How can Scotland create a world class fintech hub?

Singapore is a leader in fintech innovation. Picture: Getty
Singapore is a leader in fintech innovation. Picture: Getty
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If Scotland is to create a world-leading fintech hub that delivers tangible wide-ranging consumer benefits, who can we learn most from?

Georgina Bulkeley, Director of Strategy & Innovation, Personal Banking, RBS: “Established financial institutions globally are recognising the threat posed to revenues and customers by new entrants into banking. They need to reinvent themselves and partner with fintechs and move into more disruptive technology and business models to transform themselves into digital competitors. The majority of large established financial institutions are starting to embrace this change but a number stand out for the pace and degree to which they are implementing digital solutions for the benefit of customers. Success will be the best possible solutions for customers to make their banking “effortless everyday and brilliant when it matters” – that is the vision we have for Personal Banking at RBS/Natwest.

San Francisco. Picture: Wikimedia

San Francisco. Picture: Wikimedia

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“Three examples stand out for me in fintech specifically: DBS; Ant Financial; and Royal Bank of Canada.

“DBS positions itself as a frontrunner in digital transformation with innovation embedded in its DNA. It seeks to deliver simple, seamless and invisible banking, with the strap line “Live More, Bank Less.” It launched digital “disrupter” banks in India and Indonesia and has signed up more than 2.6 million people by using fingerprint recognition to match them against biometric national identity cards. On Biometrics, RBS/Natwest launched the UK’s first Biometric debit card which is now in trial with 300 customers.

“DBS also launched Startup Xchange – a programme designed to exclusively match the bank’s problem statements to fintech start-ups, sourcing the best and most suitable start-ups to co-create solutions with the bank on a continuous basis. This provides mutually beneficial solutions for both the start-ups and the bank ultimately for the benefit of DBS customers.

“RBS/Natwest have a global scouting team which help us find the best start-ups to solve the key customers challenges which the businesses have identified. We also work with Motive Partners to look at global perspectives on common customer challenges.”

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Stephen Ingledew, Chief Executive, FinTech Scotland: "We can learn and collaborate from a number of other global fintech centres in key areas.

“In terms of encouraging entrepreneurial activity, Singapore has over 30 innovation and fintech labs which play a major role in encouraging new entrepreneurial enterprises to consider creative ways to help delver financial services using new technologies and data. Scotland has some examples of this and new labs being developed but more could be done to increase the number.

“Boston is a leader in developing data fintech sandboxes. It offers a six-month programme that gives access to data feeds and APIs from leading industry partners . The proposed Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence will help this in Scotland, but the financial sector needs to fully support it.

“On Government support in driving financial inclusion through fintech, India has made big strides in banking and other areas such as insurance and investment. Scotland can also make huge steps forward and support the inclusive growth objectives but it needs a concerted drive from key policy-makers (as in India) to impact people’s day-to-day lives

“Finally, we need, big financial institutions to really embrace collaboration opportunities with fintech firms. In Switzerland, there is a strong embracing of new technologies to reinvent financial services at the cutting edge, with strong support for collaboration. We also see this in Scotland, but it needs to be at a higher level of scale.”

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Chris Brown, Senior Consultant, Deloitte: “‘Great’ is something defined very differently in fintech hubs around the world – there is no perfect location for fintech. If the number of fintech unicorns is your measure of success, San Francisco is the place to go. In terms of eminence, Singapore is home to the world’s largest fintech conference - the Singapore Fintech Festival. If you’re looking for hubs with progressive regulations and support for start-ups, the UK (including Scotland) is the standout, with others fast approaching. Each of these areas, as well as others such as level of funding, play a crucial role in developing a world leading fintech hub.”