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Doug Mackenzie

April 17, 2024

Innovate Finance Global Summit 2024: A Decade of Fintech Evolution and Looking Forwards

Heading to London’s historic Guildhall, you are always struck by the grandeur of the venue. The Guildhall is a cathedral-like cloister, tucked away within the City of London, itself a uniquely financially focused city within a city, reflecting the nation’s reverence for finance and heritage. 

The opening talks summarised this history perfectly, with Madush Gupta, Policy Lead Innovation & Technology, City of London Corporation taking the stage to set the scene for the rest of the day. He highlighted the change in financial tech from when the venue was created, to what was being used today. This broad history lesson was sharpened by Janine Hirt’s explosive keynote that underscored the work that had gone on over the last decade, for both Innovate Finance and the industry. The lightning fast pace didn’t stop there, as Hirt had the opportunity to welcome a video speech from the UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who underlined just how quickly this industry had become important to the nation.

 
UK’s Fintech Week

Even if The City of London’s coat of arms features dragons, the first morning was all about the Unicorns, with the opening panel ‘Generation Unicorn: CEO Perspectives On the Next Decade of Growth’. The panellists made up a ‘rat pack’ of the billion dollar club and it was fascinating hearing their perspectives on the UK and what the country needed to do to finally level up. Talent was front and centre with nervous admonitions of the 100 hour work week in Asia and ‘West Coast’ living with the huge capital offered in the United States; so how was the UK to keep up?

Especially considering we were fresh from hearing Bim Afolami MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Afolami was very keen to describe how the government is looking to continue their ‘laissez-faire’ style interaction with the fintech industry, allowing the innovators free reign to work within their loose frameworks and pathways. With a number of transformative task forces created surrounding the event, from the Unicorn Council for the UK, Project Nemo and a Crypto Regulatory Framework from the UK Government on its way, the event really was a capstone to UK Fintech Week. One of these elements is the newly established Task Force on Open Finance, chaired by the Centre for Finance, Innovation, and Technology (CFIT). This initiative is aimed at crafting a robust set of recommendations for opening up datasets—a move designed to unlock Open Finance, just like Open Banking transformed the UK a decade ago.

Project Nemo

A chance to dive deeper into those launches was just around the corner at the session: Work Beyond Barriers: Accessible, Inclusive, and Equitable Workplaces. A fireside chat of sorts with industry heavyweights Chris Skinner, author and Joanne Dewar, mentor, leader and the spearhead of Project Nemo. Project Nemo is going to be a comprehensive campaign, designed to provide a blueprint for any fintech decision makers to improve their disability inclusion.

There is a huge bottomline to it too, as Project Nemo highlights that “an estimated 16.0 million people in the UK had a disability in 2021/22, this represents 24% of the total population”. This is a huge market that is currently not being served by the fintech industry. Dewar was keen to point out that the fintech industry had typically been good at addressing DE&I shortfalls, for instance helping refugees gain access to finance. When it came to disabilities however, “The big tech organisations have been very successful – now it’s fintech’s time.”

“an estimated 16.0 million people in the UK had a disability in 2021/22, this represents 24% of the total population”.

They say you want a ‘Reg’olution?

The key theme throughout the two days of IFGS is how regulation, government and business are entwined. Peter Cunane, Director of International & National Initiatives, Innovate Finance described how important this approach was at IFGS as they “want to ensure that the fintech ecosystem, the regulatory ecosystem, the investment landscape remains competitive and that businesses can list in the UK and stay in the UK”.

IFGS want to ensure that the fintech ecosystem, the regulatory ecosystem, the investment landscape remains competitive and that businesses can list in the UK and stay in the UK”.

Day two kicked off with the session ‘It’s Gonna Be A Reg-olution: Does Banking Regulation Need An Overhaul?’ with a star studded lineup of exciting, scaling fintech banks that were demanding a re-evaluation or at least greater scrutiny of the upcoming regulations like Basel III. Focusing on capital requirements, liquidity and risk, this regulation was going to have a huge impact on midtier, non-traditional banks. Conrad Ford, Chief Product & Strategy Officer at Allica Bank declared “the regulators have been brilliant in helping banks start up, now it’s time to help them scaleup”. Cordelia Kafetz, Director of Financial Risk at Starling Bank agreed, wanting the “removal of the barriers stopping banks going from scaleup to systemic”. Valentina Kristensen, Director of Growth and Communications at OakNorth Bank summarised the situation perfectly stating that it felt like the industry was “going one step forward, two steps back”.

 

"the regulators have been brilliant in helping banks start up, now it's time to help them scaleup"

Moving from regulation back to politics, the talk – Data, Innovation, And Security: The UK Opportunity To Lead The World featured Lord Chris Holmes of Richmond, Strategic Advisor and Board Member at UKHOL, who proudly called Open Banking ‘a Great British Invention’ which certainly underpinned the gravity and responsibility that the British fintech industry has and would be grappling with.

Throughout IFGS the nervy topic of what would happen with a new party in power raised its head but it seemed that apart from the ‘Non Dom’ rules changing, it looked like whatever party was leading the government, they would look to share the same vision of a guideline led industry with little intervention. Richard Davies, CEO at Allica Bank said it didn’t need to be a political issue because “we are talking about optimising our talent, optimising our technologies, optimising our individuals, businesses, startups, scale ups, communities, our cities – our country. It would be unfortunate if these fell into the political space”.

 

“we are talking about optimising our talent, optimising our technologies, optimising our individuals, businesses, startups, scale ups, communities, our cities - our country. It would be unfortunate if these fell into the political space”.

– ENDS –

Even if The City of London’s coat of arms features dragons, the first morning was all about the Unicorns, with the opening panel ‘Generation Unicorn: CEO Perspectives On the Next Decade of Growth’. The panellists made up a ‘rat pack’ of the billion dollar club and it was fascinating hearing their perspectives on the UK and what the country needed to do to finally level up. Talent was front and centre with nervous admonitions of the 100 hour work week in Asia and ‘West Coast’ living with the huge capital offered in the United States; so how was the UK to keep up?

Especially considering we were fresh from hearing Bim Afolami MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Afolami was very keen to describe how the government is looking to continue their ‘laissez-faire’ style interaction with the fintech industry, allowing the innovators free reign to work within their loose frameworks and pathways. With a number of transformative task forces created surrounding the event, from the Unicorn Council for the UK, Project Nemo and a Crypto Regulatory Framework from the UK Government on its way, the event really was a capstone to UK Fintech Week. One of these elements is the newly established Task Force on Open Finance, chaired by the Centre for Finance, Innovation, and Technology (CFIT). This initiative is aimed at crafting a robust set of recommendations for opening up datasets—a move designed to unlock Open Finance, just like Open Banking transformed the UK a decade ago.

Project Nemo

A chance to dive deeper into those launches was just around the corner at the session: Work Beyond Barriers: Accessible, Inclusive, and Equitable Workplaces. A fireside chat of sorts with industry heavyweights Chris Skinner, author and Joanne Dewar, mentor, leader and the spearhead of Project Nemo. Project Nemo is going to be a comprehensive campaign, designed to provide a blueprint for any fintech decision makers to improve their disability inclusion.

There is a huge bottomline to it too, as Project Nemo highlights that “an estimated 16.0 million people in the UK had a disability in 2021/22, this represents 24% of the total population”. This is a huge market that is currently not being served by the fintech industry. Dewar was keen to point out that the fintech industry had typically been good at addressing DE&I shortfalls, for instance helping refugees gain access to finance. When it came to disabilities however, “The big tech organisations have been very successful – now it’s fintech’s time.”

“an estimated 16.0 million people in the UK had a disability in 2021/22, this represents 24% of the total population”.

They say you want a ‘Reg’olution?

The key theme throughout the two days of IFGS is how regulation, government and business are entwined. Peter Cunane, Director of International & National Initiatives, Innovate Finance described how important this approach was at IFGS as they “want to ensure that the fintech ecosystem, the regulatory ecosystem, the investment landscape remains competitive and that businesses can list in the UK and stay in the UK”.

IFGS want to ensure that the fintech ecosystem, the regulatory ecosystem, the investment landscape remains competitive and that businesses can list in the UK and stay in the UK”.

Day two kicked off with the session ‘It’s Gonna Be A Reg-olution: Does Banking Regulation Need An Overhaul?’ with a star studded lineup of exciting, scaling fintech banks that were demanding a re-evaluation or at least greater scrutiny of the upcoming regulations like Basel III. Focusing on capital requirements, liquidity and risk, this regulation was going to have a huge impact on midtier, non-traditional banks. Conrad Ford, Chief Product & Strategy Officer at Allica Bank declared “the regulators have been brilliant in helping banks start up, now it’s time to help them scaleup”. Cordelia Kafetz, Director of Financial Risk at Starling Bank agreed, wanting the “removal of the barriers stopping banks going from scaleup to systemic”. Valentina Kristensen, Director of Growth and Communications at OakNorth Bank summarised the situation perfectly stating that it felt like the industry was “going one step forward, two steps back”.

 

"the regulators have been brilliant in helping banks start up, now it's time to help them scaleup"

Moving from regulation back to politics, the talk – Data, Innovation, And Security: The UK Opportunity To Lead The World featured Lord Chris Holmes of Richmond, Strategic Advisor and Board Member at UKHOL, who proudly called Open Banking ‘a Great British Invention’ which certainly underpinned the gravity and responsibility that the British fintech industry has and would be grappling with.

Throughout IFGS the nervy topic of what would happen with a new party in power raised its head but it seemed that apart from the ‘Non Dom’ rules changing, it looked like whatever party was leading the government, they would look to share the same vision of a guideline led industry with little intervention. Richard Davies, CEO at Allica Bank said it didn’t need to be a political issue because “we are talking about optimising our talent, optimising our technologies, optimising our individuals, businesses, startups, scale ups, communities, our cities – our country. It would be unfortunate if these fell into the political space”.

 

“we are talking about optimising our talent, optimising our technologies, optimising our individuals, businesses, startups, scale ups, communities, our cities - our country. It would be unfortunate if these fell into the political space”.

– ENDS –