Monday 20 April 2020 7:00 am

Coronavirus: The pragmatism and innovation of the City is on full show

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

The importance of technology to our everyday lives has become crystal clear over the last few weeks as we all adjust to staying and working from home to protect the NHS and save lives.

This transition has been remarkably swift with the pragmatism and innovation of City workers and businesses coming to the fore.

In the face of COVID-19, these two fundamentals of the Square Mile’s success are once again on show to the world, as the first ever digital UK Fintech Week kicks off online.

Led by Innovate Finance and supported by a raft of organisations including the City of London Corporation, UK Fintech Week brings together some of the leading names in finance and technology to celebrate the work of the sector and discuss challenges, opportunities and threats facing the industry virtually.

This year COVID-19 is of course at the heart of all discussions, and more than 25 online events have been organised to explore how fintechs can support the economy in these challenging times and play a role in the eventual recovery.

The City Corporation will this Thursday host a webinar in partnership with legal engineering firm Simmons Wavelength to discuss regulation and law for fintechs particularly in relation to the current pandemic. On the same day I myself will also be exploring opportunities for greater collaboration with Australia in fintech.

Even during these difficult times it is encouraging to see the UK fintech community demonstrating creativity and entrepreneurialism, and I’ve been delighted to see many firms small and large in the City pivot so quickly to provide new initiatives, projects and information to support measures for business and consumers.

The UK’s fintech sector continues to be a huge success story, employing more than 75,000 people nationwide and attracting a record amount of investment in 2019, with higher growth in total investment than both China and the US.

While I’m sure many firms will be finding the current situation tough, once we get through these dark days the sector will once again continue to drive forward innovation in financial services and enhance its role as a key growth engine for the UK economy. It is therefore vital that we continue to support the industry as best we can through events like Fintech Week.

The City Corporation has long been a champion for fintech, and we will be acting as secretariat to an independent strategic review of the sector that was announced by the Chancellor earlier this year. Given the level of maturity that the UK’s fintech sector is now reaching, it is only right that we start to think about how the industry can continue to be properly supported as it evolves. Alongside government and industry partners, we look forward to helping develop an even more thriving national fintech ecosystem that delivers greater access to capital, a strong talent pool, diverse regional clusters, enhanced international reach, a sophisticated regulatory framework and a resilient digital infrastructure.

When the times comes, fintech will play a critical role in speeding the recovery just as digital innovation is already helping us all in these tough times.

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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