Kalifa Review of UK FinTech a Major Boost for Northern Ireland

The Kalifa Report, a Treasury-commissioned independent review of the UK’s financial technology (fintech) industry, published today, outlines a series of measures to support further growth in the sector, which may provide a major boost for Northern Ireland’s burgeoning FinTech sector. 

Most notably, the report identifies Northern Ireland as one of 10 clusters in the UK that is producing high growth fintechs (c10% of firms going on to achieve high-growth status) and is a region that has the most potential to grow and develop further.

The 10 clusters are:

  1. London 
  2. The Pennines, covering Manchester and Leeds 
  3. Scotland (especially the Edinburgh / Glasgow corridor) 
  4. Birmingham 
  5. Bristol & Bath 
  6. Newcastle & Durham 
  7. Cambridge 
  8. Reading & West of London 
  9. Wales (especially Cardiff & South Wales) 
  10. Northern Ireland

The Kalifa Report also highlights that, if the UK is to remain a pioneer of financial technology, greater investment into the development of industry related talent is required, proposing plans for low-cost, intensive courses to equip workers with digital skills, as well as a new visa offering to attract skilled professionals from other countries. While Northern Ireland already boasts the highest concentration of FinTech talent in the UK and a mature education system, with dedicated FinTech courses, wider access to training will aid in filling the shortfall in specific and emerging tech skills.

Alex Lee, Chairman at FinTechNI, comments, “The findings outlined in the Kalifa Review are welcomed by FinTechNI and its members. We are delighted to see Northern Ireland identified as one of the top 10 Fintech clusters in the UK, and the strategy outlined in the review represents a major opportunity for Northern Ireland to further build its reputation as a global FinTech hub. Through our participation in the Fintech National Network we look forward to continuing our collaboration with the other UK Fintech clusters. We also look forward to working with the newly created Centre for

Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) on the implementation of the review findings for the benefit and advancement of our member fintech firms in Northern Ireland.” 

Andrew Jenkins, Northern Ireland FinTech Envoy, comments, “I very much welcome the Kalifa Review recommendations. I believe they can help shape the future of Fintech right across the UK and serve as a catalyst to further enhance Northern Ireland’s Fintech reputation on a global stage. 

“Throughout the review process I ensured the voice of Northern Ireland’s Fintech sector was heard and believe the report supports the levelling up agenda for regional investment and innovation. Recent years have seen Belfast established as an attractive international investment center that punches well above its weight due to talent excellence, a cost-effective infrastructure and strong network of academic partnerships. The review brings an opportunity to leverage these assets and ensure greater connectivity across the UK. It is a welcome commitment to training and upskilling our workforce and futureproofing Fintech talent for years to come.”

A letter written jointly by the FinTech National Network, of which FinTechNI is a participant, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, states: “We write to collectively express our support for the development of FinTech across the UK, and to request that the outcomes of the current UK FinTech Review, led by Ron Kalifa, include specific measures to develop FinTech in the regional economies outside London in line with the ‘levelling up’ aspirations.”

“We hope that our letter to the Chancellor underscores the opportunity to further develop the regional FinTech clusters in the UK and we look forward to the governments response to the review in due course,” adds Lee.