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The UK is a global leader in FinTech, and has a long history in supporting innovation in financial services – from being home to some of the world’s most forward-thinking FinTech companies, to launching the first-ever regulatory sandbox, to our current status as a pioneer in Open Banking.
FinTechs have helped accelerate the industry’s ability to reach customers in new and digital ways, and our achievements are something to be proud of. But we must not rest on our laurels. We were delighted to contribute to Ron Kalifa’s recent review of the UK’s FinTech sector and welcome its findings. It’s clear the UK must act decisively to continue to drive value for its communities – a challenge that all of us in the industry must rise to, in order to maintain momentum and continue to deliver innovation and enable disruption.
It’s even more important at a time when consumer behaviour is changing rapidly. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve seen behaviour changes that generally occur over a few years, take place in just a few months – for example, since contactless limits were raised there have been over 400 million additional touch-free transactions with Visa in the UK1.
For the UK to continue to lead the way on FinTech there are three things we need to focus on – innovation, inclusion and partnerships.
To continue to deliver solutions that will make life better for consumers, businesses and communities, the UK must maintain its mindset of being open to innovation and disruption. We are already leading the way in Europe with the recent decision to raise contactless limits to £100.
It’s important we work closely with the industry and government to ensure the recommendations from the Kalifa Review are put into action. It is a very strong proposal covering a range of areas from how we build a pipeline of FinTech talent to how we can ensure the UK’s regulatory frameworks are as effective as possible. The ambitious new plans announced by the Treasury to launch a Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology are a strong step in the right direction.
Finally, as a country, we must continue to encourage innovation – particularly in areas like real-time payments, open banking and digital currencies. These solutions are at the forefront of the next revolution in financial services technology – as consumer behaviours continue to shift, they will be increasingly important.
FinTech is about opening up new possibilities, but as the pace of digital transformation accelerates, we must also ensure that those who aren’t as digitally connected are not excluded.
We recognise the part we can play in enabling people to choose how they pay and are paid. But inclusivity in the evolving digital economy goes far beyond payments. It’s about encouraging social inclusion and enabling communities to interact with online services and improving financial education, so people don’t find themselves excluded by lack of knowledge.
We also must continue to diversify our collective workforce, improving the representation of women, ethnic minorities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, so we can reflect the communities we are here to serve.
The potential of FinTech to meet the varied needs of all consumers is the most exciting part of all. We recognise the critical role that FinTech can play in the digital transition, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of digital empowerment.
The final piece of the puzzle is partnerships. Our belief is that no single organisation has all the answers. It’s through a wide range of organisations working together that innovation will thrive. This includes established banks and financial institutions, FinTech start-ups and technology companies.
At Visa we remain focused on investing, partnering, supporting and championing FinTechs through a number of initiatives. Our Fast-Track programme has made it easier for over 80 FinTechs to grow their business and expand their capabilities, while Visa Fintech Partner Connect brings together the expertise of FinTechs, banks and Visa to build exciting new solutions. Our latest step to support UK FinTechs is the return of our Visa Everywhere Initiative – welcoming innovation through a competition that has resulted in more than $2.5billion in funding in over 100 countries.
By working together, keeping inclusivity front of mind and focusing relentlessly on innovation, the UK can retain its status as a FinTech trailblazer and meet the evolving needs of future generations.
1 One Billion Additional Touch-Free Visa Payments Made As Consumers Embrace Contactless Commerce – https://www.visa.co.uk/about-visa/newsroom/press-releases.3088603.html