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Financial Services: At the Forefront of Innovation

Kate Goldfinch, Editor, for The Fintech Times.

FinTech innovators and leaders from across the world were brought together for the annual Innovate Finance Global Summit on 19th-20th April. The Fintech Times prepared a special IFGS overview.

In the historic setting of the London Guildhall, the Innovate Finance Global Summit aimed to map the opportunities, challenges, and future of fintech, not just in the UK but globally. More than 2,000 fintech leaders and innovators across the world, along with over 180 speakers, gathered together to engage and interact through demo showcases, exhibitor spaces, workshops, and roundtables. From global fintech hubs to industry organisations, delegates were exposed to the most exciting trends and innovators in the sector.

IFGS 2018 kickstarted the official UK ‘FinTech Week’. Alongside IFGS, the week featured events by HM Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and London Stock Exchange (LSE) and brought finance, technology, and innovation enthusiasts from across the world to London.

During the Innovate Finance Global Summit 2018 Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), at a ceremony that took place on March 20 at The Anthologist, announced the two winners of its UK Fintech Awards 2018 (“The Awards”), organised in conjunction with the UK’s Department for International Trade, to tap the rich seam of Fintech talent in the UK and showcase the exciting opportunities Hong Kong presents as a conduit to Asia.

The Awards follow the launch in September of the UK-Hong Kong Fintech Bridge (“the Bridge”) to foster closer collaboration at government, regulator and business level in the Fintech sector. The two winners were given complimentary flight tickets in business class to Hong Kong sponsored by Cathay Pacific, plus accommodation for five days, sponsored by Cyberport as well as a free booth and ticket for Hong Kong Fintech Week. In Hong Kong, they will receive introductions, networking opportunities, and sector expert counsel on how to expand and scale their business in and through Hong Kong to Asia and beyond.

Thorsten Terweiden, InvestHK’s Deputy Head of Fintech, said: “We’re very excited about this new Award, and about the possibility of introducing top Fintech talent from the UK to the range of opportunities that exist in Hong Kong. The experience will undoubtedly be hugely informative and helpful, but it will also be a real game changer for the winner.”

Unlocking a new face of finance

This year’s IFGS proved that there is a new face of finance, a face consumers can trust. Fintech is evolving, covering new sectors and technologies, as Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance, explained to The Fintech Times: “What was once used to describe startup disruptors like peer-to-peer lenders and digital payments, now covers everything from Capital Markets to banking infrastructure. Even the word fintech isn’t enough – there are so many new verticals appearing that we now have InsurTech, RegTech, WealthTech. Disruption seems to be infiltrating every aspect of Financial Services as we know it. We are also seeing new technologies come under the “Tech” umbrella; Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, and of course, who could ignore the cryptocurrency and blockchain boom. Once seen as lagging behind and resisting change, it seems Financial Services is now at the forefront of innovation.’ Relative to last year, the 2018 Innovate Finance Global Summit was all about an evolved ecosystem, a sector which continues to challenge itself and an industry which has grown up.”

There were some core ideas that reflect mainstream views:

Regulation

  • In this digital era, everything is becoming better, faster, and cheaper. Innovations push regulators to change their strategies. Regulators need to do things completely differently, and to use collaborative safe to buy levitra online models in order to become much more efficient.
  • Regulators need to be flexible in their response to what is happening in the financial industry. They need to ensure that they maintain the flexibility and strength of competition in the financial services industry.
  • In this new era, regulators need to be able to answer challenges quickly.
  • Sandbox helps to put a jurisdiction on the fintech map.

ICO & Crypto

  • Transitioning from the ‘Wild West’ to more regulation. Enterprise tokenisation scalability is on the agenda. More and more matured companies issue tokens e.g. Telegram. What is the next thing? Governmental tokens… Why not issue a Brexit token (joke!).
  • Challenges ahead, concerned the issues with scalability being a bottleneck.

Customer relations

  • Don’t concentrate on products, just focus on what consumers want to achieve.
Challenges, drivers and priorities

When considering the biggest challenges, for fintechs from one side, and traditional players from another side, we ought to mention the rapid rise of FinTech that has in turn caused banks to look inwardly and assess whether legacy systems and processes are still applicable and viable. “We are now seeing the start of a new incumbent bank. This bank has fintech labs, partners with startups, and recruits technologists and coders – driving innovation forward by increasingly integrating a startup mindset. We’ve seen some incredible examples of banks investing, partnering and acquiring FinTechs in the last year,” Charlotte Crosswell said. One of the key drivers behind this is PSD2 and Open Banking. This particular regulation has the opportunity to truly transform the Financial Services industry, rethinking how products and services could be offered and delivered. Whether this actually leads to new ways of banking or innovative new solutions, it has set the foundation for a new, open, and more collaborative way of working and consuming.

Fintech is evolving all the time, covering new sectors and technologies. What was once used to describe startup disruptors like peer-to-peer lenders and digital payments, now covers everything from Capital Markets to banking infrastructure.

John Glen, MP, mentioned in his opening address the TOP-3 fintech drivers (3C):

  • Competition: it is key. We need to welcome innovations and create a competitive environment.
  • Capital: digital economy is rising faster than the traditional economy. So, we need to create the terms and conditions to attract capital at the market. Liberalise doing business terms and stimulate investments into R&D, science, and innovations.
  • Connectivity: Fintech has huge potential in empowering financial inclusion. Open banking is the next step to make financial services cheaper, more affordable for the mass market, and more accessible for the unbanked population.

“We consider the priorities to be the importance of access to patient capital; the ongoing need for a proactive and technology-enabled regulatory framework; an acknowledgement of the importance of securing global talent and developing local skills; the need to continually develop, evolve and support the sector,” Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance noted. With this in mind, she announced the launch of the Fintech Strategy Group (FSG) with the City of London Corporation. This group will provide an industry-led independent group with the aim of challenging ourselves, looking at what it is needed now to prepare for the future, and bringing together fintech leaders and innovators, whilst providing a platform for external parties, the government, and regulators to consult and engage with. “We were encouraged by the Chancellor’s vocal endorsement of the Sector this week and his announcement of the FSG as it reflects many of the discussions we have held on behalf of our members with HMT and across Whitehall over recent months.”

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