London Lord Mayor: Emerging markets threaten UK’s fintech status

By Rebekah Tunstead | 3 October 2019

The UK must drive innovation to remain a key fintech hub as emerging markets scale rapidly, according to Peter Estlin, Lord Mayor of the City of London.

“We’ve talked about the sheer strength of fintech here in the UK and it is a mark of quality and it’s regarded for that quality around the world. But if you look at scale, I’ve just got back from India last week where there are now eight times as many companies in India than there are in London,” said Estlin, at the P20 conference in London this week.

“There is a bit of an east and west here. If we don’t shape the agenda internationally then the dominance and scale of India, China, and coming down the pipe will be Africa, and those are huge markets of scale. They don’t have the quality, no disrespect [to those places], but they don’t necessarily have some of the substance, but they are going to catch up pretty quickly. 

“Scale is important in one sense because of the investment that is required. The question is how are we continuing to innovate and recognising that if we don’t shape the future, the future is going to be shaped by somebody else,” he said.

According to a report published in September by London & Partners and Innovate Finance, the UK has taken the second spot for fintech venture capital investment for 2019. The US, UK, and Germany took the top three spaces, with China dropping to fourth place from second last year. The US has invested $9.37bn across 477 deals in 2019, whereas the UK invested $2.29bn across 142 deals.

As data becomes “the new global currency”, Estlin said that focus must turn towards setting standards.

“If we look at markets that are emerging - and they are emerging – they have different standards, they come from different cultural positions… but the question is, in a global world how are we bringing those [standards] together?”

“We have a responsibility to drive the agenda in perhaps a more collaborative way than we have been doing.”

Estlin also warned that the speed at which banks onboard new customers must increase.

“The speed in which we can open up a bank account for an inbound company coming into the UK. It is not fast enough,” he said.

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