Innovate Finance Global Summit 2017

By Gemma Dunn on Wednesday, 12 April 2017

This week and next the focus is firmly on the UK’s fintech sector and its potential to scale into one of fastest drivers of growth for the UK economy.

Such optimism was echoed at the annual Innovate Finance Global Summit this week, which concentrated on the scale that could be realised through collaboration between institutions, fintechs, investors and industry stakeholders. This is a far cry from the first summit calling for the emerging fintechs to take on the establishment, principally banks, and steal the market.

Amongst the more than 2,000 delegates and 90 speakers from around the world at the Guild Hall, there was a consensus that in the year ahead the greatest source of disruption (and opportunity) would be from the roll out of open banking and emergence of RegTech (regulation and tech). As investment in fintech globally soars to reach $17.4bn according to Deloitte, there was a palpable sense of excitement at the growth ahead.

Regtech is one of the emerging areas of innovation as the market applies technology to meet regulatory and consumer needs, including addressing the security issues of digital identity. This theme was picked up in the headline interview between Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the web, and Innovate Finance Chairman Alastair Lukies, during which they also discussed the dangers posed by today’s online behaviour to our society. There was a sense of Tim’s sadness that his vision for what could be achieved by the web is so far from the realities of fake news and trolling.

From a business perspective, there was much discussion on industry collaboration and the potential for partnerships to transform how customers and the global community are served through fintech. On day two at Pitch360, new innovations were presented in a series of six minute pitches categories - ranging from blockchain and AI to financial inclusion as people vied for a £10,000 prize. This exciting day saw GuardSquare emerge as winner, a product that protects banking apps against attacks. With cyber threats increasingly on the fintech agenda and the cyber market estimated to be worth over $200bn by 2021, there can be no doubt how much potential there is in GuardSquare’s proposition.

Breakout sessions on day two addressed the skills fintechs need to scale, grow and communicate their offering. One particularly interesting session, with Scalable Capital, Bud, Santander InnoVentures and EdAid on the panel, looked at the secret sauce for fintechs looking to grow. The consensus was that having the right team is key, as is being able to educate and inspire customers. Santander InnoVentures gave an institutional perspective and referred to its investment in Kabbage in the US, an organisation that provides flexible access to business finance as a means of improving their own bank capabilities. EdAid, which helps students to crowdfund their university fees, focused on the need to convert people quickly into paying customers post-launch and like Bud, a money management app, reaffirmed the need to know your customers and their individual needs.

Altogether it was a fascinating few days which has confirmed our view that fintech will create lasting opportunities for our society and economy as a whole, yet proved that there will be a continued tension between disrupting the market and realising scale through collaboration with established providers.

This latter area is one we as an agency are passionate about helping fintechs address – and are looking forward to debating at our panel session with The Memo on the 25th April. Contact if you would like to join us.

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