Fintech makes the world go around

March 13, 2019  10:38 AM

Hear from some of the women shaping UK fintech

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

Innovate Finance released its Women in FinTech Powerlist last month with a list of 150 women who, its says “have made a real impact over and above their day-to-day role in fintech.” There were 1200 entries.

Charlotte Crosswell, CEO at Innovate Finance, said these women are making a major impact on the fintech talent pipeline. “This is despite continued under-representation in terms of funding female-led firms. It is vital that the sector doesn’t just pay lip service to inclusion and diversity. We must now be geared more towards action and ensuring change actually happens.”

I caught up with some of the women on the list to ask them for their views on the challenge of increasing the number of women in fintech and the risks to the industry if it continues to be dominated by men.

Sophie Theen, head of HR and talent at fintech 11:FS

Theen makes sure that the underlining values of the culture at 11:FS is embedded into its hiring processes, the way we represent ourselves in the candidate market as well as pushing diversity and inclusion initiatives up the agenda.

She was previously a talent management particular within the automotive industry before getting the opportunity to do great things and disrupt traditional HR in Fintech.

What is needed to increase the number of women in fintech?

“The thing is with fintech, it’s a closed ecosystem that is only open to people who are either 150% passionate about banking or finance, otherwise they hardly ever come across the Fintech network. We need to proactively open up this circle, and a lot of companies are already doing brilliantly in their community efforts.

When you think of women in fintech we often think of the women who are already in this circle, or have been in the past. When hiring, we’re all looking for that common connection right? This is where we find ourselves looking for talent in the scarce bubble.

Try spreading your fintech education to the wider market, try creating awareness of this sexy industry in layman’s term, no one wants to listen to credit and API…, take the effort to teach our younger generation about this industry before they even get to the point of choosing their subject in University, and most importantly, get more women to speak up about their achievements in the industry and set an example because no achievements is too small to be proud of. “

What is the risk to the fintech industry if it fails to get more women working in the sector and leading companies?

“We all want a diverse mindset to create better products for our diverse customers don’t we? Of course, diversity shouldn’t just simply be about gender, it’s not. But we’ve got to get ourselves in a position to start with baby steps and that begins with encouraging companies to lead by example and show that this difficult challenge can be tackled, then smaller companies will follow. Hiring more women isn’t enough, encouraging and empowering our women to make equally important decisions that drives the company forward is key.“

Sonal Rattan, co-founder and CTO at eXate

Rattan the co-founded and is chief technology officer at data privacy company eXate, a multiple award-winning. She works with clients on automating controls around information sharing, in light of strict data privacy regulations and data localisation laws.  She was previously head of digital assets and the head of EMEA regtech at HSBC.

What is needed to increase the number of women in fintech?

“In my experience, one of the fundamental deterrents from women taking technology roles is the underlying perception that technologists are not equally valued in the businesses – they are seen as an expense and are the first function to be off-shored to a lower cost (and typically lower quality) location. To add to this, technologists are generally not given a fair seat at the table as a part of the decision-making process with respect to running the business.  If you are a woman, it is even more difficult to get a seat at the table.  A part of my journey is to try and get developers recognised as being a part of the business and not as a back-office function. Until technology roles are given greater value and recognition, it will be less of an area that women will be drawn to.”

What is the risk to the fintech industry if it fails to get more women working in the sector and leading companies?

“A simple reason, the industry would collapse if it were hit with man flu”!!!”

Jokes aside she says, “Women think differently to men and there should be a fair and equal balance because technology affects us all. As such, the risk of failing to get more women into the sector is a lack of balanced input and different ideologies resulting in bias and narrow-mindedness. The whole concept for many working in fintech, apart from servicing a particular need in the financial services industry, is to separate themselves from working in traditional financial services firms as they are often male dominated and filled with internal politics. Fintech is an opportunity to hit the restart button and begin with a clean sheet, and in the forefront is the inclusion and acceptance of all individuals from different backgrounds/experiences, regardless of gender, race, religion, etc.”

Catherine Wines on co-founder and director at WorldRemit

Wines co-founded money transfer company WorldRemit in 2010 to, in he words “ disrupt a $700 billion industry.”

What is needed to increase the number of women in fintech?

To increase the number of women in fintech, it needs to start at school and with parents at home. In the 1950s, around 30% to 50%of programmers were women-in contrast to the 20% in large tech firms today. Part of the reason is messaging: UCLA researchers point to the introduction of the home computer as a ‘boy’s toy’ in the 1980s as a factor that pushed more men than women into computer science. To push back on decades of that mentality, the sector must promote diversity at all stages so that women want to develop their career in fintech. Young women need role models: they need to see women in senior STEM roles if we are going to demystify careers in tech and make them more accessible.”

What is the risk to the fintech industry if it fails to get more women working in the sector and leading companies?

“It is crucial that the industry encourages women to enter fintech as research indicates that lack of gender diversity can stifle productivity and limit returns. Diversity in the fintech sector can unlock innovation by creating an environment where outside of the box thinking is heard and encouraged. This is about all types of inclusivity – gender, age, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation. At WorldRemit we believe that diversity in the workforce helps to create a better understanding of our customer base as a global company present in nearly 150 countries worldwide. “

Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, founder and CEO at Akoni

In 2014 Meyerowitz Singh set up Akoni, which gives SMEs a platform that provides functionality normally reserved to large corporate treasury departments. Read a previous interview I did with her here.

What is needed to increase the number of women in fintech?

“Both financial services and tech typically low in diversity.  There are typical periods of time from entrepreneurial life, careers and professional life, studies and school where there are ‘markers’ in understanding the reasons women do not participate as fully as men, with and without children/ family responsibilities.  In addition if women have a different attitude to risk, the reasons for this need to be understood.  There needs to be clearer research into these markers to develop a different framework and response.  The increase in women will need a response across various stage of life, not simply once in the tech sector. “

What is the risk to the fintech industry if it fails to get more women working in the sector and leading companies?

“The sector and the way the world operates is changing rapidly and increasingly creative innovation within a robust and risk controlled delivery framework is critical in fintech. This combination is typically delivered through diverse input. Risks in the event of opportunity costs of not doing something have historically been difficult to measure.   RoI research and analytics on diverse management and boards demonstrates increased returns and increased corporate resilience.”

March 7, 2019  12:29 PM

Nationwide Building Society creating digital platform with fintech 10x

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Nationwide Building Society is planning to launch a current account for small businesses in partnership with fintech 10x Technologies.

A company founded when the Corn Laws were being repealed is remaining relative in the digital age through fintech partnership. Nationwide has invested heavily in tech over the last decade to bring its IT up to date and has not looked back with funky apps and capabilities offered to its customers.

It is now targeting 5.7 million small businesses with an account that will bring the fintech experiences to small business banking. To this end Nationwide has invested £15m in 10x Future Technologies was set up by former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins.

Because Nationwide doesn’t have a business current account, it is building the service from scratch.

The building society has been working with 10x for over six months on ideas around the account. It wants it to be incredibly user friendly. For example the cloud based platform will enable businesses to access their account and associated products and services through both a mobile app and online banking.

Fintech 10x was building a digital bank for Virgin bank until the contract, which had already cost the bank £38m, was scrapped when it was acquired by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Group.

Nationwide CEO Joe Garner said: “Like us, 10x is aiming to massively improve service in financial services and are therefore a natural partner.”

Meanwhile Antony Jenkins, founder of 10x Future Technologies, said: “Nationwide is one of the UK’s most trusted and service-centric brands and our digital delivery team looks forward to supporting the Society in setting new standards in business banking – just as good digitally as it is in branch.”

Lloyds Banking Group is another example of a major traditional bank investing in fintechs to get access to latest technology. It is a shareholder of Thought Machine, which is also supplying it with a cloud based core banking platform.

March 6, 2019  10:22 AM

NatWest fintech loan platform partners Microsoft for data warehouse and AI chatbot

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NatWest SME lending platform Esme Loans has signed a deal with Microsoft which will see the software giant build a cloud based data warehouse to support Esme’s automated decision making.

Esme Loans promises to cut the time it takes to apply for a loan to 10 minutes for SMEs. It offers SMEs loans of up to £150,000 and makes it easier to apply for them by using the latest technology, including application programming interfaces (APIs).

The data warehouse combined with AI will support Esme in meeting its promise of quick decisions on loans. It will also use the resource as part of the development of an artificial intelligence driven chatbot which will answer customer questions on the website.

Since it launched last year Esme Loans has approved over £59m of lending to UK SMEs.

The Microsoft technology will be rolled out from next month. The agreement demonstrates how fintechs focus on what they are good at and will buy-in technology that fall outside this. Traditional banks often build technology platforms themselves which resulted in complexity.

Richard Kerton, CEO and co-founder of Esme Loans, said: “Combined with [Microsoft’s] considerable insight and experience, we’re confident that this new partnership will help us accelerate our growth throughout this year and beyond.”

Wayne Bartlett, head of UK banking at Microsoft said: “By automating processes and applying artificial intelligence it means that Esme can understand their customers better than ever before and will mean that more businesses get access to credit quicker, which in turn helps the overall economy.”

March 5, 2019  11:36 AM

Innovate Finance launches initiative to get teens into fintech

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With fears that UK fintechs will struggle to get the talent they need to compete, fintech industry body Innovate Finance has kicked off an initiative to inspire schoolchildren to become fintech leaders.

Fintech for Schools is an aim to increase fintech the talent pipeline for the future. There will be a particular focus on ensuring the sector is appealing to girls.

“The sector continues to grow rapidly and therefore needs to appeal to a diverse workforce to fill the many exciting opportunities within fintech companies,” said Innovate Finance. “It is therefore important to target secondary school students to inspire them at this crucial point in their lives, as they make decisions between universities or more specialised further education such as apprenticeships.

Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance said: “Fintech is one of the UK’s fastest growing industries and one where we hold a strong competitive advantage. Success is however heavily dependent on talent, which is in short supply both domestically and globally. It is vital that we ensure we are inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, and equipping them with the skills they will need to succeed.”

There are concerns in the sector that available talent could be scarcer as the UK leaves the EU. For example the founder of digital challenger bank Revolut recently called for special visas for fintech professionals so London and the UK don’t lose the best talent to countries like Germany and France.

Michael Kent co- founder and CEO at app based remittance provider Azimo, Tandem Bank said: “Access to talent is a huge and on-going problem – the fintech sector relies heavily on global talent to plug the serious skills gap facing this country.”

Developing local talent is more important than ever as skilled professionals from the EU turn their backs on the UK.
He said he is already seeing young tech workers changing their minds about building their careers in the UK. The affordability, good work life balance and interesting job prospects in other European cities are proving attractive. “Millennial workers are looking at cities like Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam to grow professionally – and they are also attracted to the vibrancy of these hubs and the lower cost of living.”

Shefali Roy, chief operating officer at fintech TrueLayer said to solve the skills shortage problem in the long term policy makers must develop talent from a young age. “Ideas like tech visas may help in the short term, however, we need more substantive reform to education and training to create a greater depth of homegrown talent,” she added.

Innovate Finance, along with 200 of its fintech members, will be hosting a school event to introduce students to financial services and technology. Find out more here.

March 5, 2019  10:12 AM

NatWest launches its baseline open banking feature

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NatWest is the latest bank to launch an open banking feature to its mobile banking app that allows customers to see their account information at other banks.

Account aggregation services, as these features are known, are becoming the baseline developments for banks responding to the Open Banking and PSDII regulations.

The Accounts with Other Banks option means customers that have accounts at 15 other UK banks can view all their activity through the NatWest mobile app. The bank said it only takes a few minutes to set up.

In February customers at Lloyds Bank and Halifax can now see all their current accounts, regardless of which bank they are with, through their mobile banking app following an the addition of open banking-enabled functionality.

Account aggregation the first phase of open banking take-up

In May last year line HSBC launched an app that enables users to see accounts from 21 different banks in one place

David Bannister, analyst at Ovum, said the first year of open banking hasn’t been that dramatic, as banks and fintechs rolled out minimum-level services to comply with the regulations, such as account aggregation apps.

But he added that these services, in retail banking, will lead to more advisory services.

Indeed NatWest said this is the first in a series of new features, on the back of open banking with developments around helping customers better manage their money, improve their financial wellbeing and achieve their long-term ambitions, planned.

Frans Woelders, chief digital officer, at NatWest personal banking, said: “[Accounts with Other Banks] is an important step in our mission to transform our digital services, focusing on digital innovation and using the latest open banking technology, to help make people’s banking lives easier. This feature is the first in a number of innovations we are working on to help customers manage their money more effectively and improve their financial wellbeing.”

March 1, 2019  2:34 PM

Yoyo on its way up: Fintech interview part 17

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Yoyo, which combines payments, loyalty and marketing on a single mobile app, was the brainchild of Michael Rolph and fellow founders, Dave Nicholson and Alain Falys,  after they saw a gap in the market for a platform that offered this combination.

Rolph who has worked extensively in the payments industry  was the person that gave VocaLink’s mobile payments capability the name Zapp, for example.

A few years ago he was witnessing the mobile phone becoming the centre of people’s lives, and was surprised nobody was building an infrastructure to support payments, loyalty programmes and marketing on mobiles.

In 2013, to change this, he set up Yoyo with the two other founders, one of which, Nicholson, co-founded the world’s first peer to peer lending platform Zopa.

It was time to test the idea and the first port of call for the team was looking for potential customers.   The founders approached Imperial College in London, where they believed their idea would be attractive. This provd to be the case. “We positioned our concepts to them and they basically agreed to become our first customer,” said Rolph.

With a customer in line but no product Yoyo had to build the platform, which involved raising money. “We raised £800,000 seed round investment on the back of a PowerPoint presentation,” added Rolph.

It then created a team of developers and had its first product for market in November 2013. The Yoyo app connects to the user’s bank account and the phone, which can be used to pay for things. Through the app it also automates loyalty points, receipts and enables users to receive information on promotions

This was soon used in Imperial College’s Sir Alexander Fleming Café, where it allowed students to pay for things and automatically receive a digital stamp as part of a loyalty programme, as well as a receipt.

Rolph said: “We launched what was the Starbucks experience to a degree.”

In a short time, by January 2014, Yoyo was rolled out across the entire Imperial College estate and within 4 weeks it had about 3,500 students signed up. “At the time cash was 95% of its transactions and it wanted to get rid of cash so they employed us to help them  do this,” said Rolph.

It next went to Westminster and Greenwich universities and today Yoyo is now live at about 60% of the UK’s universities.

But it is not just live at universities but also corporate head offices.  For example at JP Morgan in Canary Wharf London about 6,500 people use Yoyo for the canteen. Its total number of users is around 1.5 million.

The university and corporate customers are mainly using the app in relation to catering, but Yoyo is also on the high street. “Using the same platform we can provider retailers with the same functionality but with their own brand name on it,” said Rolph.

Café Nero’s platform is for example powered by Yoyo. But it is not one size fits all customers with the platform enabling to offer unique experiences on top of the core platform.

Yoyo integrates into the point of sales system of its customers and, according to Rolph, all they need to do is market what customers can now get.

Yoyo currently has about 75 staff but is in the process of increasing to 90. Two thirds of the company are engineers. “We are a real technology business,” said Rolph. “We have a data science team and are applying machine learning to make recommendations.”

Yoyo is mainly in the UK but it will go where its customers are.

Yoyo makes its money through monthly service fees an also a fee is charged for payments.

Read the previous fintech interviews

Part 16 Bud, Part 15 PrevisePart 14 FinastraPart 13 InstaReMPart 12 EucapsPart 11 AimBrainPart 10 MenigaPart 9 TrueLayerPart 8 InvestCloudPart 7 ClauseMatchPart 6 Rebuilding Society, Part 5 HonchoPart 4 AkoniPart 3 WriskPart 2 CreditLadderPart 1 Taina Technology

February 27, 2019  2:23 PM

Substantive reform to education needed to address the skills gap blighting fintechs

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

In a blog post earlier this week I got feedback from a number of finetchs about comments made by Revolut founder Nikolay Storonsky about the need for a special visa for skilled workers post Brexit.

Something has to be done as attracting talent, which is one of the biggest challenges facing fintechs in any country, could become a lot more challenging after Brexit.

For example, according to one fintech I contacted skilled EU workers are already looking elsewhere to build their careers. Furthermore professionals from EU that are already in the UK are considering their futures.

I was also told by some fintechs that it is the tech part of fintech where the skills shortages in the UK are most prominant. Areas like data science and artificial intelligence are examples.

I have since received more comment on the subject, so wanted to share it. So on the subject of the tech within fintech one company that finds itself in that category is financial API provider TrueLayer.

Shefali Roy, chief operating officer at the fintech,said there really isn’t a single policy that will solve the skills gap. “Ideas like tech visas may help in the short term, however, we need more substantive reform to education and training to create a greater depth of homegrown talent.”

She said the education system can’t keep up with the changing needs of the tech industry. “For example, there is currently a huge demand for data scientists, however, it will take many years for a new crop to go through our universities to meet this demand.”

She said even when there are enough people to fill these gaps there will be a new sector crying out for a different set of skills, so education and training institutions need to get better at anticipating future demand.

“They need to get more people into STEM subjects and create courses that have broader skill sets that will make people more adaptable. On a more fundamental level, young people need much better careers advice so they can understand the opportunities within the tech sector.”

But she added that the skills challenge is not new but Brexit has added uncertainty which makes recruitment more difficult now.

“The tech skills gap has been an issue for as long as there has been a startup scene in the UK. Indeed, it is a problem that nearly every tech hub in the world is dealing with.

“The biggest difficulty at the moment is uncertainty. While we know London is always going to be one of Europe’s leading tech centres – whatever the firmness of the Brexit deal – it is naturally difficult for people to make long term career decisions without knowing exactly what is going to happen,” she said.  “As a result, I think recruitment is probably harder now than it will be after Brexit.”

But she added that the tech industry, more than any other sector, is built on the ability to adapt to changing conditions and trends. “If there is a further shrinking of the talent pool post-Brexit, we will adapt our approach to ensure we can continue our rapid growth.”

February 26, 2019  11:24 AM

Brexit self-harm means London no longer the Holy Land for all fintech talent

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The founder of digital challenger bank Revolut is calling for special visas for fintech professionals so London and the UK don’t lose the best talent to countries like Germany and France.

We already know that tech hubs across Europe are eating into London’s share of venture capital investment, but the battle for talent is as and arguably more important.

Nikolay Storonsky is reported as saying: “With all of the political uncertainty kicking off right now, lengthy immigration processes and bureaucracy will only slow down the UK fintech industry’s growth, and we risk losing out on the best talent to other EU countries such as Germany and France.”

At such a critical time in the whole Brexit mess I put Storonsky’s views to a group of UK fintechs to see what they thought.

Michael Kent founder and CEO at app based remittance provider Azimo, which is based in London, agrees that there is a shortage of UK talent. “Access to talent is a huge and on-going problem – the fintech sector relies heavily on global talent to plug the serious skills gap facing this country.”

He says he is already seeing young tech workers changing their minds about building their careers in the UK.  The affordability, good work life balance and interesting job prospects in other European cities are proving attractive. “Millennial workers are looking at cities like Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam to grow professionally – and they are also attracted to the vibrancy of these hubs and the lower cost of living.”

Azimo has 135 employees and about 85% of these are not from the UK, most of which are from EU countries.

The stakes are high. Kent says there’s always a concern that EU workers and those from further afield will choose to live elsewhere if London and the UK doesn’t have the right business conditions to attract the best talent. “We need to ensure we continue to maintain a good environment for businesses while also making people feel welcomed to build lives here.”

The best solution, one shared by many, would be to cancel Brexit says Kent who said there should be more recognition of ”the huge contributions that migrants make to the economic health and entrepreneurial vibrancy of the UK.” The perceived problems that led people to vote Brexit were conjured by politicians through negative rhetoric about immigrant workers.

He agreed with Storonsky that the Government should create a fast track digital skills visa, “to ensure that foreign workers can continue to come to the UK without endless bureaucratic obstacles.”

Gavin Sewell CEO at Insurtech Honcho, which is based in North East England, said the challenges attracting talent go beyond London.

“We have a strong fintech industry not only in London, but across the rest of the UK, and the challenges faced in London are also faced, and perhaps to a greater extent, across the rest of the UK. For example, in the North East we have shining lights such as Atom Bank.”

“Whilst I share some of Storonsky’s concerns, I am not sure they are quite the same concerns. I do believe we have a serious shortage of homegrown technology talent across the full spectrum of technology disciplines in the UK.”

He said there are shortages in people from the tech side of fintech with demand for experts in areas including data science, APIs, machine learning and artificial intelligence high.

But he does not see the same shortage today of talent in the ‘fin’ element of fintech. “The UK (and admittedly London) has long been the global leader in financial services with ‘The City’ providing a huge contribution to the GDP of the UK. The talent that exists in that sector is enormous and is the starting point for much of the fintech growth in the UK.”

However he said they do encounter difficulties finding the tech talented needed to realise their ambitions. “This is where we as a country need to be very careful not to interrupt the flow of technology talent from abroad.”

He would also welcome a special visa system. “I would very much like to see a simple and quick talent and demand related visa system implemented post Brexit that will allow UK technology businesses to quickly and easily hire talent from abroad (EU and rest of world equally) where they are unable to fill those roles locally. This is an absolute must for me and I am therefore concerned about recruitment post Brexit if the right kind of visa system is not implemented.”

Andrius Sutas, CEO and co-founder, at biometric identity management software supplier AimBrain agrees that the shortage is particularly pronounced  in computer sciences such as machine learning, AI and robotics. “Despite having some of the world’s best universities in the UK, competition for top tier talent continues to be brutal.”

Just over half of AimBrain’s workforce is from outside of the UK, with the majority from other EU countries.

Sutas said he is always concerned about recruitment and added that the current political instability is not helping overcome the technical skills shortage.

“The routes into tech careers are getting much clearer and more inclusive, which will help in the long term,” he says. “However, the government didn’t spot the skills gap until too late and so ‘fixes’ like specialist tech visas could help in the short term.”

Training people in the UK is an option to address the shortage. Evgeny Shadchnev, CEO of software bootcamp Makers, says the talent is here but needs to nurtured and trained. “So the shortage is due to the fact that we aren’t reaching out effectively to provide workers with the skills they require to enter the fintech sector,” he says.

He added that underrepresented sections of the population – especially women, need to be reached if skills gaps are to be closed. “The gender gap in the skills sector has increased over the years – despite efforts to attract more females into software coding and other digital careers.”

“This has nothing to do with Brexit and everything to do with our societal bias and overall lack of support for women to enter the digital workforce.”

But he added that if Brexit makes it difficult for talent to come here then it will be difficult for his company to scale up and grow.

“We are concerned about recruitment post Brexit, but we see more opportunities to support the talent we already have here in the UK,” says Shadchnev. Makers has for example introduced an apprenticeship scheme that is funded by the government’s Apprenticeship Levy scheme, in which large organisations pay 0.5% of their costs into a kitty that can then be spent on training courses offered by registered providers. It offers training for people to get the software coding skills that businesses need so that they can start employment in the digital sector the moment they graduate.

To help address the problems he says the government should make coding lessons compulsory in the classroom. “We should encourage mentorship programmes for students to inspire them to pursue digital careers.”

It is not just the finance providers that are already seeing a reduction in EU candidates. According to Shadchnev the numbers of students from other EU countries coming to the UK has been falling since the Brexit referendum. “In the past about a third of our students have come from the EU, but that number has dropped since the Brexit debacle kicked off.”

If you are a fintech with views on this, please add your comments.

February 25, 2019  2:03 PM

Fidor bank future clearer next month as split from BCPE nears

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

The future of Fidor bank is set to become much clearer next month as the company enters the last mile of the process of decoupling from BCPE.

In November it was revealed that French banking giant BCPE was selling Fidor, the challenger bank which it acquired In July 2016.

CEO Matthias Kröner told me that the split is close. “We are entering the last mile. We will have a clear understanding of our future in March,” he said.

The story was significant as it demonstrated one of the routes the big traditional banks re considering to become digital, and of course the challenges in doing so. The fact that the end of the relationship has already been announced suggests that it is difficult for a large traditional bank to take over and integrate a challenger, digital bank, without watering down its advantages.

Fidor, which was launched in Germany in 2009. It went on to gain a banking licence in the UK in 2016, was an early challenger bank. It quickly gained momentum, through its disruptive tech driven business model, before being acquired by BPCE.

It will be interest to see who takes over Fidor. Whether this be another big bank or a fintech investor.

One source said BCPE never really had a strategy on how to take Fidor forward.

BCPE is the result of a merger of two centuries old French banks, and as a result its culture was not able to truly integrate a company like Fidor.

There could be more big banks taking over digital challengers this year. Sky News recently named Spanish bank BBVA, which invested heavily in UK focused Atom last year, as potentially looking to take over the mobile app based bank.

February 21, 2019  12:22 PM

Nearly a third of UK tech startups are setting up presence in mainland Europe because of Brexit

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

In its latest Startup Outlook report Silicon Valley Bank has revealed that 28% of UK startups plan to open an office in mainland Europe, as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Meanwhile three quarters of the surveyed group said that Brexit will have a negative impact on the UK innovation economy.

There was some apparent good news in the report but not necessarily for the UK. It found that 81% of UK startups were planning to increase their staff. But how many of these will be UK based?

Also 72% raised capital last year, which is great news for startups but there is no guarantee the money will be invested in the UK, with investment in mainland EU already decided for many..

The prospects of further investment is not guaranteed. If you look at the latest numbers from London & Partners. In 2017/18 venture capitalist investment in UK tech companies plummeted from £2.53bn in 2017 to £1.8bn in 2018. Pretty bad when you think that in every year before last year had grown steeply with a doubling of investment from 2016 to 2017. (read more here)

Aside from the risk of the UK tech startup sector being less attractive to VCs, the potential shortage of access to talent is a major concern for tech firms.

In fact according to the Silicon Valley survey this is the biggest concern for the 75% that think Brexit will have a negative impact. “As Brexit discussions continue, 75 percent of UK entrepreneurs surveyed fear that leaving the EU would have a negative effect on the innovation economy in the UK, and their greatest public policy concern is a lack of access to talent,” said Erin Platts, Head of Relationship Banking, Europe at Silicon Valley Bank.

The survey also revealed that for 81%UK startups say that access to talent is the most important public policy issue they face. One in three respondents also said that finding talent is extremely challenging.

When I talk to fintechs access to talent is always either their biggest challenge or second biggest, if funding is more important for some.


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