Speech

We’re going to keep making FinTech a great British success story

"Britain is ahead of the pack when it comes to leading the way forward in world FinTech...", says City Minister, Simon Kirby.

Simon Kirby

Thank you very much David.

And I’d also like to thank Claire Taylor for the enormous efforts that she must have put in to pull off such a fantastic expo.

For me, as the new City Minister at the Treasury, getting up to speed with the incredible FinTech sector we have here in the UK has been a real pleasure. And today’s event could not be a clearer demonstration of just how vibrant and exciting an industry we have here.

And I don’t just mean here in London.

But across the country we’ve got Fintech businesses large and small.

From Manchester to Gateshead.

And Cambridge to Grimsby.

I hear the University of Middlesex is even teaming up now with Worldpay to run a new FinTech master’s course.

With all that at play, it’s not surprising that in the global Fintech industry, the UK is seen as being right at the forefront.

So I’m a lucky minister to inherit an industry in such rude health as part of my new brief as Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

But my role, as I see it, is to do two things.

Firstly, to make sure that we in government do what we can to keep it that way.

To help the Fintech sector keep innovating, keep growing, and keep making the financial lives of British people better.

But secondly, to make sure that when it comes to Brexit, this industry, an industry which knows more about embracing the future than perhaps any other, makes this change a success too.

So there are three things I want to talk to you about today.

What we’re already doing to support this industry.

What we’re going to be doing in the near future.

And what matters to me when it comes to getting the right Brexit deal for the Fintech sector.

So let me start with what the government has been doing to facilitate the success of this sector.

And don’t get me wrong.

I’m not about to take the credit for the success those of you working in our Fintech businesses have achieved.

Because if Britain is ahead of the pack when it comes to leading the way forward in world FinTech, that is ultimately down to your talents, your creativity and your hard work and entrepreneurial skill.

But what we are trying to do in government, working hand in hand with the FCA and the Bank (of England), is to make sure Britain is a place where Fintech will go from strength to strength.

Well first of all we’re trying to make sure companies can get all the advice they need to get their ideas off the ground and become authorised.

And that’s why the FCA set up both the Innovation Hub and the Advice Hub to support robo-advice.

They’ve also gone a step further with their Regulatory Sandbox, which will mean companies have a way to test their products with consumers in a safe space before they take on the usual full regulatory process.

The Bank of England is also leading the way on FinTech for Central Banks, setting up a Fintech Accelerator to partner with FinTech firms to explore innovative solutions to the challenges the Bank faces.

And in the Treasury, we’re also making sure we keep reaching out to markets across the world.

Both through the appointment of Eileen Burbidge as the Treasury’s international FinTech envoy.

And through what the Treasury calls our “Fintech bridges” where we work strategically together with other countries to create links between our firms and investors.

We also keep listening to what the industry is telling us is needed – that’s why, for example, we created a bespoke regulatory regime for peer-to-peer lending and included it within the Innovative Finance ISA.

But there’s more we’ve got in the pipeline to take us even further.

We’re paving the way for a whole new wave of innovation, for example, through the introduction of open banking in 2018, which will open up current account data to third parties.

We’re getting banks to refer businesses to alternative finance providers if they turn them down for a loan.

And the Bank of England’s work to broaden access to their settlement accounts and to payment systems will help FinTechs in this business take on the established banks.

All of this will help drive an unprecedented level of competition in the financial services market, unleashing more innovation, more choice and better services for British customers.

But we won’t be resting on our laurels.

That’s one of the things about this industry.

You have to keep moving, and you have to keep improving.

And one of the things we know is an area we want to address is the investment we’re getting into this sector.

Because even before June 23rd, and I’ll return shortly to that theme, investment was one of our weaker areas, if you compare the UK to the likes of Silicon valley.

And that is why I am very pleased to announce here today that the Treasury is going to be hosting a FinTech conference of our own next year, focused on promoting UK Fintech businesses to investors.

And we’ll be working hard between and now and then, to bring investors from across the world right here to London.

So the UK remains a global home for Fintech innovation.

So that brings me to the topic of our departure from the EU.

And what I believe is so important for us to get right Brexit deal for the Fintech sector.

And I’m going to start by talking about markets.

Because we live in an age where businesses don’t want to limit their horizons.

They don’t want to limit themselves to this market or that.

But to go global.

And to have the freest possible trade across the world.

And in this industry, which is so internationally facing, that is particularly the case – and I think even more so for companies operating in things like payments, foreign exchange and remittances.

And that is why, in the Brexit negotiations to come, we will be striving for a deal which enables companies to trade effectively in goods and services across Europe.

But we’ll also be putting our newly formed Department for International Trade to good use as we look to do this across the rest of the world too.

Because this has always been a country which believers that the surest route to economic growth and prosperity is through trade, links and collaboration across our borders.

The second thing I want to talk about is people.

Because it’s the talent we have in this country, and that we have attracted to this country, which has really driven our success.

And we want to keep it that way.

And so we want to hear from you in the industry how we can keep making sure we have the skills coming through to propel your businesses forward in the future.

And lastly, I want to talk about investment.

Because as I said earlier, even before Brexit, this was something we wanted to work on.

And we know that in these more uncertain times for the UK, people might feel more cautious about investing here.

That’s why this government is going to keep on banging the drum for British investment and showing the world what we have to offer in the UK.

Whether that’s our time zone or our language.

Our skills and talent or our research and development.

And our effective regulatory system or our competitive tax regime.

There are countless reasons why the UK is still home to the greatest concentration of finance, technology and professional services on the planet.

And we want to keep it that way.

So when it comes to Brexit, let me reassure you on two key points.

Firstly, that this government is determined to make our withdrawal from the EU a success for the Fintech industry too.

And secondly, that we will be out there, listening to you, and to your ideas about how we can do that.

Because this isn’t just about looking out for an industry that’s worth almost £7 billion, and employs over 60,000 people.

It also goes to the heart of what Fintech businesses are all about.

And that’s shaking up the market.

Finding new, better ways of helping their customers.

And not only challenging the established banks to do the same, but increasingly working alongside them to do so.

And that’s great news for people in this country.

So I’m looking forward to working with you all, as we keep making Fintech a great British success story.

Thank you very much.

Published 25 October 2016