Financial technology. Two words that are readily associated with innovation, it is often thought that the field has only began to come to fruition in recent years with the emergence of mobile banking, cryptocurrencies and alike.
In reality, however, fintech has been prevalent for decades, manifesting itself in applications that many take for granted or fail to recognise.
The term fintech itself was coined in 1993, but, by definition, its implementation dates back much further than this.
The credit card, for example, was launched in the 1950s, removing the need to carry change. The ATM meanwhile was introduced in the 1960s, followed by electronic stock exchanges in the 1970s.
Even following these flagship developments, Tim Berners-Lee’s creation of the World Wide Web in 1990 opened a multitude of new doors for the financial industry, from ecommerce transactions to online broking.
Fast forward to the present day, and this growth curve has continued to accelerate and change the shape of the many industries, no better evidenced than by the rapidly shifting tide in the UK market.
“There are, currently, more than 1,600 fintech firms in the UK contributing £7 billion to our country's economy, and predictions suggest these numbers will keep growing in the years to come,” reveals Alastair Lukies, CBE.
“A community of this size needs space to thrive, but until now it has been hard to find a place where stakeholders could unite to discuss the topics that matter and focus on finding solutions to the challenges that are common to all of us.”
Such was the motivation behind the formation of the FinTech Alliance, a brand-new organisation chaired by Lukies that stands to be the resolution of this problem, providing a platform for substantiated cooperation.
“The UK is leading the way when it comes to fintech and we have to keep working very hard if we want to stay on top,” he adds. “That’s why it is so important we have a strong and united community. Hence, the FinTech Alliance.”
Launched on June 10, 2019 in partnership with the UK government, the FinTech Alliance is still in its infancy.
Its ambitions, however, are both sophisticated and extensive, gearing up to become a multifaceted digital engagement platform that will benefit the entire financial and technology ecosystem.
“We want to be the go-to place for everything fintech related,” explains Lukies. “A place where anyone interested in the sector can go to access the latest news and insights, government and regulatory policies, access talent, and connect with funding.
“I’m incredibly excited that companies and individuals alike will finally have one single online destination to go to share best practices, seek advice and become a stronger community.”
This community-centric aspect is the overriding ethos driving the organisation’s vision, proud to be positioning itself as the UK’s first collaboration fintech platform. The Alliance has even committed to reinvesting all of its profits back into the sector, driving circular benefits and providing a fully inclusive environment that will support industry growth and empower UK businesses.
“We want this to be a platform built for and by the people in our community,” reveals Lukies. “Collaboration is fundamental throughout the UK – if we, as a country, want to keep leading the way in innovation, we need to have a strong community.”
Its reach will not be limited either.
From lending, payments and money transfer providers to personal and equity financers and insurtechs, the entire ecosystem will stand to experience substantial benefit.
Lukies continues: “Our platform is built on providing opportunity and education to those working in the sector. It will also open up international opportunities and build bridges, enabling global growth and success.
“Users will be able to raise their brand profile and find business opportunities; access services, tools, resources, advice and mentoring; build a network of contacts and interact with key stakeholders; connect with investors to meet capital requirements; and much, much more.”
Enabling an ecosystem
Looking ahead, such merits will be crucial in helping UK businesses bolster their expertise, stature and presence within the sphere of financial technology.
Ultimately, this is the motivating factor behind FinTech Alliance’s expansion ambitions, gearing up to broaden its reach across the country in order to bring together different communities and facilitate mutually beneficial growth.
Pointing to the future, Lukies concludes: “The UK has been a leader in fintech for some time. However, this is not something that has happened by chance, and certainly something we cannot be complacent about.
“Much work has gone in over the past 10 years from the government, regulators, incumbents, innovators and most importantly many regions across the country to create the unique alchemy that we have today. The FinTech Alliance will not only demonstrate this thriving environment digitally but will further cement our key role in the global fintech ecosystem.
“We are here to help the ecosystem thrive and to strengthen the community we are helping to build.”