Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – Energised by FinTech Intimacy!

The intimacy of the fintech community and participants across Scotland has certainly given me an energised start to the year after the festive holiday.

Over the this first two weeks of 2019, the opportunity to engage and collaborate with the many people driving fintech innovation has enabled me to hit the ground running.


Coffee Shop Fintech Intimacy

And the many welcoming coffee shops across the country have been the venue of choice for the numerous meetings with inspiring fintech entrepreneurs during the last fortnight.

For example, this week it was brilliant to catch up with serial innovator Ross Laurie to hear about his new venture to reinvent part of the way financial services operates.

Scotland is the ideal home for launching Ross’s exciting initiative leveraging the open banking environment before taking to the rest of the financial world.

Open banking and data science are also being capitalized on by the engaging Adrian James (AJ) and his innovative Shoppa enterprise and we had much to talk through when we met last week.

In a short space of time AJ has developed a unique proposition that is going to have a positive impact on customer engagement financial services and beyond.

This will also be the case with Women’s Coin, a truly brilliant innovation which is going to have a world-wide impact in so many ways.

Wonderful to see the dynamic duo, Christine Bamford and Dr Jane Lewis, last week at one of our favourite coffee shops, Nomad.

We are delighted they are looking to develop their enterprise here in Scotland and become part of the diverse fintech community.

Then it was a late afternoon coffee with the magical MoneyMatiX team a few days ago, with the amazing Tynah Matembe and Helene Rodger.

Fantastic to see how their financial engagement prototype is developing and talk through the various take to market strategies.

This is just four examples amongst many others over this last two weeks of meetings at four very different types of coffee shops with Scotland’s diverse fintech enterprises.

Earlier this week the fintech intimacy moved away from the coffee shops to the offices of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for an engagement session with the fintech community.

It was great to having a very diverse group of the fintech community at the meeting and a massive thank you to Nicola Anderson, who is on a year long secondment from the FCA to FinTech Scotland, for putting on such an engaging event.

Many thanks also to Maggie Craig, Alan Drainer and Steven McWhirter for sharing their valuable regulatory insights and experiences.

I know there will be as much interest in the FCA Project Innovate event In Edinburgh on 31stJanuary.

This opportunity to have an intimate constructive engagement with the fintech community is something I am also looking forward to developing with the Scottish Government team leading on digital transformation.

Great to further develop these plans with Clare Mills and Carron Macnab from the Digital team this week along with Paul Gaffney from Hanya.

I’m really looking forward to the next stage of this initiative as it will demonstrate how the fintech community can play a constructive mutually beneficial role with a large organization such as the Government.


Big and Small FinTech Intimacy

This big and small fintech intimacy was the focus of the discussions with the very progressive and forward thinking team at Baillie Gifford.

It was great to meet up with Richard McGrail, Evan Delaney and Anurag Agrawal from Baillie Gifford to further develop how they can play an active role in shaping the fintech innovations being developed in Scotland.

This was also the theme of the discussion with Jackie Leiper of Lloyds Banking Group earlier this week as we explored the numerous ways in which to connect into the fintech community and innovative people developing the ideas for the future.

Derek Smith is leading some amazing initiatives at Lloyds demonstrating that big and small can develop a fintech intimacy.

This was even more apparent whilst in the Port Hamilton HQ as we bumped into the brilliant Manu Peleteiro, founder of the Inbest enterprise, which is helping make financial management accessible and inclusive to all.

Consumer inclusion was a key part of my update to the Financial Services Advisory Board (FiSAB) meeting on the second day back after the holidays last Tuesday

This was an opportunity for me to demonstrate how the growing fintech community can play a significant positive role from both a social perspective as well as economic outcomes.

Thank you to Scottish Government Ministers, Derek Mackay and Kate Forbes along with Jim Pettigrew of CYBG and Graeme Jones of the SFE for allowing me to celebrate FinTech Scotland first anniversary at the Board meeting.

Thanks also Shery for producing such a wonderful birthday cake to celebrate the occasion!

Our first anniversary has been well received in the global media over the last few days noting the various developments in Scotland over the last twelve months

Of course, on the ground, fintech innovation will only flourish if the big scale infrastructure is developed for the longer term

There is no one more inspiring to explain this than Keith O’Donnell of Morgan Stanley and it is hugely impressive to listen to Keith on this last week.

On a broader level, it was great to meet up with James King, the founder of Host in Scotland, and the always insightful Polly Purvis of Scotland IS and David Smith of Scottish Enterprise with John Trower and Graeme Malcolm to discuss the importance of data infrastructure for future innovations.

The role of data skills in driving fintech innovation was the focus of the conversation with Katriona Cunningham, Richard Matthews and Gordon Ritchie of Aviva last week as well.

It was great to have Michael Young and Rob Huggins of MBN Solutions with us to talk through their experiences of developing the data talent for the future.


University Fintech Intimacy

The fintech intimacy with the Universities across Scotland is something which has enormous potential in so many ways beyond the pure development of new young talent and skilled people.

This was reinforced to me this week in catching up with the fabulous Ellie Mackay from the Entrepreneurial Network team at the University of Strathclyde.

Very impressed on how Ellie and the team are engaging a diverse range of students on potential innovations as part of the fintech cluster development at the University.

Similarly, the potential development of new fintech enterprises through an accelerator programme at the University of Edinburgh with Gordon Donald and John Lonsdale of the Edinburgh Innovations team along Myron Hrycyk and Colin Carmichael of Sopra Steria.

Such an initiative will form an important part of the Edinburgh Futures Institute and it was good to catch up with Lesley McAra and Damien Mcgarrigle last week to discuss how fintech intimacy can have a very big role to play with new collaborations.

The fintech intimacy with the public sector opportunities and working with the CivTech programme is going to be key over the coming months.

This was also the discussion with the inspiring Glasgow School of Arts team, Irene McAra-Williams and Gordon Hush, this week as we considered how to progress the consumer inclusion initiatives further.

Later in the day we met up with Yvonne MacDermid and David at Money Advice Scotland to share the progress we are making and agree next steps in developing the intimacy with the range of fintech innovations to support their work.

The potential powerful impact that fintech could have on peoples lives was further recognized when catching up with Ewan Aitkin, the inspiring chief executive at the Cyrenians who deliver such amazing work.

Ewan and I first met over 35 years ago at university where we were both trying to positively change the world to be more progressive, a mission which we remain true to today albeit our tactics have changed slightly!


Enabling FinTech Intimacy

One of the exciting aspects about the fintech intimacy across Scotland is the numerous and diverse participants enabling innovation to flourish.

For example, it is great working with Mark Roger and his Vivolution team as the FinTech Scotland Network Integrator on a range of initiatives.

Developing the access and options for funding fintech enterprises is one such important area and this will be a key focus for our activity in 2019.

Furthermore, working alongside Graeme Rennison and the team at Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Investment Bank is valuable to ensure the fintech community can best leverage the range of product and services available.

There are many other active enabling participants, for example, on Monday in Glasgow it was really useful to catch up with Evelyn McDonald and Steven Hamill, who lead the Scottish Edge team, to discuss collaboration opportunities

We also enjoyed catching up with FinTech Scotland board member Yvonne Dunn, from our strategic partner Pinsent Mason, to discuss plans for the year and build on their fantastic fintech engagement last year.

A very full day in Glasgow finished off with a fascinating and constructive conversation with Nick Cousins, Mark Roger and Doug Morwood on enabling great fintech intimacy with large banks . Thanks Nick for progressing the opportunities on this.

I am hoping to leverage this Scotland strength of enabling fintech intimacy on a global scale in 2019

The first opportunity for this will be next week when I join Pat Kunz on SDI in Switzerland for a fintech trade mission along with Gavin Littlejohn and leaders from a number of market leading fintech firms.

Thank you to Manuela Andaloro for the catch up this week and guiding me through the presentations we will be giving next week in Zurich. More on this in the next Fuse blog in a fortnight.


Running Intimacy

I am hoping some of the Scottish fintech leaders joining me in Switzerland next week will join me on a few runs around the beautiful city of Zurich along the Limmat River and a full circuit of Lake Zurich!

Just now I’m up to running 50 miles a week and I need to keep the mileage high with the first marathon in early March fast approaching.

I‘ve been boosted by my first race of the year, a half marathon at Strathclyde Country Park on the first Sunday of January, which saw me take third place overall and a new trophy for the cabinet.

And yes, there were more than three people running the race!

Whilst I am keeping my feet on the ground, this is my best start to a running year in over four years and I am hoping to defy the physical challenges of getting older with a year of personal bests!

Of course, also planning for the ‘best year yet’ in fintech too! Until next time