UK fintech industry bands together to push innovation agenda

UK fintech industry bands together to push innovation agenda

An industry body promising to be the 'voice of UK fintech' launched today, with more than 50 founding members onboard and the backing of government.

According to Accenture, global fintech investment tripled between 2008 and 2013 from $928 million to $2.97 billion and is expected to double again to between $6 billion and $8 billion by 2018.

Innovate Finance aims to make the UK the centre of this rapidly growing market, corralling the burgeoning but diverse British fintech scene, bringing together startups and big banks under one umbrella to promote the industry's interests and foster collaboration.

The body says that it will champion the UK as the centre of financial services and technology innovation and provide a single point of access to clients, technologies, talent, finance and international marketplaces. It will also carry out research and hold rountables, workshops and events as well as work with the Open University to create fintech-based courses.

Established players such as Lloyds, HSBC and Visa are signed up alongside startups from the worlds of remittances, cryptocurrencies and P2P lending. The City of London Corporation is committed as lead sponsor, while the Canary Wharf Group is providing funding and office and events space.

At a launch event in London today, Chancellor George Osborne gave his backing to the initiative and promised to put the government's weight behind efforts to promote the UK as a global fintech leader.

Alastair Lukies, founder of mobile money firm Monitise and Innovate Finance non-exec chairman says that bringing together big banks with smaller fintech firms is a key aim of the new body, arguing that real, scalable innovation requires cooperation between the two sides.

Another key objective will be to help shape UK regulation. Next April the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) will come into force, ending a self-regulatory system that concentrated power in the hands of the big banks. Lukies says that how Innovate Finance helps to ensure that the new watchdog promotes innovation and competition will be one of the key tests of the new venture's success.

Claire Cockerton, deputy head at Canary Wharf's tech accelerator space Level39, has been named CEO of Innovate Finance, which was born out of a report into fintech that she helped write for the government. Despite her close association with Level39, Cockerton says that there is no official connection between the two bodies, stressing that Innovate Finance will work with all industry players and across the UK.

"While London and the UK provide the right talent, expertise, and market conditions, we believe our collective entrepreneurial spirit will lead us to compete and prosper on a global stage," she says.

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