FinTech founders warn UK risks leader status

The UK’s FinTech founders have warned that the UK could lose its place as a global FinTech leader.

The Digital Finance Forum surveyed 50 founders of UK FinTech firms to assess their levels of optimism around the sector’s growth prospects in the UK. In addition to Brexit-related concerns, nearly half said that the rules applying to Open Banking should extend to sectors including insurance and utilities, as the Open Data trend picks up pace.

A total of 63 per cent said the UK is a global leader in the development of FinTech, but only a third said this will still be in five years.

Fears over the impact of Brexit are at the root of this pessimistic outlook for more than two thirds of respondents, who said they were either worried or extremely worried about the consequences for their business of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

This uncertainty centred around hiring practices, with 61 per cent saying they would find it difficult to hire “enough good people” with a particular focus on “hiring engineering and product professions”. Visa regulations after Brexit are a worry, with two thirds of founders saying they would like to see the government improve the Visa system to make hiring from abroad a smoother process.

In addition, a drying up of capital could threaten the UK’s dominant status on the UK’s FinTech scene.

The technology industry as a whole also needs further representation, with almost half of those surveyed calling for a secretary of state for technology to be installed at cabinet level to advocate for the industry and reduce the need for the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport and the Treasury to share responsibility for the UK’s tech sector.

Christian Faes, chair of the Digital Finance Forum and chief executive of LendInvest, said: "The UK must not be complacent about being the world leader in FinTech – and there’s definitely a feeling from founders, as revealed through this survey, that this threatens to be the case.

“There is clearly an opportunity with the new government to make the fintech sector a priority again.”

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