Nicola Anderson, CEO of Fintech Scotland, discussed the developments at the organisation and future developments in the Scottish fintech sector.
FinTech Scotland is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2018 with 26 fintechs, and has grown to accommodate 224 fintechs in their community. Anderson expresses excitement on the progression, commercialisation, and investment that is booming in Scotland’s financial services and fintech sector.
Anderson draws similarities to the challenges faced by the Scottish fintech community to fintechs in the UK: “The priorities are skills, access to talent, investment, and a commercialisation route to market. The majority of fintech entrepreneurs in Scotland are developing B2B or B2B2C propositions, and so it's important that they have an opportunity to work with the large financial institutions as they develop their products.”
FinTech Scotland is working on a number of initiatives to bolster innovation and growth in the industry, such as their Innovation Challenges, which are collaborations with other organisations to attract entrepreneurs to pitch solutions, two of which are currently live in the market. In 2022, one Innovation Challenge in association with Lloyds Banking Group attracted 85 applications from 31 countries, and they more than doubled that statistic with 210 applications received this year.
Working with colleges, schools, and universities, FinTech Scotland is focused on developing new talent and generating interest in the industry. Anderson explains:
“There is an immediate need to place and develop talent and skills, and that takes us to universities and colleges to develop talent placement approaches that fit with their current programmes. Also, thinking about the longer term need takes us to fintech for schools; working with secondary schools across Scotland, thinking about building curiosity and students to consider fintech as a career, helping students understand what fintech means, the breadth of fintech, and driving connection between schools and the fintech businesses.”
Anderson states that the organisation is currently laying down foundations for the future of R&D across the industry, with actions to be built upon over the next year. She refers to the FinTech Research and Innovation Roadmap that was published in 2022, which outlined the agenda for new initiatives and focus areas for the future of fintech in Scotland, stating that there has been growth and development in all four key areas: climate finance, open finance data, payments and transactions, and financial regulation.
“If I take you to the financial regulation priority, we are working at the moment to establish a financial regulation Innovation Lab, helped by the UK government’s recent innovation accelerator, funding support across three regions of the UK, Glasgow, Manchester, and the West Midlands.”
Anderson continues that there has been successful collaborations between FinTech Scotland and other international organisations. She notes work with FinTech Northern Ireland and FinTech Wales has been flourishing, and that FinTech Scotland, Fintech North, and Innovate Finance established the Fintech National Network in 2018. There has been ongoing communication between the regions to support each other and continue to foster innovation.
On future trends in the Scottish fintech industry, Anderson remarks that they are seeing developments similar to those in the UK sector, with a sharp focus on open finance, data driven innovation, climate finance, and the evolution of digital assets. She notes that the depth of expertise and data driven innovation in Scottish cities, such as Edinburgh, place them in an excellent position for new opportunities.
Commenting on innovations in the climate sector, Anderson states: “There's significant investment going into the UK, in Scotland and in the southwest of England, into space innovation, including space data, the capability of satellites to capture data, which will have a potential role to play in helping build better insights to help address the climate agenda. So there's a really nice connection in climate finance between space innovation, satellite capture data and earth observational data, and the role that fintech can play, as we build better insights and find solutions and different ways to advance that climate problem.”