A year ago, I wrote about how Scotland’s fintech potential could be unlocked, and the opportunities offered by a fledgling industry. Now that fledgling is set to soar.
FinTech Scotland is up and running, led by a passionate and energetic advocate in its chief executive, Stephen Ingledew. He has set an ambitious target to get Scotland into the top five global fintech hubs. It’s a big ask, but the momentum, willpower and skill are there.
CLICK HERE: to read a PDF of The Scotsman’s fintech supplement
Ingledew sees one of his central roles as a coach, to get all the constituent parts of FinTech Scotland pulling together to ensure the best result.
That teamwork has not always been as strong as it needs to be, especially in collaboration between large financial institutions and exciting young fintech businesses.
One commentator said the banks used to see young fintechs as piranhas, circling and waiting for their lunch.
Things have changed. Royal Bank of Scotland’s purchase of FreeAgent is a sign that the big banks understand the need to work with bright young businesses – or to take them under their wing.
These mutually beneficial relationships can solve some of the problems of the financial system (fin) using new and innovative technology (tech). In a nutshell, that is what fintech is all about – but it can’t and won’t succeed without the broader fintech community getting involved.
This includes the universities, who are increasingly creating interesting courses to deliver fresh talent into the sector, and the Scottish Government and its agencies. It also includes the software and advisory businesses working to help bright young businesses and established financial services firms to find those solutions and deliver them. It is interesting to read on Page 14 about Kent Mackenzie’s ideas on how everything can come together to create that successful community – or ecosystem – and the idea that there is a global blueprint for success.
It is exciting to hear Scotland being mentioned in the same breath as Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and other centres of fintech excellence – but it is also realistic.
With our emerging excellence in data science, added to our superb financial services heritage and world-class universities, Scotland has a chance to be a global fintech success story.
Big challenges lie ahead – especially concerning security and trust with new fintech products and the use of data.
This supplement describes the huge opportunities presented by open banking and access to data in terms of making more informed decisions – but unless progress and innovation is accompanied by security and trust, the game’s a bogey.
However, I am convinced that fintech in Scotland can rise to the challenges and continue on that journey to become a global force.
The Scotsman will support that journey all the way. This supplement is the start of a fintech series, including online articles and videos, fintech “explainers” and a panel discussion at the University of Strathclyde Business School, see details left.
There is much to be excited about. Let’s maintain the momentum that we have created because Scotland has a chance to lead the way in fintech. Let’s seize the day.
Frank O’Donnell is editorial director of The Scotsman.