Fintech bonanza? A third of financial technology startups expect to IPO within five years

Lynsey Barber
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London has the opportunity to be a global centre for fintech floats (Source: Getty)

The UK's ambitious fintech startups are eyeing success on the public markets with a third of them planning an IPO in the next five years, new figures reveal.

Transferwise, Revolut and World Remit are among the country's innovative financial technology companies with long-term ambitions of going public, signalling the burgeoning industry's confidence.

"The level of ambition that these fintechs have is exciting. These entrepreneurs believe they are building businesses of a size that IPO," said global head of fintech at EY Imran Gulamhuseinwala.

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"They are building them as independent British businesses, not ones quickly being flipped into banks or big international fintechs. We'll see how that transpires, but that's a good starting point"

Of the 250 fintechs surveyed in fresh research from EY and Innovate Finance on behalf of HM Treasury measuring the health of the industry, more than half also said they expect revenue to more than double over the next 12 months. Collectively, they expect to raise more than £2.5bn in their next funding rounds, having already raised £3.5bn to date.

On average, UK fintechs have raised £15m, while revenue has grown 22 per cent in the two years to 2016.

"Though we have no immediate plans for an IPO, we anticipate taking the company public in the future," WorldRemit chief executive and co-founder Ismail Ahmed told City A.M.. "The additional oversight faced in the public market can be off-putting for some private companies, but as a heavily regulated business, it creates little additional burden."

Digital challenger bank Revolut told City A.M. it has an ambition to go public "later down the line", while co-founder of "unicorn" startup Transferwise Taavet Hinrikus said over the summer it was time to think seriously about becoming a public company "in a few years".

Jan Hammer, partner at Europe's biggest fintech venture investor Index Ventures, said: “We do expect to see an increasing activity in fintech, both on the funding and exit side.

"Europe has over the past few years created a number of large fintech businesses. They are generating significant revenues, many are profitable, have millions of customers around the globe and have reached a scale that will be attractive to public market investors.”

The fintech census was commissioned by the government to identify the key drivers in the industry and economic secretary to the treasury Stephen Barclay said the government is "committed to ensuring that the UK remains the best place in the world to start and grow a fintech business".

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And the UK could find itself at the heart of not only producing star fintechs, but their listings too.

"The IPO pipeline is building but theres a lot of uncertainty. They are not coming imminently but when they come they will come quite quickly. The sentiment is that UK based fintechs are open to listing in the UK," said Gulamhuseinwala.

"We don't have a global centre for fintech floats. There is an opportunity [for the UK] to become the centre for listed fintechs," he said.

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