London has established itself as a global hub for financial technology and now its fintech start-ups must take on the export challenge. That was the message from the founders, investors and experts brought together by Seven Hills for FINTECH 2015, an event to explore the opportunities and challenges facing the capital’s fintech sector.
The event, which Seven Hills developed in partnership with Europe’s largest fintech accelerator Level39 and campaign group Tech London Advocates, featured speakers from some of London’s most prominent fintech companies, support organisations and venture firms: including MarketInvoice co-founder Anil Stocker, Passion Capital partner Eileen Burbidge, Tech City UK CEO Gerard Grech, Tech London Advocates founder Russ Shaw, finnCap CEO Sam Smith, Level39 head Eric van der Kleij, and Seedcamp co-founder Reshma Sohoni.
The benign regulatory environment for fintech in the UK was highlighted as a significant point of competitive advantage for London, with RateSetter co-founder Rhydian Lewis arguing that government had stolen a march on the City in its appreciation of the growth opportunity around fintech.
The attraction of London as a destination for entrepreneurs from around the world was another focus, while others pointed to the shortage of skilled talent as a potential brake on the industry. “There’s so much competition on a worldwide basis [that] it’s hard [for companies] to find the people to grow as fast as they want,” said Greg Rogers, managing director of the Barclays accelerator powered by Techstars.
The 300-strong audience also heard a showcase of presentations from the founders of emerging fintech brands: digital current account provider Ffrees; children’s debit card app Osper; overseas transfer service Moni; foreign exchange provider Caxton FX; and bespoke equity crowdfunding platform Venture Founders.
Highlighting the degree of support that exists for companies in the sector, Tech City UK CEO Gerard Grech was joined by two members of the Future 50 Programme, a Tech City UK scheme to support the growth of the nation’s most high potential tech companies: peer-to-peer lender RateSetter and direct debit platform GoCardless.
The future opportunity around export was another area of discussion: in a keynote address, MarketInvoice’s Anil Stocker predicted that the next 18 months will start to see UK fintech start-ups develop operations abroad, albeit that progress will always be complicated by the range of legal and regulatory frameworks to be managed.
“I’m very optimistic about fintech, optimistic about London,” he said. “[We’re] at the beginning of a very important journey. Many of the companies you [are hearing] from today are changing financial services: that will benefit everyone in the economy.”