The Kalifa Review called for an ecosystem of support for innovation within financial services to which we are seeing a great response UK wide from many stakeholders, all of whom will be vital in ensuring a competitive UK fintech environment.
TISAtech is a new generation digital marketplace connecting Financial Institutions with FinTechs to facilitate the accelerated partnering and adoption of transformational digital solutions. With an increasing need to streamline business processes, generate new revenue opportunities and consistently meet the ever-evolving demands of the regulators, TISAtech has been designed to help financial institutions throughout the industry source, implement and manage innovative technology solutions. With over 20 years of experience in the field of finance, Gary Bond is the CEO of TISAtech.
When discussing the topic of the Kalifa Review and what UK fintechs must do to remain competitive and go global, Bond had this to say:
Ron Kalifa, in his review of UK fintech, called it “a permanent, technological revolution, that is changing the way we do finance.” The resulting review of UK fintech is a landmark document for the UK financial services industry, and the implementation of its five recommendations will be vital to ensure the “permanent, technological revolution” maintains momentum. It is, without doubt, a step-change in the Government’s approach to fintech, and the industry has rightly greeted its publication with acclaim.
However, calls for an “international action plan for fintech” are, in our view, insufficient: too often, enterprising fintechs with clear potential for long-term success have been let down by the gatekeeping that still exists within financial services. Whether its regulatory, financial or even immigration barriers that fintechs encounter when seeking access to or from the UK, a comprehensive framework is needed to ensure competitiveness for the industry. The visa problems raised by the Kalifa Review are in many ways the simplest to resolve: the review rightly calls for the creation of a new visa stream that will guarantee continued access for UK fintechs to international talent.
A global fintech space
For UK fintech to succeed, it must be part of an interconnected, global space. The Kalifa Review emphasises the importance of fintech to the UK economy as a whole; but it cannot thrive in isolation. A comprehensive and interlaced network of companies that can access expertise and services across borders will be key to accelerating innovation in UK financial services. This is why, at TISAtech, we have been working closely with international institutions to promote fintech bridges, technical and regulatory facilitation agreements with important partners such as the EU, the UAE and Israel.
To create that fluid, interconnected space, we need to agree on how we assess the readiness of fintechs. Providing a pathway to cross-border service provision will be crucial. Therefore, to support a global UK fintech industry, perhaps the most important recommendation in the review is the call for an international fintech standard. If implemented, it would give confidence that enterprising fintechs can rapidly port their technology across borders and regulatory spheres, enabling a prospective buyer to compare the capabilities of a fintech from Soweto with one from Shoreditch in a consistent standardised manner.
On the regulatory side, we have already seen an important shift in approach in the UK, with the FCA’s scalable regulatory sandbox being a vital development. The FCA are already on the front foot: encouraging innovation, granting initial permissions and extending regulatory approvals until the applicant becomes an established financial service provider.
Ensuring cross-border access
For many fintech businesses, access to market is a key priority alongside shortening of the sales cycle. Onboarding processes for medium and large organisations are time-consuming and labour-intensive, with regulatory barriers exacerbating already steep access requirements. The entire onboarding stage may take up to an unsustainable total of 30 months. Without streamlining this stage, fintechs will struggle to grow against the established, incumbent players in the industry.
Enterprise readiness accreditation against a common global assessment standard, can help both clients and fintechs to accelerate trust formation and address regulatory concerns at the beginning of relationship saving time and money for all parties.
This international fintech exchange could in a single platform assess the sustainability of a fintech business, advise on the readiness of a product to port across regulatory spheres and provide introductions to buy-side organisations across borders, accelerating what is now a highly complex process. The ultimate result would be to increase competition from new, entrepreneurial fintech operations and boost the health of the entire sector.
That is why, with our partner The Disruption House, TISAtech has been working to develop a streamlined assessment process for fintechs. With grading according to BSI standard, we are working to develop a platform that will rapidly assess, list and suggest counterparties to UK and international fintech businesses. A similar system could be scaled globally with an international agreement on standards. The publication of the Kalifa Review is the perfect moment to call for such standardisation, and we look forward to working with governments across the globe to facilitate this process.
Ensuring the success of UK fintech
The Kalifa Review calls for an ecosystem of support for innovation within financial services to which we are seeing a great response UK wide from many stakeholders, all of whom will be vital in ensuring a competitive UK fintech environment.
But without international cooperation and an agreed, global standard we risk siloing progress and limiting the potential of the financial services sector to develop. We need to build a simple, accessible and transparent international fintech ecosystem that facilitates an international exchange of funding, skills and expertise if the “permanent revolution” in financial services is to continue, creating jobs and value in our economies.