Financial innovation hubs will be established in cities across the UK and placements on offer at leading fintech firms to students at leading universities as part of government-backed plans.
The plans are part of a push to encourage financial innovation which will be co-ordinated through a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT). One of its other roles will be to work with the government, regulators and the Bank of England on improving rulemaking in the sector.
City minister Andrew Griffith said the initiative would further government ambitions to improve productivity by improving skills, and make the UK “a technology and science superpower”. It would fit within the “framework of pursuing growth in the [financial services] sector, a really important sector for growth in the UK economy,” he added.
Charlotte Crosswell, the new chair of CFIT and former chair of the Open Banking Implementation Entity, said the centre would also work on plans for a fintech growth fund, pointing to the “huge opportunity for [UK] pension funds to be investing small amounts into some of these growth areas”.
The centre was a proposal of the Khalifa Review into fintech in 2021, which warned that a “digital big bang” was necessary for the UK to remain competitive in the sector.
The government will provide £5mn in seed funding, with an additional £500,000 from the City of London Corporation, the governing authority for the capital’s financial centre.
CFIT’s roles will include creating cross-sector “coalitions” including from finance, technology and academia to try to address the barriers that are impeding growth.
The centre will announce plans on Tuesday to establish “financial innovation hubs” in cities across Britain, including Leeds, Manchester and Bristol in England, and others in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and co-ordinate their work.
It will also offer student placements at some of the UK’s top companies in the financial services sector, in partnership with leading universities including members of the Russell Group.
“We’re in a global race for talent,” said Crosswell. “We want to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs and we want to make sure that is being done across the UK.”
Despite a number of successful UK fintech start-ups, the lure of more liquid capital markets around the globe and regulatory uncertainty following Brexit has limited the number of public listings in London.
“We often do go overseas [for investment], which is a testament to the strength of the sector,” said Crosswell. “That means that there was always a risk of IPOs moving away.”
The UK attracted $12.5bn in fintech investment in 2022 through 545 fundraising deals. But late stage fintech companies have struggled over the past year, as rising inflation has led investors to focus on a path to short-term profitability.
Checkout.com, a UK-based company which was valued at $40bn by investors at the start of 2022, slashed its internal valuation in December to $11bn.
Ezechi Britton, CEO of CFIT and fintech entrepreneur, said: “As a founder myself, I know that the UK is the best place to scale up for a fintech company. But we can’t rest on our laurels. Given the wealth of talent and innovative ideas in the sector, it is absolutely essential that we provide the right environment for our fintech sector to thrive and reach its full potential.”