Fintech Fuse – A Festive FinTech Fusion, preparing for 2020!

Just time to fit in a final fusion blog for 2019 before clocking off for 2019 and the festive holiday.

A frantic run in to the festive period has meant I’ve had little time to keep up with a regular blog so please forgive random rambling of the last couple of months!

Festive Community 

Very fitting that the festive spirit was very much in the air at the FinTech Scotland Fusion event with the community last week at one of Edinburgh’s most popular fintech hubs, The Green Room! 

Wonderful to see so many of fabulous fintech leaders and entrepreneurs join us for a glass of wine or two for the occasion magnificently hosted by special friend Sarah Ronald. Big thanks to the brilliant Stuart, Darren and LendingCrowd team for their generous Christmas hospitality.

A similar uplifting spirt was evident at the Modulr fintech community event the previous month, recognising the terrific progress by the team and the exciting plans ahead. It was super to see so many of the fintech community there for the evening. 

The diversity of Scotland fintech community is one of the core strengths and engenders amazing collaboration and innovation.

For example, as shown in the support provided by how the community in getting behind the MoneyMatix crowdfunding exercise recently, inspiring to see. 

Furthermore, collaboration boosted by fintechs coming to Scotland from all parts of the world.

 For example, meetings over recently with Alex and Monika of Polydigi (Hong Kong),  Gopal of BlackArrow , Shendon and Michael of Gobbill as well as Izzy and Paul of Veriluma  (all from Australia) reinforce the global make up of the community. 

This was a key theme I was able to share in presenting at the FinTech World Forum in London last month to a very diverse global leadership audience which I am told further reinforces Scotland position as an International fintech centre attracting entrepreneurs and innovators. 

Meeting our close European partners has also been a key activity over last few months and we are excited to join eight other fintech centres across Europe in the Discovery Collaboration Programme connecting firms with opportunities across our continent.

In addition, it has been great to meet with senior leaders from the French Embassy to talk about collaboration opportunities. 

Our ongoing close engagement and friendship with colleagues across our European continent continues to be a key focus in demonstrating to Scotland remains very much open to shared innovation.

Mickael’s ongoing value leadership in building our global FinTech connectivity to support the community in Scotland continues to play an important role.

Alongside this it has been brilliant to work with our super Scottish Development International colleagues to welcome fast growing fintech firms from Hong Kong , Canada, China, Korea all looking at Scotland as a future home for their innovations 

Massive thanks to the fabulous Andrew Wykes, Kirsty Russell, Sarah Kenrick and team at Lloyds Banking Group for recently hosting the Hong Kong and Canadian delegations and arranging the festive market to add to the fintech atmosphere in December . 

All of this is reflected in the brilliant examples of the FinTech community in the Herald Business supplement a couple of weeks ago. Terrific writing Kim McAllister very much appreciate your engagement and coverage of fintech developments in Scotland. 

Kim and I had the opportunity to discuss these developments with other leaders one evening recently at a session organised by Malcolm Buchanan , Mike Crow and the RBS team . 

The impactful innovation and leadership by Kristen and the RBS team is hugely valuable to the significant progress and we very much appreciate their ongoing collaboration and support. It is also great to see exciting initiatives such as the exciting Accelerator Hub in central Edinburgh 

Festive Collaboration 

Collaboration very sits at the heart of innovation progress across Scotland and one of the most memorable examples of this was the recent Glasgow University FinTech Society challenge event, it was also one of my best ‘FinTech Friday’ evenings ever!! 

Awesome leadership by Elisabetta, Andrea, Davide and the Society committee bringing together the energetic and diverse students, terrific academic leaders John Finch and Dominic Chalmers, fintech entrepreneurs Sustainably, heavyweights Deloitte and the innovative Chris O’Neill of M3. 

Wow, what an evening of fintech, wine, curry and yes a Jazz band with entertaining presentation interlude by the fabulous Lou Smith and a half time fill in by me!! 

Back home after midnight with ‘fintech jazz’ ringing in my ears but the evening said everything that is so special about the fintech movement with focus on people and a festive atmosphere. 

The festive collaboration was also very much in evident at the FinTech National Network ‘ investor pitch day’ at Level 39 in London this week. 

Terrific work by the super Hayley, Peter and the Innovate Finance team in bringing together investors to hear from fintech firms from around the UK. Thank you Charlotte Crosswell for fabulous day, super atmosphere and the ongoing leadership in 2019. 

Very proud of the presentations by Nick of Edinburgh based Zumo and Kyle of Glasgow based Financial Cloud in articulating their compelling and innovative fintech propositions

Also, really great to catch up with fintech comrades from Wales, Northern Ireland, North and West as well as Tom Helm from DIT as we all reflected on our shared ambitions for fintech and the collaboration opportunities in 2020.

The investor pitch event followed on from the very first FinTech National Network event in Glasgow back in October. 

Bringing together the Scottish fintech community with peers and stakeholders from across the UK was one of the many big highlights for 2019.

The event saw Alex of Encompass, Laura of  Amiqus, James of Direct ID and Andrew of  Soar from the Scottish community share compelling stories about how they are developing their FinTech proposition to make a real difference.

Also, excellent presentations from the very engaging FCA team Laura Navaratnam and Steven McWhirter as well as Kevin Telford on sharing the impact the world of open finance can have on peoples lives. 

Very fitting the event was hosted in the University of Strathclyde which is leading the awesome development of the Glasgow City Innovation District of which fintech is a growing and significant cluster as brilliantly covered by Eleanor Shaw. 

Many thanks to the University and City Council for supporting this significant event along with Glynn Robinson and the super team from BJSS team. 

Listening to great presentations from Andrew of Northern Ireland, Gavin of Wales , Julian of West and Dan of North on the day reminded us all that we can learn so much from each other as we develop our respective FinTech communities. 

The wonderful finale of the day was a focus on people inclusion and diversity with such valuable insights coming from the panel of Lou Smith, Elisabetta from Glasgow University, Laura and Nicola

It was a privilege to co-host the day with my ‘Ant and Dec’ partner, Chris Sier who was as engaging as always in bringing alive the importance of the FinTech innovation for everyone. 

I know next year will bring even more wider international collaboration opportunities and it was great to chat this through with Phil, Rory and Isaac of FinTech Alliance over a few glasses on Tuesday evening . Thanks guys, looking to hit the ground running early next year. 

Festive Innovation 

The run up to the festive period has certainly fueled fintech innovation examples with the community covering a very broad range of themes

For example, it was great to have the inspiring entrepreneurs Phil from Castlight and Manu from Inbest come along to the FinTech Scotland Citizen Panel to share the positive impact of fintech innovation.

The Panel plays a crucial role in identifying how we can collaboratively address issues such as financial inclusion and tackling problem debt amongst citizens working with the third sector, universities, Government and regulator. 

A huge thank you to colleague Nicola Anderson for leadership on this area and privilege to work with Nicola and have the secondment to FinTech Scotland extended for another year from the FCA.   

More real innovative fintech examples were on show at the University of Edinburgh Business School non executive director course one Thursday evening recently.

This again was a real pleasure for me as I was joined by three absolutely inspiring leaders for the evening to share real life case studies on the leadership needs of growing fintech enterprises. 

Many thanks again to the magnificent three, Colin of Float, Sonia of Level E and Aleks of newly formed Exizent for such engaging evening with the senior leaders from across Scotland . 

Thank you also to John Amis of the University as well as Ailsa and Judy of FWB Park Brown for the opportunity to put fintech in the non-executive programme for senior leaders.

This week the festive innovation extended to the world of crypto assets and I was very proud to invite three leaders in this field to join me at the Scottish Government Working Group with the Lord Advocate and Lord Hodge.

Fantastic contributions to the discussion on the opportunity by Paul of Zumo, Christine of Women’s Coin, Richard of QWallets , thank you and more to come on this in 2020 especially in demonstrating fintech as a force for good. 

This was also very much brought alive during the FinTech session I was invited to host at the Global Ethical Finance Conference at the RBS campus a couple of months ago. 

Fantastic examples shared by Georgia of Tumelo and Christine of Women’s Coin on the role of FinTech innovation having an important social impact.

Another area getting some good focus from fintech innovation at present is cyber security and financial crime being led by Nicola. 

The joint event recently with Police Scotland and National Crime Agency was very insightful. Many thanks to Leanne of Nucleus, Rachel and Dave of Amiqus and Mike of Modulr for their valuable engagement and leadership on this. 

The FinTech collaboration initiatives extend across the public sector and it was brilliant to witness first hand the progress being made in collaboration with the Scottish Government Digital team.

Fantastic to see this demonstrated with Minister Kate Forbes by the fabulous Trish, Hugh, Carron, Mike and terrific teams last week, very much looking forward to the collaboration progress in 2020.

Fintech was very much on show at the CanDo Innovation Summit recently in Glasgow and it was terrific to be part of an amazing event with the other exciting industry clusters driving new initiatives. 

The fintech examples were brought alive in the auditorium by Loral and Eishel of Sustainably, Colin of Float and Duncan of Modulr and it was a privilege to host the showcase. 

Festive Cluster 

The Glasgow fintech cluster is very much going from strength to strength in so many ways and it was great to share the progress with the City Economic Leadership team a few weeks ago, thank you Mark Napier, JP Morgan for the opportunity and continuing collaboration 

The action packed FinTech Scotland partnership with University of Strathclyde team is giving valuable momentum to the fintech initiatives and we are really excited about progressing in 2020 as part of the City Innovation District. 

Thank you to Eleanor Shaw, David Hillier and terrific team for valuable leadership on this 

Building on this with great sessions with innovative leaders Samantha Bedford and Virgin Money team, Tara Foley and Bank of Scotland team, David Ratcliffe, Stuart Brown and Barclays team as well as Ali Law and Paul Gallagher of Royal London provide great new collaboration opportunities for 2020. 

Sharing these Scottish fintech developments with a worldwide audience is always on the agenda and it was great to join Alex Ford of Encompass on a podcast along with Lou Smith. 

Thank you Cheri Burns for making this happen and the opportunity to share the message. Also, very best wishes to Alex has she moves to New York to expand the Encompass innovation on the other side of the Atlantic. 

Of course, the fintech cluster is developing across Scotland and it has been great to work with inspiring Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of ScotlandIS along with fabulous Svea, Katy and Ciara on joint initiatives to develop the digital economy. This is a core focus for us in 2020 with much more to come!

The fintech cluster developments require broad collaboration such as with ScotlandIS and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce who provide valuable leadership in the Scottish economy. 

Great working with the super Liz McAreavey, on the Scottish and international opportunity.

In addition, its been fantastic working in collaboration with our colleagues at Scottish Enterprise and the fintech network integrator team, Vivolution, making the Scottish cluster embrace the innovation opportunities. 

Working with the University of Edinburgh team on a range of opportunities means the fintech cluster in the capital is going to go from strength to strength in 2020. 

The Wayra cohort in Bayes , led by the brilliant Charlotte Waugh is a terrific example of this and it is great to see the progress by James of Xpand and Evangelos of Ocyan 

Then wider across Edinburgh, great to catch up with Paul, founder of  Inifinity Works who have recently set up in Edinburgh as well as Scott and Raymond from Exception to talk through collaboration opportunities. These are just two examples of many that make life so fascinating in Scotland’s developing fintech sector 

We have been running hard to keep up with the fintech momentum across the whole cluster in Scotland and Shery has done an amazing job in keeping us organised between meetings , speaking engagements and project sessions throughout the year.

Festive Running

I’ve also been fortunate enough to maintain my running addiction during this last frantic few months of 2019, infact it seems to have helped my racing performance!

The highlight being the recent Loch Ness Marathon with my best time in nearly three years at 3 hours 16mins which is giving me great hope for my times next year!!

This was followed up a couple of weeks ago with a 1 hour 32mins for the Water of Leith Half Marathon which also left me buzzing. 

As with fintech developments in Scotland, if I can keep this race momentum into next year then we could be hitting some new peaks results in 2020!!However, for now it is time to relax and enjoy the festive holidays with my very special family as well as a bit of running around the roads and paths of Scotland whilst having a few small dreams on what the year ahead will bring. Until then.....