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West Midlands has big fintech opportunity

West Midlands has big fintech opportunity

The West Midlands has the potential to become a major UK fintech hub if it takes an integrated approach to maximising its advantages, according to a report.

While London dominates the UK fintech scene, other parts of the country - including Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh - have successfully built up their own clusters.

With a population of 4.5 million, nine universities and an established financial services industry, the West Midlands is looking to jump aboard the fintech train.

The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has commissioned a report from Whitecap Consulting into the sector that offers a roadmap to building up a fintech presence.

The report finds more than 7625 financial services and tech-sector firms active in the region, and over 120 businesses already active in the fintech ecosystem. The sector is delivering an estimated gross value added (GVA) of £411.7 million per annum, or 6.2% of total UK fintech GVA.

The region has a number of advantages that can help it improve these numbers, says the report, including its large pool of university graduates and proximity to London.

The fintech ecosystem could also get a boost from the news that HSBC has chosen the region as home to its UK retail bank. This is complemented by the move last year from the Investment Association to establish a fintech hub, called the Engine Room, at Wesleyan in Birmingham.

To build on this, the report suggests appointing a fintech envoy to the Treasury, pioneering a fintech development programme, and establishing a representative cluster body.

Tim Pile, chair, GBSLEP, says: "The building blocks for a thriving fintech ecosystem are already embedded in our region, with a strong and well-established history in Financial Services, a youthful, diverse and expanding workforce, and a host of incubators and innovation centres.

"There is enormous potential to support more fintech start-ups and scale-ups here in the West Midlands."

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