Comment: Scottish fintech spearheading bold initiatives

Yvonne Dunn, partner and financial services technology specialist at law firm Pinsent Masons. Picture: Contributed
Yvonne Dunn, partner and financial services technology specialist at law firm Pinsent Masons. Picture: Contributed
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The UK fintech sector is centred around London but other major cities including Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Bristol, are vying to be recognised as the second hub for this disruptive industry that is changing the way we conduct almost every financial transaction in our personal and business lives.

Scotland is pulling ahead of many competitors, and key to this has been the establishment of FinTech Scotland, which is driving initiatives aimed at growing Scottish businesses and attracting new start-ups, funders and major stakeholders to Scotland.

Established by the Scottish Government, the financial services sector and the University of Edinburgh, FinTech Scotland is formulating a national strategy that will place Scotland in prime position to leverage the economic and social benefits of data-driven fintech innovation. Fintech is disrupting global markets, it is a growth industry with massive potential, and it is an emerging sector in which Scotland has an opportunity to play a key role. Scotland has a lot to offer fintech – large financial services institutions are already established here, we have a culture of entrepreneurism and our universities send to the market top-rated computer science every year. Organisations such as Scottish Financial Enterprise have been spearheading the growth of fintech in Scotland and great progress has already been made.

The established financial services players are receptive to the fintech revolution: they recognise that it is pointless to try to hold back the tide, and rather it is better to engage and collaborate with fintechs. Both bring great things to collaboration, the established players understand how to work within the regulatory regime and have strong brands and customer trust, and the fintechs bring fresh ideas and agility, being less burdened by legacy technology and are less risk averse. One of the areas in which FinTech Scotland will undoubtedly want to assist is in access to funding. Start-up fintechs face the same kind of challenges as most tech businesses – seed money is not hard to come by but it is much more difficult to secure financial support in the middle years of a company’s growth - before reaching the stage where a flotation can propel the business to the next level. Attracting funding and encouraging investors to look beyond London will be important.

Pinsent Masons has been in the vanguard of the fintech revolution and recently published a special report on Open Banking which could revolutionise how consumers engage with financial products and services.

Therefore, we were delighted to recently be appointed as a global strategic partner to FinTech Scotland and as a board member of this fintech sector enabler. We are looking forward to deploying our skills and experience to help develop a strategy that creates fantastic job opportunities, generates growth and attracts the brightest talent the sector has to offer. A key objective of FinTech Scotland is to look outwards from Scotland as it establishes a framework which supports worldwide fintech engagement and collaboration, and it has chosen strategic partners who have a strong presence in Scotland as well as being global leaders in their field. As a law firm with a strong Scottish presence, we are the right fit for Fintech Scotland’s ambitions. We are already heavily immersed in the London fintech scene and we are also working on fintech projects across the world, including in Dublin, Dubai, Madrid and Singapore.

One of the key attractions of becoming a strategic partner was the opportunity to work alongside other industry leaders in identifying the initiatives which will help FinTech Scotland make a genuine difference. It is exciting to be involved at the beginning and we are very much looking forward to playing a role in ensuring Scotland grabs this important role in the emerging fintech sector.

- Yvonne Dunn, partner and financial services technology specialist at law firm Pinsent Masons