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Friday, November 24, 2017

Anne Head CEO of Starling Bank
Opinion > Starling | Fintech

Embracing the future of fintech

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank | 16:58 Wednesday 23rd August 2017

There has been much hum and haw over the future of fintech in the UK.

Some post-Brexit woes forecasted a fintech migration to other emerging European tech cities, others believed that the UK may start fostering a similar culture as the US, where recently loosened regulation aims to bolster fintech entrepreneurialism.

For Starling, expanding into Europe through a banking passport into Ireland, we’re very conscious of these changes. We’re aware of the potential challenges we may face as a UK fintech business.

However, I remain adamant that London holds the key to fintech prosperity.
But this will only be possible as long as the UK maintains our much-lauded regulatory landscape.

Sympathetic regulators in the UK have spawned fertile ground on which myriad fintech start-ups have emerged, sanctioning rapidly growing competitiveness. Competitiveness encourages innovation, something I believe to be paramount to fintech success.

It would be unjust to argue that innovation is a London-centric phenomenon, however, the city itself has a time-honoured vibrant and entrepreneurial pulse, which has contributed in making London the world centre for financial services.

The UK’s unique openness between enterprise and regulator – coupled with the eagerness of consumers to adopt to new technology – will make it difficult for other cities to contend. Furthermore, London provides outstanding access to a highly skilled and ever-growing workforce, who are motivated and enticed by the city’s repute.

The city combines the start-up culture of Silicon Valley with the investor willingness of New York and the regulatory innovation of Europe. It has the talent, the money, the momentum.

Moreover, as part of the EU, the UK has had the advantage of benefiting from PSD1 and PSD2. They have been the driving force behind the rise of mainstream fintech challengers and significant progress in finance such as the open banking initiative.

Looking forward, we have to wonder what, say, PSD3 will hold and whether we will suffer from not being included in EU regulatory discussions after Brexit.

Starling Bank and our mobile-banking peers exist because of EU regulation. Before now, the innovation we’re seeing would not have been possible.

We’re raising the bar for what banks need to deliver, creating and raising customer expectations, and, above all, by bringing competition to finance. London brings together the right people, the right culture, the regulatory environment and, most importantly, entrepreneurship.

So, while I remain optimistic about the future of fintech in London, there are some precautionary considerations to be made. Naturally, Brexit is among those considerations that could potentially impede on the UK’s relationship with the EU.

We must be realistic in our expectations of future legislation and regulation following the UK’s decision to exit the EU and its effect on the sustainability of fintech.

That being said, I am equally wary that conjectures can be harmful to business prosperity.

It is pivotal to be open-minded about what the future may hold, yet in many instances I see companies allowing predictions to shape the development of their business.

This is ill-advised, but understandable.

We need to accept that there is no safeguard guide to the future of fintech. It is our responsibility as innovators in the fintech community to shape its future, not vice versa.

We must all continue to innovate and extrapolate according to our customer needs in light of what the future may bring. This, I believe, is the essence of sustainable business and sustainable industry.

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