Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – A Festive FinTech for All

With the holiday period fast approaching this last two weeks has certainly been a festive fintech fortnight and there has been much to bring us Christmas cheer.

Such as some terrific announcements of innovative collaborations being led from Scotland’s fintech community with a broad spectrum of large organisations.

For example, Castlight Financials exciting development with Big Issue Invest with their world leading affordability tool, then there is Money Dashboard’s ground breaking collaboration with Go Compare.

Other examples include CU Soar new major partnership for a digital platform with Glasgow Credit Union to engage with their 46,000 customers and Wallet Services strategic blockchain innovation with Baillie Gifford.


Festive Awards

Therefore, it was no surprise that fintech firms from Scotland are being recognized through numerous awards.

For example, well done to the Previse team for recognition at the Finastra Universe awards event for their best in class innovative technology addressing slow payments.

Then at the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) Summit last Thursday, the Scottish fintech community scooped up the majority of the highly acclaimed awards.

Big congratulations to the Castlight Financial, Money Dashboard and The ID Co teams for this fantastic recognition which very much highlights their amazing work in improving consumer engagement with financial services.

The recognition from these and other awards for the fintech community is raising awareness amongst the international investment players on the innovative developments across Scotland.

It was good to share these examples of Scottish firms with Vishal Patel of the fintech investor Anthemis this week and looking forward to developing this further in the new year.

The FDATA Global Open Finance Summit over the two days either side of their big award evening was an awesome event in so many ways.

Held at the iconic the University of Edinburgh McEwan Hall, over two hundred people gathered to share latest innovative developments in the world of open banking.

This was a truly international event with entrepreneurs, investors, regulators and major institutions from every corner of the world meeting in Edinburgh to shape the future.

Congratulations must go to the brilliant host Andy McIver, the fabulous FDATA and Message Matters teams, the event crew as well as to the many insightful and thought provoking speakers.

The Summit was great opportunity to catch up with long standing friends such as Brian Costello and make new acquaintances from around the world.

The upmost respect and accolade to Gavin Littlejohn who expertly led the event and inspired the diverse group of people on how open finance can positively change the world, especially as Gavin had only two hours sleep over the 48 hours!


Festive Energy

There was plenty of festive energy at the wonderful ‘fintechmas’ get together at Tontine, Glasgow on Tuesday evening as the fintech community came together to toast 2018 and enter the Christmas spirit.

Organised by John McHugh, one of the most motivating and inspiring fintech entrepreneurs on the planet, and hosted by the super team of Alison, Alex and Harry from the Gigly and Adlantic as well as Pauline and Ewan from Tontine.

Many thanks to fintech friends Hamish, Will and Katrina from the terrific media group FutureScot for their generous support with beer and pizza.

To my surprise I ended up doing a fintech ‘state of the nation’ presentation with a Father Christmas hat on just to add to the ‘fintechmas’ feelgood factor!

Prior to the event it was great to talk through opportunities with Dino and Zoe from Bifrost for their exciting wealth management platform.

Earlier that day Nicola and I also met up with Rod Ashley who is setting a new innovative bank which we are looking forward to supporting in 2019 as part of the fintech community.

Edinburgh held its own ‘fintechmas’ get together the week before and it was fantastic to welcome a number of new fintech entrepreneurs to the community meet up as well as those who have been coming along from when Fintech Scotland started at the beginning of the year.

I must say a big thank you to Shery for making everything come together to make these fintech meet ups a success, Shery you are a fintech star and we’d be lost without your positive energy.

Earlier on in the day on Tuesday last week there was a lot of positive energy at the CanDo Innovation Forum.

It was really enjoyable to join the inspiring Irene McAra-Williams, director of the Glasgow School of Arts in sharing details of our proposed consumer inclusion initiative with the Forum.

This fintech consumer initiative was also top of our agenda for the meeting with Yvonne MacDermid and David from Money Advice Scotland, who do such valuable work across communities and where fintech innovation could play a growing role.

More to come on this early next year and it was also a key theme for the Fintech Scotland board meeting last Monday along with considering the fintech strategy for Scotland beyond 2020.

This conversation continued in the bar for a few joyful festive drinks afterwards to say thank you to the Board members for their valuable strategic insights throughout 2018.

Strategic considerations were very much on the agenda at the inaugural City Deal Regional Enterprise Council meeting last Friday, expertly chaired by Leeann Dempster.

I’m delighted to be invited to join this Council with its diverse group of people to consider the significant strategic investments in the region for the decade ahead.

Fintech collaboration and inclusion can very much play a big part in this, especially in the field of data driven innovation.

At the end of the meeting what a fabulous surprise to talk with fellow Council member Ewan Aitkin and be reminded that our paths crossed more than thirty five years ago at university!

Looking forward to catching up with Ewan in the new year to reminisce about those tough times in the early 1980’s and using the lessons and spirit from those days in today’s world.


Festive Spirit

On Tuesday this week we popped into to see the fantastic Michael Young and Rob Huggins of MBN Solutions who have given FinTech Scotland terrific support throughout 2018 in connecting talent into the world of fintech in Scotland.

Their office was very much in festive spirit and it was wonderful to see how their Christmas appeal will be reaching many children in Glasgow in the days ahead. Brilliant leadership by the Georgia Boyle and the team.

Later that day it was wonderful to catch up with the engaging Angela Pignatelli and Jim Mcallister of West College Scotland to hear about their plans to develop fintech skills in 2019 which we are very excited to support.

A few days before I had the opportunity to catch up with Iain Shirlaw to hear about the great progress with the Fife FinTech Skills Academy and how the fintech community are driving this forward with Fife College.

The topic of people skills dominated the CBI Financial Services breakfast meeting on Thursday and it was great to hear insights from Alison McGregor of HSBC, David Skinn of Aviva and the Scottish Government Minister Ivan Mckee.

Thank you to Tracy Black, Flora Hamilton and Henrietta Jowitt for an engaging event and the opportunity for me to share the examples fintech skills developments in Fife and West Scotland.

Highlighting the fintech people skills opportunities was also a key focus for my catch up with Michael Dickson of FWB Park Brown as we considered an exciting event for 2019.

Then also looking forward to 2019, it was great to meet up with Olga Kozlova of University of Strathclyde and see the new FinTech Scotland Glasgow base in the amazing Technology & Innovation Centre.

Another fintech collaboration I’m looking forward to further progress in 2019 is with the Scottish Government digital transformation team, especially in the area of payments

Great updates from Trish Quinn, Hugh Wallace, Alex Bunch and Martin Sansome at the Steering Board and catch up with Clare Mills along with the team from Hanya, Angela Porte, Paul Gaffney and Martin Ewart.

On a broader digital perspective, it was really interesting to join Rab Campbell, Colin Cook and other distinguished members of the Audit Scotland Digital Advisory Board last week to share insights.

Looking forward to collaborating with Gemma Diamond and Veronica Cameron on this in 2019.

Festive Collaboration

Festive collaboration was very much in the air at the Marketing Edinburgh Christmas get together on Thursday evening.

Absolutely inspiring speeches by chair Gordon Robertson and chief executive John Donnelly all wonderfully hosted at the beautiful Balmoral (many thanks Frances Maurer).

The Marketing Edinburgh team have once again delivered world class achievements for the region in 2018 under the awesome stewardship of John Donnelly which benefits the whole economy.

The event was a chance to catch up with a number of people who have given Marketing Edinburgh and FinTech Scotland such valuable support in 2019 such as the fabulous Rory Archibald of Visit Scotland who is helping us plan for the next fintech festival in the Autumn.

Earlier in the week we caught up with Ray Bugg and Pete Swift of Digit to also start planning the fintech profile and activities for 2019, always great to be working with these guys as we look to put fintech even more on the global map.

On a more specific note, very excited about the growing fintech collaboration between University of Edinburgh, Sopra Steria and Fintech Scotland following some great conversations last week.

This is another exciting area to be progressing with the engaging Craig Wilson, Myron Hrycyk and Colin Carmichael from Sopra Steria in developing emerging fintech innovations.

Festive collaboration opportunities were also on the table along with homemade mince pies for the session with the IBM team on Wednesday.

A constructive conversation with IBM’s Simon Pink, Michael Mauchline and another good friend from the past Mairi Cairney as well as Mark Roger from Vivolution

The collaboration opportunities continue to develop on the global stage too with a valuable catch ups with leading Scottish Development International leading lights Pat Kunz from Switzerland and Alexandra Mulcahy from Germany.

I am very much looking forward to my visits with various firms from the Scottish fintech community to Europe in the early part of 2019 to develop the opportunities further.

Our very good friend, Triinu Hansen of FDATA will be returning home to Estonia at the weekend and although we will very much miss Triinu we know we also have a new fintech ambassador in this lovely part of Eastern Europe.

Scotland continues to be very much part of the Europe.

This has been highlighted in our global fintech work with Kent Mackenzie and the team at Deloitte who have provided really valuable expertise and insights on where to focus our efforts in Europe and worldwide.

These global collaboration ambitions are also shared by the Ethical Finance Hub team based at Heriot Watt University and it was brilliant to share plans with Omar Shaikh and Chris Tait this week.

Similarly, it was fantastic to meet up with Jock Encombe this Thursday to talk through the mutually shared objectives of the Well Being Economy Alliance and Fintech Scotland alongside Edinburgh Futures Institute.

Very excited about the joint innovation initiative for the Spring of 2019 to demonstrate global leadership on reinventing financial services and the wider economy.

Before then we will take some time away over the festive period to recharge the batteries and reflect on the next stage of the Fintech Scotland journey.

Finally, I must finish this last blog of 2018 with a very special thank you for Mickael, Shery and Nicola who have made this a very special fintech year in so many ways.

They have very much put their heart and soul into FinTech Scotland’s drive for innovation, collaboration and inclusion and the journey has been amazing.

Festive Running

We will close for the festive break on Wednesday 19th December and return for our FinTech Scotland one year birthday on 8th January 2019.

In the meantime, I will have time to do plenty of festive running around the wonderful roads and trails of Edinburgh.

And I am in buoyant running mood after completing the challenging Pentland Hills Seven Reservoir half marathon and the Magnificent Water of Leith half marathon in the last two weekends.

This holiday I’ll be running everywhere from the Leith Waterfront to Arthurs Seat and across the Forth Bridge to Fife, so many places to enjoy.

My festive running will start with Parkrun this Saturday down at Crammond, a place where our diverse community come together to share a common love of running, always so uplifting.

I’m hoping Scotland’s fintech can emulate the Parkrun pride, passion and community inclusiveness as we continue the journey in 2019.

Until then, wishing you all peace and well being for the holiday period.