The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence, created by Scottish fintech and open banking industry bodies in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, is close to signing funding agreements with international banks, fintech companies and global philanthropy organisations.
The centre would create a data research facility which would give a detailed snapshot of anonymised consumer spending to the fintech industry for debt researchers and future sociologists wanting to understand how people live today – as well as companies wanting to tap in to consumer function.
It will also be a centre of excellence for fintech companies to research regulation in the industry around the world.
Fintech is a group of companies which use technology to make financial services more accessible. Examples include banking apps and services such as Revolut, which allow people to track their spending, or “sweep” spare cash into savings accounts automatically.
Gavin Littlejohn who is head of FDATA and one of the leaders behind the project, said: “We hope to be running on a small scale by early next year. If this goes off to the extent we think it will, we could ultimately be looking at thousands of direct and indirect jobs for Edinburgh as a result.
“The partners behind it, the governments and policy makers and regulators are very keen to see this developed. There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world.”
“We see the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence being an international focus point of fintech global activity in the future.”
UK government legislation, which came into force in January last year, requires all financial services firms to make a customer’s financial information accessible to fintech firms – if the customer requests it.
Scotland has, in recent years, become an international leader in the fintech sector. Industry body FinTech Scotland revealed earlier this year that the number of fintech firms north of the border had grown to more than 100.
The centre is looking for an initial seed funding round of tens of millions of pounds to fund the project.
Companies will ultimately pay to access data, while there is likely to be a sliding fee scale that will apply to academic researchers or charities.
Littlejohn added: “People in the future will be able to look back to 2020 and say ‘How did people live? How did people work? What did they spend their money on?’”