 18 months, we have already made it easier for UK fintech firms to expand into Singapore, the Republic of Korea and China with a series of fintech bridges and we are now working with India to foster even closer links.
Finally, we will continue to nurture and develop the home-grown talent that will drive our economy forwards in the future, as well as continuing to attract the brightest and best from around the world.
We are clear that our plan for Britain will help the UK make the most of the opportunities ahead. We will continue to champion our most successful industries and bring together the best of British expertise with potential international investors just like we have this week. Working together we will make sure the UK remains the world’s greatest fintech hub.