Expert View: Four Ways the UK can Keep its Fintech Crown

By Hirbod Assa

Financial technology is changing the finance world. Robo-advisors are replacing humans, traders are the computer algorithms, and money is encrypted not printed. The UK has long been the centre of exciting trends in this pioneering field, but is this all about to change? Here, KBS’s Professor Hirbod Assa gives his view on how the country can mitigate the risks of the changing digital landscape…

The UK has hit an ‘inflection’ point of opportunity and risk following the turbulence of Brexit, Covid-19 and surging competition from countries like Singapore, Australia and Canada who have all invested heavily in support for fintechs.

But all is not lost, here are four ways I believe the UK will keep its place at the top of the financial technology foodchain:

1)Training and upskilling

Recently, Ron Kalifa, the former Worldpay Group CEO, led an independent report on the UK strategic fintech review. The report highlighted the opportunities in this country to create highly skilled jobs. These new roles will boost trade, and extend the UK’s competitive edge.

The recommendations were followed by a proposal to create a Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT). This centre will help with the supply of domestic and international talent and the means to train and upskill workers.

2) Constant Innovation

The FCA recently announced plans to launch a ‘digital sandbox’. A sandbox is  an area which allows innovative firms to test and develop proofs of concept in digital business by giving access to high-quality data sets.

This sandbox will  accelerate innovative solutions particularly for small fintech businesses and let them grow.

3)Tech-ing things seriously

It is not surprising to see the main innovation in finance stems from Silicon Valley and not from financial capitals like London.

While all the major tech giants have a strong presence in the UK, keeping that work for the years coming after Brexit and COVID would be challenging and investment in training is a necessity.

Furthermore, fintech is largely dependent on innovative ideas, necessitating the support of tech start-ups. Proper investment is needed for a successful future.

4) Prioritising 

To keep its fintech crown, of course the UK needs to be competitive in all areas, as a leader and service provider. The UK does, however, need to become a major contributor in setting regulations and introducing supervisory measures in using new financial technologies.
On the other hand, the future is about financial inclusion and financial experience. More of banking and less of physical banks. Block-chain, as a priority subject, helps financial inclusion, and will be part of all financial activities.

Hirbod Assa is the course leader for Kent Business School’s brand new MSc in Financial Technology.  

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