Open Letter from FinTech CEOs and Founders from Innovate Finance’s Membership Community
Kalifa Review One Year On: Strong Progress, Opportunity for More
On 26 February 2021, Ron Kalifa published his independent review of UK FinTech, commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Innovate Finance and the City of London served as the co-secretariat for this report. The Kalifa Review identified the opportunity for Britain to build on our success as a leading global centre for FinTech, which will in turn:
- foster job creation and high income tech-based employment across the UK, supporting the ‘levelling up’ agenda
- better leverage the FinTech sector as a core asset for Britain’s international competitiveness, by enabling more UK FinTechs to achieve global scale and reach, and lead on regulation and standard-setting
- help citizens and small businesses access more, better and cheaper financial services, creating a more inclusive, democratic and sustainable financial services sector
The Kalifa Review provided a clear strategy and a helpful roadmap set out across five chapters - policy & regulation; skills; investment; international; and national connectivity - to ensure the UK strengthens its support of the FinTech ecosystem and maintains its position as one of the best places in the world to start, build and scale a FinTech.
The Innovate Finance membership community - and in particular the founders and CEOs of FinTechs based across the UK as listed below - have been pleased to see action taken to implement a majority of the Kalifa Review’s recommendations by UK Government, regulators and industry, including:
-Government has committed its support to a new industry-led Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT), which will help catalyse development of much-needed solutions to critical challenges facing the sector such as open banking, digital ID, and finance for small firms through the creation of key coalitions. Work is underway, led by the City of London, to have CFIT up and running this year.
-On policy and regulation, the Bank of England has commenced work on a Central Bank Digital Currency; the FCA has set up a scalebox to support FinTechs as they grow and, with the City of London, have supported the development of Net Zero FinTech solutions through its digital sandbox; and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has progressed the introduction of Digital ID, together with industry-led task forces. FinTech has also been recognised in new trade agreements with Australia and Singapore.
-On skills, at IFGS 2021 the Chancellor announced plans to implement a scale up visa, and, after a series of feedback consultations with Innovate Finance members and the broader industry, we eagerly await its introduction in April. The Department of Education also held sessions with industry to better understand how the FinTech sector uses current government skills initiatives, such as apprenticeships, and what more is needed.
-On investment, the Government and regulators have made good progress in overhauling the UK listings regime to make it more attractive to companies from around the world, with the creation of a “golden share” for founders and a reduction in the minimum free float requirement. In the Budget the Chancellor also confirmed that R&D tax credits for innovation will be extended to data and cloud computing (boosting investment in FinTech such as AI, open banking and SaaS) and allocated £160 million for the British Business Bank to co-invest with regional business angels, helping to address the early growth funding gap.
-On international, the Department for International Trade announced a package of export support for the FinTech industry to boost trade, jobs and economic growth, including the FinTech Export Academy and FinTech Champions Scheme. Innovate Finance is also convening industry partners and businesses to work with DIT, to ensure our FinTech export and promotional efforts are greater than the sum of their parts.
-On national connectivity, CFIT will serve to convene and support our FinTech hubs across the UK. The Review also spurred a number of short and long-term FinTech strategies across UK regions.
Continuing to Build Momentum
It is clear that the above marks good progress made by the government, regulators, and industry. But rather than resting on our laurels, it is imperative that we continue to build on this momentum and work together to establish an environment in the UK that is even more supportive of and conducive to innovation in financial services.
The regulatory rule book requires further updating, and regulators must have the capability and culture in place to allow them to fully embrace innovation while protecting the consumer and financial stability. The Future Regulatory Framework has identified international competitiveness as a secondary objective for the FCA and PRA - we believe it is critical that this is adhered to, and along with the scalebox approach, applied to all regulators. In addition, we should seize on the opportunities afforded to us from leaving the EU. Regulators should take this opportunity to build a more proportionate regulatory and capital requirements regime for scaling and challenger banks.
The Kalifa review also recommended the introduction of a full UK crypto regulatory regime to strengthen Britain's global position; to extend open banking to new areas; and to support the scaling of RegTech solutions. Across the multi-varied and fast-developing world of crypto and defi, we need to work together to create a clear UK strategy for growing global opportunities as well as managing risk. We also need a vision for how the UK can be the centre for the next stepchange in data and AI solutions.
Furthermore, we must continue to better address the growth capital gap here in the UK. As part of this, we must work to shift the mindset of institutional investors in the UK to take a longer-term view and focus on growth opportunities here in Britain. We can also all do more to celebrate UK FinTech businesses, promote the benefits of investment and continue to support the world-leading ecosystem we’ve built over the past decade.
In addition, there is an opportunity for regulators and industry to further encourage larger UK institutions to invest more in advanced technology.
There is also an opportunity to further nurture the high growth potential of the top 10 FinTech clusters across the UK, and accelerate the development and growth of FinTech clusters through further investment, such as in R&D.
And critically, we must continue to drive forward the timely delivery of CFIT. It can be a catalyst to address the key challenges facing the sector, and we are keen to see it up and running this year.
Realising the Kalifa Vision
In light of the successes outlined above, it is now more important than ever that we - industry, government, and the regulators - do not pause, but rather build on this current momentum and commit to cement the UK’s position as the best location in the world to start, build and scale a FinTech business.
FinTech is making a positive impact on the UK economy and society. New market entrants are challenging the status quo by providing consumers and small businesses with alternatives to the incumbent financial services providers, encouraging all financial services players to provide a better experience for the consumer. Many FinTech companies are also supporting demographics that have traditionally been underserved by the sector, including providing SMEs finance for growth and unlocking opportunities for consumers to build their wealth through savings, pensions and investments in a much cheaper and more transparent way.
The pandemic has increased the adoption of digital finance and placed a renewed focus on the critical role that technology and innovation must play if we are to make financial services work for all. Now is the time for even bolder action to realise the Kalifa Review vision: to work together to maintain the UK’s coveted position as the leading hub for FinTech, creating solutions that strengthen our economy, foster greater financial inclusion and wellness, tackle climate change and build a more sustainable financial services sector for all.
CEO, Innovate Finance
Co-Founder and CEO, Algbra
CEO, Atom Bank
CEO, B4B Payments
Founder & CEO, Bankable
CEO, CB Investment Growth Holdings
CEO & Founder, Checkout.com
Group Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director, ClearBank
CEO & Founder, Clim8 Invest
Founder & CEO, ComplyAdvantage
CEO, Currency Cloud
Founder & CEO, Curve
Managing Director, UK and Ireland, Dacxi
Lewis Z. Liu
Co-Founder & CEO, Eigen Technologies
CEO & Co-Founder, Encompass
CEO, Funding Circle
Head of Gemini UK, Gemini
CEO, Global Processing Services
Co-founder & COO, gohenry
CEO, Husky Finance
CEO & Co-Founder, iwoca
Head of Klarna UK, Klarna
CEO, Liberis Group
CEO & Co-Founder, Minna Technologies
Co-founder and CEO, Molo Finance
CEO, Monzo Bank
Rishi Khosla, OBE
CEO and Co-Founder, OakNorth
Interim UK CEO, OpenPay
Head of UK, Plaid
CEO, Point Group
Co-Founder & CEO, Primary Bid
CEO, Profile Pensions
CEO, QV Systems
Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Seedrs
CEO, Smart Pension
Co-CEO and Founder, Sonovate
CEO, Sprk Capital
CEO, Starling Bank
CEO & Co-Founder, StormPay
CEO and Founder, Thought Machine
CEO & Founder, Torus
Group CEO, Trust Payments
VP Global Growth, Wise
CEO, Wonderful Payments
UK Head, Tink
CEO & Founder, Yapily