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FinTech National Network Symposium Blog

By Joshua Townson on 28/10/19

A busy week for the Extinction Rebellion affirmed my decision in taking the four and a half hour train from London Euston to Glasgow at the start of the month for the first ever FinTech National Network Symposium. 

The setting – both Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre – definitely impressed, with stakeholders from across the country and sector arriving for a day of talks, panels, and networking.

The self-dubbed ‘Ant and Dec of FinTech’, Chris Sier, HM Treasury FinTech Envoy and Chair of FinTech North, and Stephen Ingledew, Chief Executive of FinTech Scotland, kicked off the event with an animated introduction to the purpose of the symposium – to shine a spotlight on FinTech across the UK and highlight the need for further collaboration. 

This is undoubtedly something Innovate Finance considers a priority. Raising awareness of regional clusters and the availability of talent, capital and wider support available to FinTechs wishing to scale or set-up outside of London is a key focus of the National FinTech Network. 

This message was amplified at the event by David Hillier and Eleanor Shaw from the University of Strathclyde – one of the first Universities to establish a dedicated FinTech course and FinTech accelerator. David highlighted the role of technology in bringing together regulators, government, academia and industry – all present in the audience – to support further growth and bring wider benefits to the UK economy. 

It was then time to hear from Scottish FinTechs (we were in Glasgow after all). Four companies: The ID Co (James Varga), Encompass (Alex Ford), Amiqus (Laura Bosworth) and Soar (Andrew Duncan) took to the stage to talk through their business models and unique experiences within the Scottish FinTech ecosystem. This was a great opportunity to hear the progress of our Innovate Finance members, The ID Co and Encompass, as well as learn about two new and innovative companies based in Scotland. 

Supportive and balanced regulation is a key part of encouraging innovation and the work that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has done around sandboxes has been instrumental in this. Innovate Finance has been and continues to be very supportive of the FCA Innovate team and their work in expanding the FinTech Sandbox to the global stage. FCA’s Steven McWhirter and Laura Navaratnam took to the stage to provide an update of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), echoing the need for further input from industry. If you, as a FinTech company, would like to input some feedback or further thoughts about GFIN do reach out to me and we can pass it on!

In the spirit of the national Symposium, we then moved onto an overview of the individual FinTech Hubs that make up the Network – FinTech Scotland, FinTech North, FinTech West, FinTech Wales, FinTech Northern Ireland and, of course, Innovate Finance. A key message to take away from each presentation was the need to continue a dialogue, and bring people together to form and share ideas for positive change in the sector. 

Moving forwards, Graham Hatton of Scottish Development International (SDI) outlined the work it is doing to bring investment into the UK and the ever-increasing interest from large financial institutions in setting up and working with Scotland-based FinTech companies. This event served as a great example of the need for a coordinated effort in showcasing and connecting the ecosystem – highlighted by a brief nod and introduction to FinTech Alliance’s digital marketplace. 

The final speaker, Kevin Telford, Advisor to ThoughtWorks and board advisor to Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCOE), used an illustrative description of his childhood to showcase the pace of digital change and the opportunities of a connected, data-rich life. The GOFCOE will be a world first, providing leadership, coordination, research and capability to support the rapidly expanding role of Open Banking and Finance. This is a very exciting initiative for the future global trends in financial services and beyond – I would recommend reading more about it! 

The final words before lunch came from an excellent panel focused on moving the rhetoric of diversity in FinTech into action. The panel featured Nicola Anderson of FinTech North, HM Treasury FinTech Envoy Louise Smith, Laura Bosworth of Amiqus and Elisabetta Trasatti, President of the University of Glasgow FinTech Society. This was a great discussion and a topic that is of great importance given the opportunity FinTech has in moving towards a more equal and diverse corporate structure.  

Before closing for lunch (tacos!), it was clear that the need and willingness to collaborate, rather than compete, will aid not just the progress of the sector, but the wider country. If you would like to discuss anything related to the FinTech National Network or Innovate Finance – please don’t hesitate to contact me on joshuatownson@innovatefinance.com