Fintech. A Priority Sector. And Potential World-Leader?

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Sectors

When Cardiff Capital Region made ‘Fintech’ a Priority Sector, it did more than acknowledge the fact that financial technology drives the way Wales and the world saves, pays, invests, borrows, budgets and transfers its money. It recognised that the UK’s position as a global Fintech leader – and South East Wales’ recent development as home to a growing fintech ecosystem – has created a potential catalyst for the region to establish a truly world-class cluster, serving one of the highest-value sectors on the planet.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking to shine a light on the fintech sector here in CCR, uncovering key insights into the companies, communities, partnerships and personalities that make it one of one the most fascinating industries in our region.  In this our first article of the series, we examine the conditions for success that fintech in our region currently enjoys – and look at the benefits they can bring…

Economically important with a high-performing GVA. 

The latest data from Whitecap and the CCR shows that, outside London, the Cardiff Capital Region Fintech cluster is amongst the top Fintech hotspots in the UK – with the highest density of Fintech activity shown by GVA per capita and ratio of people employed in the sector. Within the Cardiff Capital Region itself, Fintech employees deliver in excess of £10k extra GVA over and above the regional average. The GVA of specific Fintech activity is estimated at over £500m per annum, or nearly £2bn if we factor in Financial Services companies who are adopting Fintech within their business activities.

“One of the top Fintech regions in the UK, contributing up to £2 billion to the CCR economy”    

Set to flourish from a firm foundation.

There’s an established Fintech ecosystem here in the CCR, clustered around Cardiff and the Newport-Pontypool corridor – with the potential to become renowned globally for our fintech sector.

This cluster is already home to 3 of Europe’s top 5 online insurance aggregators and if we look at the companies who deliver financial products and services through technology – be it a business based primarily around fintech-enabled financial services (e.g. an aggregator like Go Compare) or, an FS company that adopts Fintech as a part of its offering (e.g. an insurer such as Admiral) – it’s clear that we have a defined cluster of fintech communities, business models, organisations, best practices, products, services and relevant technologies that stretch much further and wider than ‘just’ insurtech.   

 “Being clustered brings potential to build a fintech ecosystem of global repute”

There are some high-profile examples of Welsh Government support for Fintech and Fintech-related companies in the region – including the £140k investment in Optimum Credit to expand and create 23 new jobs and LDMS receiving £651,000 to support its Cardiff HQ and create up to 80 jobs. Of the FinTech companies that are located, or at least have a presence in the region it’s estimated that across all their operations £700m has already been raised with private capital investment. Those companies include Active Quote, ANNA Money, Lip-sync, Coin cover, Counting Up, Currency Cloud, Delia, Disberse, Hodge, Myinpad, Pension the Pennies, Sapiens (UK) Insurance Software Solutions, Senseforth, Sonovate, W2 Global Data Solutions, Twist2Pay, Wealthify and Yoello – as well as the two oft-quoted ‘marquee investments’ in Monzo Bank and Starling Bank.

A valuable – and fast-growing – employer.

More than 5,000 people in Wales are currently employed in a role that directly generates revenue in Fintech – and a wider 15,700 employee population working for financial service enterprises that are adopting fintech to deliver their product or service. Some of those skills are the ‘usual suspects’ – such as Java, which is very much a stalwart of software development – but the skills matrix also shows continual and growing demand for everything from data storage and analysis through to cloud-based architectures and more modern coding languages.

“A 15,700 employee population, with wide-ranging skillsets” 

The lessons from other clusters is that here in the Cardiff Capital Region, we will need to build our own ‘native’ talent pipeline of skills to fulfil the growing demand, as well as attracting more skillsets from outside the region, to meet our short, mid and long-term needs – providing a potentially valuable win-win collaboration with FE and HE colleges across the region.

An innovative partner with business and academia.

Win-win collaboration is critical if Wales is to build resilience, build back better, level up, scale up and achieve inclusive growth. Both younger and more established Fintech’s have embraced the importance of partnering wherever possible with other businesses and academic institutions that can add value.

“Win-win collaboration is critical if Wales is to build resilience  and build back better”

This cooperation can range from complimentary offerings that evolve a product or service, to sharing of platforms and customer bases – and even the ‘omnichannel-on-steroids’ approach adopted by online banks such as Monzo and Starling, where third parties can offer their services as part of the customer experience, building a more integrated way of managing finances, insurance, energy, etc. Admiral, GoCompare.com, Confused.com and CurrencyCloud all rank highly as intelligent exploiters of a partnered approach – and other means of partnering with academia for research and skills supply are also being embraced, with dozens of Fintech’s engaging with The Centre for Financial and Professional Services, University of South Wales, Cardiff University Data Innovation Accelerator and National Software Academy, the CCR Graduate Scheme, the University of South Wales CEMET, the Welsh Contact Centre Forum Graduate Scheme, and Cardiff Met and the Open University funded apprenticeships.

A global voice in Fintech. 

FinTech Wales was established in 2019 to raise the awareness of the thriving fintech ecosystem in Wales: focusing on having the right skills in place and supporting this vibrant community to start-up, scale and grow. CCR works closely with Fintech Wales to support their vision of establishing Wales as a rapidly emerging pillar of the global Fintech Economy, investing in their activities to engage with both Fintech entrepreneurs and innovators looking to launch their business in Wales, as well as nurturing and supporting those companies already here in the region.

“Supporting this vibrant community to start-up, scale and grow, establishing Wales as a rapidly emerging pillar of the global Fintech Economy”

Over the next few weeks we will be running a series of insights into Fintech in Wales – exploring the emerging vision, strategy and roadmap for fintech in the region, detailing the motivation and performance of the different types of companies who make up the cluster – and finding out what core actions are in place to make tangible significant progress, by showcasing the leadership and innovation that pervades the sector and looking at what’s being done to attract, retain and develop the talent needed to power this cluster.

Each article will explore a different dimension of the sector – and each will make a call for the views of all stakeholders involved. That platform for your voice starts in our next feature, where we spotlight the work being done by FinTech Wales to help shape and drive the sector here in Cardiff Capital Region.

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