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Chancellor and BofE governor bang the post-Brexit drum for UK fintech

12 April 2017  |  9257 views  |  0 UK flag

Phillip Hammond, the UK Chancellor, has highlighted the critical role played by fintech in helping the UK to mitigate any negative economic impact that may result from Brexit.

The comments were delivered at the International Fintech Conference held in London - an event put on by the UK Treasury to encourage greater investment in the sector from home and abroad.

"We will have to strive and graft and fight to seize the opportunities - and make the most of them. That means growing and strengthening the areas – like fintech – in which we enjoy a competitive advantage," said Hammond. 

London was recently ranked alongside Singapore as the top destination for fintech in a report by Deloitte but Hammond warned against complacency.

"We can’t remain the number one place for fintech and the other technologies of the fourth industrial revolution by simply relying on our ingenuity, talent and openness, we have to go out and get the business."

The UK is also planning to focus its fintech efforts on other major cities besides London. At another event this week, the Innovate Finance Global Summit 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority's director of strategy and competition Christopher Woolard cited the Edinburgh-Glasgow corridor and the Leeds/Manchester conurbation as places "where 'Fin' and 'Tech' collide".

But immigration will be central to the UK's efforts to retain the talent necessary to maintain its status as the international fintech hub of choice, a point that was not lost on the Chancellor. "We need to continue to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to these shores."

Hammond is generally seen as a proponent of higher immigration rates than his cabinet colleagues. Given the focus on the issue in the wake of Brexit, immigration controls could be as influential as the technology in deciding the UK's fintech ambitions. 

Back in November 2015, way before the shock Brexit referendum result, a consortium of start-up founders, including the heads of TransferWise and Nutmeg, warned then Prime Minister David Cameron that a clampdown on immigration could hamper the UK's digital economy and fintech industry. 

At the same conference today, Bank of England governor Mark Carney also went out of his way to talk up the promise of fintech and its potential to unbundle banking into its core functions.

"FinTech could deliver significant benefits to households and businesses across this country and across the world. FinTech can widen access to financial services and bring new sources of credit. It can connect customers better with their finances and empower them more in the process. And new technologies can deliver faster service, greater choice and keener pricing," concluded the governor.

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