Anders la Cour, is the CEO and Co-founder of Banking Circle
Globally, FinTech is one of the fastest growing and exciting industries. The UK has always been a hub for startups and businesses in the space, driving competition in Europe and the rest of the world. But as the recent Kalifa report revealed, the UK is at risk of losing its leading position. This would be hugely disappointing to the industry and the country, which has always been proud of its trailblazing position in the financial world.
As a result of the pandemic, last year fintech funding was down compared to 2019, but COVID-19 also accelerated the focus on digitalisation, especially in the financial services sector, and this means there has never been a more important time to embrace innovation. As communities turned away from physical outlets and cash, they moved into other e-commerce spaces, leading to the flourishing of Payments businesses such as Stripe – a leading UK FinTech which was recently valued at a whopping £95 billion. The UK needs more of this innovation. Ultimately, Payments businesses and FinTechs are key to meeting the new and advancing demands of merchants who are servicing the increasingly savvy online customer. The UK government should capitalise on this as a matter of urgency.
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The Kalifa report sets out sensible recommendations, which as a growing employer in the FinTech space, we’d be excited to see in action. In particular, the recommendation to set up a training programme offering short courses to help workers learn essential tech skills will be important. It is something the rest of the world should also look to implement. As the saying goes: “if you want to go somewhere quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” True innovation is achieved by giving back and investing in upskilling, which builds the next generation of digital leaders and innovators.
Banking Circle is also keen to be involved with the proposed Centre for Innovation, Finance and Technology, contributing insight and intellect to ensure the UK does not fall behind in the FinTech arms race. We know that competition between FinTechs is fierce. If UK Payments companies are to stay ahead of the innovation curve, agility and staying ‘relevant’ will be key. This is achieved by understanding customers’ evolving needs and widening business offering. There are expectations for real-time and cross border payments, combined with offering a range of services from Virtual IBANs and multi-currency accounts through to foreign exchange. Partnering with a technology and payments specialist who has the technology stack, payments network and banking licence to take care of all back-office processes securely and compliantly, will enable FinTechs to keep up with this new fast-paced environment and continue to innovate.