Industry23rd April 2024

IFGS 2024 summary: building for the next decade

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How does London maintain its position as a centre of financial services innovation and what will that look like in 2034?

That question was tackled by innovators from the financial services and the fintech ecosystem at the Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) in London. Within the historic Guildhall in the heart of the City of London, innovators from the financial services and the fintech ecosystem celebrated the tenth edition of the event by reflecting on a decade of change and disruption. While celebrating that success, the event focussed on a vision of what financial services should look like in ten years’ time and what the industry needs to do to get there. That took the form of how fintech could affect other industries, the opportunities and risks of transformative technologies such as AI and what the next generation of consumers looks like.

Inevitably that also meant a focus of who will lead in the ever-changing ecosystem and the regulatory framework that will balance innovation and stability.

Creating the foundations for UK growth

In her opening remarks, Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, set the tone when she implored the event was an opportunity to “not look back, but to look forward”. Her keynote referred to Innovate Finance’s pursuit of a fintech manifesto centred on developing the UK as a global hub for the smart data economy and encouraging the adoption of new technologies.

These efforts have been boosted by the inception of the Unicorn Council for UK Fintech (UCFT) last month, which is to be chaired by Hirt alongside ClearBank CEO Charles McManus and Philip Belamant, CEO of Zilch.

Members of the UCFT took to the stage for the first discussion, ‘Generation unicorn: CEO perspectives on the next decade of growth‘, where our CEO, Charles McManus, was joined by Revolut UK CEO Francesca Carlesi; Iana Dimitrova, CEO of OpenPayd; Francesco Simoneschi, co-founder and CEO of TrueLayer; and Thought Machine CEO Paul Taylor.

The conversation delved into the group’s thoughts and attitudes towards the current direction of the industry and whether there were any concerns around how and where it goes next. One topic to emerge from this conversation was stock market flotations, with the panel assessing the pros and cons of a London-based debut. The panel agreed upon the strategic advantages of listing in the same jurisdiction as key business activities, with OpenPayd’s Dimitrova highlighting the UK’s strong talent pool and technological understanding as a benefit to this endeavour.

Regulatory frameworks and developing Open Finance

A narrative that resurfaced across the two days was regulation, starting with the UCFT publishing its council members recommendations to strengthen the UK. It noted that the UK regulatory environment for fintechs has largely been built piecemeal over the last decade, reacting to new products as they emerge.

That theme also emerged from the Future of Payment Review towards the end of last year that noted initiatives between regulators lacked coordination. The UCFT recommended a re-think of the regulatory approach to create a more cohesive and efficient environment to foster innovation, growth and competition.

Another big announcement came from UK government Economic Secretary to the Treasury Bim Ofolami, and the formation of the Open Finance Taskforce chaired by the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

During his keynote, he explained the taskforce “will craft a clear set of recommendations, pinpointing the data sets of commercial incentives necessary to drive forward CFIT’s SME lending use case.”

The minister also stated they would need a “payments landscape where open banking can thrive”, stating the government will do so through the National Payments Vision due to be published by summer recess. “Government can only do so much. I am not from the school of thought that thinks great innovation comes from people like me, it comes from you,” he added.

Building on the foundations of Open Banking allows data sharing across a wider set of products, including savings, mortgages and insurance. This could unlock an extra £30.5 billion in GDP a year for the UK, according to a paper from Innovate Finance and KPMG. At the launch, Innovate Finance CEO Janine Hirt commented:

“The UK has been a pioneer in Open Banking and now has the opportunity to be the pioneer of smart data. To realise these benefits however, we must still answer the question: how do we get there? How do we extend consent-based, data-driven services across datasets currently held in different financial service sectors to unlock new use cases and innovative services and products?"

Janine Hirt, CEO, Innovate Finance
Helping fintech to deliver on inclusion

Finally, an announcement that wasn’t widely reported on that caught our attention was Project Nemo. The non-profit organisation has been set up by disability advocate Kris Foster and former fintech CEO Joanne Dewar. The project, which will consist of a 12-month disability inclusion campaign, intends to provide the fintech sector with the resources and expertise to help build a more inclusive industry.

Speaking about the project’s aims at IFGS, Dewar explained:

Fintechs have been really good at creating specific solutions to address specific pockets of exclusion...all products and services should be accessible. I feel without the inclusion on the inside, we've missed a trick in thinking about the accessibility of the products and services on the outside.”

Joanne Dewar, Project Nemo

By the time IFGS comes around again we should have further clarity around some of the regulatory frameworks to enable the next phase of growth, including the UK Government’s National Payments Vision.

Meanwhile, the innovators will continue to build new services. We’re proud to support firms on that journey and evolve our own role within the UK’s vibrant financial services ecosystem.

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