Every Wednesday, we delve into the latest fintech updates from across the UK. This week brings updates from Barclays, EchoPay, Token.io, Forbes Advisor and SpareMyTime.
UK bolsters cybersecurity future with free education platform
The UK government is encouraging schools to take advantage of its free learning platform introducing 11 to 14 year olds to important cybersecurity concepts: ‘Cyber Explorers’.
Over 50,000 students from 2,000 schools around the country have already signed up to Cyber Explorers. Half of all UK businesses current have a basic cybersecurity skills gap, while a lack of cyber skills means young people could miss out on innovative and exciting careers
Viscount Camrose, the UK’s Cyber Minister, said: “The UK’s growing cyber sector is where the technological innovations and digital discoveries of the future will start. That’s why we’re focused on breaking down the barriers to entry and creating new opportunities for young people to gain the skills and knowledge that could kick-start exciting careers in cyber.”
SMEs in London double down on tech investment
London-based SMEs are increasing their tech budgets, allocating over half of their annual revenue to technology investments, according to a new report by Barclays.
In London, 64 per cent of SMEs, are turning to technology investments to increase productivity and 43 per cent are doing so to future-proof their company (compared to 45 per cent UK-wide).
These SMEs based in the capital are directing an average of 54 per cent of their annual revenue to technology investments, such as data analytics and artificial intelligence tools, as they try to counter rising costs and climbing interest rates by increasing productivity.
Colin O’Flaherty, head of SME at Barclaycard Payments, commented: “Retail SMEs in particular have displayed a remarkable agility in adapting to evolving consumer behaviours by adopting emerging technologies – setting the stage for a brighter year ahead”.
AI-focused degrees lead the way
Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused degrees are now the most valuable, as per 25 per cent of UK businesses in the latest Forbes Advisor study. Meanwhile, 40 per cent of employees deemed AI expertise to be the most in-demand skill in the UK job market.
Information technology (IT) remains a highly desirable degree, with 21 per cent of employers valuing it the highest. Computer science is the third most valued degree by British employers (18 per cent); while medicine and dentistry followed.
Kevin Pratt, business expert at Forbes Advisor, discussed the findings: “Technology degrees have been highly sought-after for a couple of decades now, and this trend does not seem likely to change any time soon. In fact, if anything, it is getting stronger. Obtaining a highly sought-after qualification not only equips graduates with relevant skills but also positions them at the forefront of innovation and the evolving landscape of employment opportunities.”
Partnership brings A2A payments to UK wholesale merchants
Account-to-account (A2A) payments provider, EchoPay, has joined forces with open banking payment infrastructure leader, Token.io, to bring A2A payments to wholesale merchants across the UK.
Unitas Wholesale, the UK’s largest independent wholesale buying group, anticipates saving its wholesale members up to £5million in banking charges this year, thanks to this strategic partnership.
James Ward, CEO and founder of EchoPay, explained: “Our ambition is to help independent wholesalers across the country improve their profitability by reducing their banking charges. Our new partnership with industry leaders Token.io is an important step in enabling even more businesses to discover the benefits of open banking-enabled payments.”
Outsourcing continues to grow in the UK
Global spending on outsourcing could hit £571billion by the end of the year, with 48 per cent of UK companies now outsourcing their work; virtual assistant service provider SpareMyTime has revealed.
These figures highlight an acceleration since the pandemic, growing 41 per cent since 2019. By analysing datasets from Deloitte, IBISWorld and YouGov, SpareMyTime also found that UK businesses allocated £500billion to outsourcing in 2022.
Melissa Gauge, founder of SpareMyTime, commented: “As businesses embark on the journey of scaling up, their needs inevitably shift, demanding increased capacity in different areas. The transition isn’t solely centred around unfamiliarity with processes; rather, it revolves around the quest for high-quality support. Attracting exceptional talent becomes a steep hill to climb during this phase and clients seek our assistance due to recruitment challenges. Our fortunate advantage lies in our ability to effortlessly draw in top-tier professionals, owing to our scale and the opportunities we offer”.