A National Hub for Fintech excellence will formally launch at an event in Leeds today, seeking to boost the sector’s growth and helping it to achieve truly global scale.
The Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) is the first of its kind in the world and is backed by £5.5 million of Treasury and City of London Corporation funding.
This new body seeks to build on the dominance of the UK’s fintech sector – that supports around 2,500 firms, tens of thousands of jobs in the UK, and is second globally only to the US for fintech investment – powering ahead of economic behemoths such as China and India.
It will provide a much-needed boost to people and businesses up and down the country, enabling them to benefit from new waves of technological change and innovation – widening consumer choice, cutting costs, and increasing efficiency for firms.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Griffith said: “The UK is a world-leading location for fintech growth and investment – it’s a real British success story and one that’s spread across the whole UK. Today’s launch of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology doubles down on this, boosting prosperity and investment in exciting cities for growth and innovation such as Leeds.
“It’s also great to see the UK Infrastructure Bank delivering on its mission to invest in the clean energy revolution and on much needed infrastructure – using its £22 billion of taxpayers’ money to help communities across the UK.”
Charlotte Crosswell OBE, Chair of CFIT, said: “The launch of CFIT today represents a significant moment for the UK’s fintech sector and our economy more widely. This organisation will enable us to come together as a sector to start breaking down barriers that the fintech sector is facing while creating a clear path for our homegrown fintech companies to achieve global scale, impact and success. Today’s announcement marks an important first step in our work supporting the growth and development of the UK fintech sector by empowering its talented innovators and trailblazers in every corner of the country.”
“I am thrilled to see the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) – one of the key recommendations of the 2021 Kalifa Review – launch in Leeds today.” Ron Kalifa, Chairman of Network International and author of the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, comments, “The Centre will be instrumental in fostering collaboration between industry, academia and policymakers, promoting innovation, and turbo-charging the adoption of new technologies for businesses and consumers. I have no doubt that it will enable the UK’s fintech sector to become more competitive, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have across the UK in the weeks, months and years to come.”
The Centre has been established in response to Ron Kalifa’s Review into UK fintech. Since this report was published in 2021, government has been working across industry and regulators to deliver on the recommendations, including introducing a fast-track visa system for fintech scale ups, implementing an FCA scale box allowing innovators to trial new products, and reforming our listings regime to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s dominant capital markets hotspot.
At launch event CFIT will announce new coalitions of experts from across finance, technology, academia and policy-making. They will focus on helping fintechs achieve truly global scale, building on the UK’s recent success which saw the UK grow from two ‘unicorn’ firms (over $1 billion valuation) in 2020, to today where we have more than 20 – almost half of all the fintech unicorns in Europe.
CFIT will announce the establishment of financial innovation hubs with comprehensive reach across the UK’s nations and regions – including in key growth centres such as Leeds. The city has seen enormous fintech growth since 2020, with its number of fintech firms more than doubling to 107, and valuation of firms doubling to reach £710 million – supporting over 7,500 jobs.
CFIT’s Chair Charlotte Crosswell will also announce a range of new partnerships she and her team have agreed to support CFIT’s growth ambitions. Further details on these new partnerships, and which areas will be established as innovation hubs will be set out at the event.
Ahead of the launch, the Economic Secretary, Andrew Griffith MP, will be visiting the UK Infrastructure Bank’s (UKIB) site in Leeds, where he will officially open expanded office space for UKIB staff, as they gear up to take on around 280 staff. The Bank currently has around 180 staff, with an increasing number of permanent employees.
Since its introduction 20 months ago, the bank has announced ten significant investments in sectors ranging from solar energy to fibre broadband, and has crowded in £4.6 billion of private finance in the process.
The City of London Corporation Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, said: “The UK’s fintech sector is a true British success story. The launch of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) today will help to maintain our dominant position globally. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with CFIT to further unleash the potential of this sector.”
UK Infrastructure Bank CEO, John Flint said: “The fact we are anchored in Leeds is a key part of our identity. It aligns with our mission to drive up regional and local economic growth. It also makes us part of a growing movement, with many other significant organisations – for example, Channel 4, the Financial Conduct Authority, and the National Infrastructure Commission – establishing or expanding bases here. I am grateful to the Minister for helping us to mark this milestone, as we expand our presence in the city.”
Today’s announcements deliver on the Chancellor’s ambition for the UK to become a technology superpower, as set out recently in his Bloomberg speech. And they deliver on the Prime Minister’s five priorities, helping to grow the economy.