Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – Exhilarating FinTech Energy!

The fintech energy across Scotland is just so exhilarating in so many ways!

It is an energy that is driving the rapid growth of the fintech community and this has been wonderful to experience again at first hand over this last few weeks.


Innovative Energy

For example, innovative energy has been very much in evident at a variety of meetings such as with Stephen Henry of the exciting Asura Financial as well as with Laura Bosworth and Mel Alexander from the awesome Amiqus team.

Then there were the engaging discussions with Chris Herd of Nexves and Kevin Hollister and Keith Harrison of Guiide at the Scottish FinTech meet up. Big thanks again to Scottish Fintech stalwarts Sergei Miller Pomphrey and Bobby King for being at forefront of community energy.

Last week it was a fascinating catch up with Garry Williams of Phoebus to talk about his innovative future plans and potential for expansion in Edinburgh.

Earlier in the week it was another wonderful meet up, this time with the very special Fife Fintech community to catch up with old and new friends.

Thank you to Iain Shirlaw for the celebratory cake and organizing a valuable discussion in the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy.

I get a lot of my energy in seeing the fintech community come together, such as at the University of Edinburgh ‘Futures Institute meeting on Wednesday evening.

Wonderful to see energetic entrepreneurs Helene Rodger of MoneyMatix, Christian Burgin of Visible Capital, George Kelsey and, very new to the community, Nanik Ramchandani of Trade Phi.

It was a great ‘mixer’ event organized by Gbenga ‘GB’ Ibikunle from the University of Edinburgh to share the developments of the fintech cluster being led by the University of Edinburgh

On top of all this engagement there have been some magnificent news from a range of innovative enterprises.

Modulr raising £14m capital to grow, LendingCrowd raising nearly £20m to support SME growth, Money Dashboard hugely successful crowd funding of £2m in 24 hours and then Soar receiving a major financial injection to take their innovation to the next level. Wow!!

These examples of the vibrant fintech community in Scotland is something I find myself sharing with global innovators and entrepreneurs on almost a daily basis on phone calls and in meetings.

For example, it was great to catch up recently with Ambreen and Sophie from Monese to hear about their exciting journey and the potential of being in Scotland.

Then it is spectacular to see all this come alive on line and in print through the Scotsman Fintech supplement this week.

Huge thanks to the brilliant David Lee for leading on such a comprehensive supplement and to the Scotsman team for bringing Scotland’s fintech progress alive.


Collaborative Energy

The innovation across the fintech community really comes alive when combined with the collaborative energy from a range of participants.

This is a theme I shared at the awesome Fintech North conference in Leeds on Thursday.

Building on the success of the Manchester conference, this was another wonderful occasion and it was a privilege to be part of the event with a really buzzing atmosphere.

It was an opportunity to meet a diverse range of people from the Leeds community including David Hoghton-Carter, Glynn Robinson, chairman of BJSS, Daniel de Wolf of Flybits and Andy Thompson (again) of Sandstone. All I hope to see in Scotland soon.

As well as people from the broader fintech ecosystem, David Beer of Fintech Alliance and Peter Cunnane and Clare Black of Innovate Finance. Clare led on terrific session on Fintech and diversity in the afternoon sessions.

Over lunch it was great to catch up with the engaging founder Kyle MacDonald and non exec director Mark Spink of Scottish fintech Financial Cloud to talk through collaboration opportunities in Glasgow especially in the credit union sector.

Also, terrific to meet up with international guests Muhamed Farooque of Excelledia and Kyoungrok Lee and Min Sungjun from Samsung Life, all of whom I look forward to welcoming to Scotland next month.

Thank you once again to inspiring FinTech North leaders Julian Wells and Chris Sier as well as the fabulous Fintech North and Whitecap Consulting and White Label Crowdfunding teams. Magical

Very much looking forward to hosting the FinTech National Network meeting in Edinburgh in June and the collaboration conference in the Autumn in Glasgow.

One area of collaboration I highlighted to people was between fintech and the public sector. For example, the work to develop a new payments platform with the Scottish Government is a hugely exciting collaboration opportunity for fintechs.

It is a real pleasure to be working with inspiring leaders Trish Quinn and Hugh Wallace along with the impressive team Clare, Martin, Alex and Carron at the Scottish Government.

Very much looking forward to the buzzing energy at the collaboration event in June to share more with the fintech community and wider stakeholders.

On the subject of large scale collaborative energy, fantastic to see the news about Lloyds Bank major tech job expansion in Edinburgh.

Last week I was delighted to be invited to the Lloyds Bank pre AGM dinner to talk with Chair Norman Blackwell and give examples of Lloyds Bank energetic support of the fintech community in Scotland.

The collaboration energy was very much part of the discussion with the CYBG Innovation Team a week ago as well.

Great to have such an engaged and imaginative audience looking to develop even closer working relationship with the fintech community.

Many thanks to the inspiring Sam Bedford, Gary McLellan and Jack Mckenna, looking forward to progressing the opportunities.

Also very much encouraged by the meetings with the Barclays team, Ben Davey and old colleague Steven Roberts, especially with the exciting build of the new Barclays campus in Glasgow.

Thanks also to Colin Carmichael and the Sopra Team for a terrific working session with Mark Daisley and the BNP Paribas team

I am very encouraged by the large financial services institutions who are looking to work with us to bring the fintech community in to a closer working relationship to support innovation.

Many thanks to Ali Law of Royal London and David Skinn of Aviva for valuable conversations over the last week or so.

A completely different area where the collaboration energy is beginning to be so powerful is our fabulous engagement with the Money Advice Scotland team

It was very much a huge privilege for me to present at their annual conference in Dunblane on Friday as a double act with my colleague Nicola Anderson.

Infact, it was really quite emotional, as the work of the front line money advisers is something I have recognised as hugely valuable since my childhood.

Just magical to be there with real experts who are focused in supporting people when faced with the most difficult of financial circumstances.

Very much appreciate Yvonne McDermid and David Hilferty giving me us the opportunity to share the role of fintech in supporting their work.


Expert Energy

This expert energy is crucial to the thriving fintech ecosystem and the universities play a crucial role.

This also was a key theme at the Fintech North conference, and it was great to be on the stage to discuss this with Chelsea Hardy, Andrew Maeer, Iain Clacher, George Lodorfos and expertly chaired by Eve Roodhouse of Leeds Council. Very much a shared agenda of inclusive growth.

I am thoroughly enjoying working with the brilliant expert team at University of Strathclyde, Daniel Broby, Devraj Basu, Martin Hughes and James Bowden in developing the plans for the fintech cluster in Glasgow.

Their expertise in bringing together the academic intellect with entrepreneurial new enterprises in the magnificent Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow is certainly fueling fintech energy and enterprise.

Bringing together the consortium of stakeholder expertise across the central belt in Scotland is a huge strength in developing the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence.

My meetings this last few weeks with a cross section of key players such as Simon Pink and Mairi Cairney of IBM, Anneli Ritari-Stewart and Richard Gill of Dentsu Aegis as well the brilliant team at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, Liz Mcareavey and Alex Haramis very much reinforce this.

Broadening the potential range of experts contributing and supporting fintech is key and it was valuable to discuss this with Graham Burns, John and Nia from FWB Park Brown team. Very much looking forward to working with the Aberdeen community on this

Earlier this week I delighted to have the opportunity to share progress on the Global Centre of Excellence with Government Minister Ivan McKee.

Damien McGarrigle and Kevin Collins are doing an excellent job on leading the initiative along with the awesome Gavin Littlejohn driving the amazing global engagement.

The open banking and finance opportunity was highlighted recently by Caroline Stevenson of Womble Bond Dickinson in a great article in the Scotsman.

I had the opportunity to learn about Caroline expert work as part of a six mile ‘running meeting’ around Arthurs Seat one very early morning this week.

What could be better than combining my two passions of running and fintech!


Running Energy

I am going to need all the running energy I can muster this weekend with the Edinburgh marathon on Sunday!

Being only six weeks back from an eight week injury lay off, I know I will need to take it steady over the 26.2 miles, so the pressure is off in many ways when it comes to how fast I go.

This will be the first of three marathon this year and I’ve been helped back to running fitness with a couple really enjoyable races in Coatbridge and Balerno over the last couple of weeks.

The latter made all the more enjoyable on a lovely Monday evening by running most of route with Carron Macnab of Scottish Government when we ended up talking as much about fintech as running!!

Maybe talking fintech is the secret for the marathon this weekend but who will I find to chat with!! Until next time.