As people back home enjoy what we hope is an Indian summer, I am heading to the subcontinent this week for a five-day visit to Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai – just as monsoon season draws to a close.
The political weather in the UK may be stormy, but when the dust settles, one thing is certain: the long-term future for both India and Britain is bright.
I’m no stranger to these cities, nor to this country, having travelled extensively to India over the last two decades. This week, I am here at the helm of a delegation of top-notch UK companies to promote further innovative cooperation in fintech.
This is a sector that is expanding rapidly in India, growing by more than 20 per cent annually. The country now boasts over 20,000 startups, nearly 3,000 alone in fintech, including companies like Paytm with more than 200m users, insurance aggregator Policybazaar, and challenger bank TMWpay, which recently announced that it would be launching in the UK.
This growth has been fuelled by many factors, including high adoption rates among the Indian public, and strong support from regulators like the Reserve Bank of India, which last month launched a regulatory sandbox framework based on the Financial Conduct Authority’s pioneering model.
It is this mix of innovation and success that forms the backdrop to my visit. I’ve brought with me a mix of companies all at different stages in their Indian journeys – including the likes Aon, Revolut, Transferwise, and Assetvault.
Together, we will meet government and business leaders to explore how the UK and India can work further together for the benefit of both countries in financial and professional services.
But we are also here to lay down a challenge of sorts.
I believe that London, and more broadly the UK, can be a key knowledge partner for India in its fintech journey. I also recognise that we are in a strong position to help India access the innovation taking place in our country.
To this extent, during our visit I’ll be offering to help find solutions for Indian businesses, leveraging the expertise of UK fintechs to solve outstanding issues and plug gaps in know-how.
India is an important partner for the City, and we are home to more than 15 Indian financial services firms, including the State Bank of India and GIC, as well as the world’s largest market for Rupee-denominated Masala bonds.
The City of London Corporation has a longstanding programme of work in India, opening an office in Mumbai over 12 years ago. We work with the UK government and the Indian High Commission in London in various areas, including fintech, helping Indian and UK firms enter each other’s markets.
The announcement last week that international students will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to find a job was an important signal that we remain open to the world’s best talent.
Whatever happens with Brexit after 31 October, the City’s future will continue to be determined by the strength of our international ties, particularly with important economies like India. It is vital we don’t forget this, come rain or shine.
Main image credit: Getty