Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – Falling in Love with FinTech!

It is just so wonderful to see so many people falling in love with fintech and how it is fueling the opportunity to innovate through collaboration and inclusion.

This was very much the case on Wednesday morning when I joined the Lloyds Bank and Google teams for a ‘Falling in Love with FinTech’ breakfast meet up.

The diverse audience from the fintech community, academia, large financial enterprises and many other organisations made a terrific atmosphere.

Big thanks to Misha Cunningham and Google Digital team for their fabulous hospitality

This meet up was brilliantly led by the inspiring Sarah Kenrick along with Tom, Kegode, Lisa Caldwell and Lloyds Bank team.

Lloyds, one of the initial founders of FinTech Scotland, are developing impressive innovations and collaborations by engaging the fintech community.


Community Love

The community love continued the next evening as we held FinTech Scotland ‘Fusion’ gathering where we had a fantastic buzz and atmosphere. I know some carried it on into the very late hours!

The ‘Fusion’ was expertly organized by our entrepreneurial friend Aleks Tomczyk with great collaboration and generosity from Kirsty Irvine and Johnston Carmichael.

Wonderful mini spotlight talks from Myles Stephenson of Modulr, Hannah Rudman of Wallet Services, Loral Quinn of Sustainably and Stuart Lunn of LendingCrowd as well as our ‘fintech grandfather’ Gavin Littlejohn.

They all brought alive the evening by sharing their experiences and latest news and reaffirmed to a very diverse and engaged audience why falling in love with fintech was so easy.

We all decided that ‘Fusion’ meet up will be a regular event in addition to our frequent fintech practitioner forums across Scotland so more on this to come

The community plays such an important role in welcoming new fintech enterprises working in Scotland and it was terrific to see firms new to the community with us on Thursday such as SageCity, Listings Ledger and Miconex.

The role of the community is something I shared with Stuart Harvey of Datatics and Graham Paterson a couple of weeks ago and we look forward to seeing them both at future events.

Supporting the growth of new fintech enterprises will see the community expand across Scotland and it is fantastic to be working with the Craig Wilson, Colin Carmichael of Sopra Steria and Gordon Donald and John Lonsdale of University of Edinburgh with a new accelerator programme.

Supporting the love of fintech innovation was very much in evidence when Mickael and I spent some time last week at Codebase with the Barclays Eagle Lab team.

Always wonderful to catch up with Trish McClay and talk about their terrific engagement along with the magical fintech entrepreneur Suhail Ahmad of AdviserDirect and the awesome Colin Hewitt of Float, who have now expanded into twenty plus nations.

We had been in Codebase the previous week for two fantastic sessions of massive significance in bringing more love into fintech, both of which will spread the fintech love far and wide.

Downstairs we had a FinTech consumer inclusion workshop with the Karen Rodger, Andrew McConnell from Scottish Government and along with Yvonne Macdermid, David Hilferty from Money Advice Scotland, Allison Barnes from Money Advice Service and other consumer groups.

The session was led by the inspiring duo Barbara Mills from CivTech and Nicola Anderson in developing a roadmap on how fintech can play a significant role in addressing financial inclusion challenges. This was all about the building new demand for fintech

Then, in parallel, upstairs, we had the Scottish Government session with entrepreneurs on how the engagement with small enterprises could be developed to improve the supply of innovation. This was a fantastic session led by Clare Mills, Carron McNab and colleagues.

It is a privilege to be part of this valuable work being led by Trish Quinn and hugely exciting to have the fintech community being involved in the opportunity to really impact big innovation with Government.

We shared these mutually aligned initiatives with the Digital Minister Kate Forbes and the FiSAB sub group with Graeme Jones the following day and it was great to get the endorsement to build on this big ‘love’ opportunity for fintech.


Big Love

The broader love of fintech on a big scale is going to provide exciting opportunities to scale up the innovation in Scotland.

For example, in working with the rapidly changing M&G Prudential business engage with the fintech community and it was valuable to catch up with Mark Simpson and the Managing Director, David Macmillan a couple of times over this last fortnight

Then on Wednesday it was terrific to meet up with Sam Bedford, Gary McLellan and innovative team at CYBG in Glasgow.

Fantastic to see the leading edge examples from Jennifer and Jack of how they are innovating to improve customers financial engagement and the opportunities to engage with the fintech community in Scotland.

Really looking forward to progressing with the Sam and the team and combine our mutual love of fintech with real purpose.

The combination of big and small coming together to love fintech was one of the key themes for the discussion with Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce members on Thursday morning.

Thank you to everyone for the engagement and support, especially Liz Mcareavey and Rebecca Meish for inviting me to discuss how Scotland can develop the fintech love on a bigger scale.

This is something we were very much putting into action with senior executives Frank Tong and KC Tsui from HSBC Global who flew from Hong King to meet with us and firms from the fintech community.

Thank you to Ahmed El-Ryias from the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh for setting up the meeting, it was a terrific session late into the last Wednesday evening and onto the Thursday as well.

Thank you also to Colin Halpin who led HSBC to be one of Fintech Scotland initial founding partners and has played an important supporting role in our progress in the first year.

It was the fantastic presentations and engagement from the Scottish fintech firms which very much illustrated the innovative developments in Scotland and the significant opportunities to collaborate with the HSBC Global team.

In fact, Frank mentioned that the activities in Scotland were world leading and certainly made Scotland stand out as a global fintech centre, especially with date driven innovation.


Global Love

The global love continues to be an important part of work and this has been increasing even more over this last few weeks.

For example, absolutely I loved catching up with our good friend Thorsten Terweiden, who leads on fintech developments at Hong Kong Invest, on his visit to Scotland.

Great engagement with Thorsten and his team as we work with Graham Hatton and the SDI team in developing he Hong Kong Scotland bridge for our respective fintech communities.

This opportunity to share the mutual love of fintech opportunities was very much on the agenda when I met up on Tuesday with the fabulous Dan Roselli who is the founder of the impressive FinTech Accelerator Hub in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dan took time out of his vacation to share the amazing story of what the team has achieved and there were so many parallels with the what we are building in Scotland.

I thanked Dan with one of the great Scottish beers and we agreed to take forward a joint number of areas to develop the mutual love of fintech both sides of the Atlantic.

The collaboration opportunities with USA was also the focus of my conversation with Jennifer Ericson, a Global Scot based in Minnesota and I very much value the connections Jennifer is helping us build for our fintech community.

Exporting is an important part of the fintech agenda, and it was valuable to catch up Suzanne Henderson from the Scottish Government team who is leading on the work to identify global market priorities for all sectors.

Very much looking forward to progress this work with Suzanne, Lesley Ward, Scott Strain along with Lorraine Mallon from SDI and build on the progress being made by a number of firms.

A great example of this is hearing last week about The ID Co, who are part of the DIT fintech trade mission to New York in a couple of weeks and Craig Buchan, the founder of QPal, who are progressing amazing innovations in the Middle east and Africa.

Last Monday, I was delighted to be invited by Graeme Jones of SFE to join him and SFE members for the dinner with the City of London Mayor Peter Estlin for an engaging conversation on the global role for Scotland in financial services and fintech.

I had met with Peter Estlin the previous week at the latest Department of International Trade Fintech Board meeting which considered a number of areas in developing the international reach of fintech.

In particular, it was great to hear from the very engaging Laura Royle from the FCA who outlined the valuable work in developing the Global Financial Innovation Network.

Laura recently led a fantastic FCA Project Innovate event for the Scottish fintech community and we are looking to do this again to cover some of the global regulation opportunities for fintech firms.


Collaborative Love

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to share this global opportunity for fintech at the City Deal Conference and the importance of collaboration to deliver data driven innovation success for the country.

I very much enjoyed the chance to share the stage with Digital Minister Kate Forbes as well as Professor Mark Parsons and Professor Charlie Jeffrey along with the distinguished panels.

To highlight the importance of collaborative love I was given the challenge by Andy Nichol form Edinburgh City Council to finish with the words from a song by The Men They Couldn’t Hang!!

This I duly did with the very apt words from their song ‘Great Expectations’!

Huge thanks to Hamish Miller, Will Peakin and the Future Scot team for putting on such an important collaboration conference. Looking forward to the next one in Glasgow in May.

I’m also looking forward to speaking at the FinTech North events in April and May and always valuable to catch up with Julian Wells on Monday to talk through sharing the fintech collaboration love both sides of the border.

There are some great expectations from the data driven innovation programme and with the momentum growing now behind building the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence then Scotland’s fintech enterprises will play a central role.

It was hugely exciting to be part of the collaboration bringing alive the Centre of Excellence working with various partners including Damien at University of Edinburgh and Gavin with his FDATA team.

You’ll hear more on that in the coming weeks although if you were with us on Thursday night at Fusion then Gavin gave you some of the exciting snippets of news!

Another wonderful collaborative initiative for Scotland is the forthcoming launch of The European FinTech Digital Satellite Office in Edinburgh next month

This is a first for Scotland and for Europe and it is brilliant to be collaborating with our friends in the EU to make this significant investment happen with the University of Edinburgh and Scottish Enterprise.

This Digital Office will invest in academic research in fintech as well as new start up fintech enterprises. Watch this space for more.

The collaboration with Scotland’s world leading universities is a hugely important and it was a real pleasure to be invited to speak to Heriot Watt students on career opportunities in fintech by the inspiring David Steinberg.

The talent from all disciplines is becoming an even stronger pull with international fintech enterprises, Datafest is a fantastic two weeks of sharing this with the world.

Terrific to work with MBN Solutions and Deloitte with excellent fringe meet up events as part of DataFest.

I shared this and the wider talent and diversity attraction of Scotland with long standing innovator and friend Nish Kotak of Talecco on his recent visit to Edinburgh.

Very much looking forward to working with Nish to encourage some large enterprises to come to Scotland.

The week finished off with the quarterly FinTech Scotland board meeting expertly chaired and hosted by David Fergusson at the impressive Nucleus Financial offices.

A very valuable and constructive conversation on the longer term future strategy for FinTech Scotland as we look to the next stage of our journey.

It was great to have Digital Minister Kate Forbes join us for the discussion and I am looking forward to progressing over the coming months.


Running Love

My running love has been hugely strained over this last two weeks as illness and unusual toe injury have meant I have not run for a fortnight!

Going from running 55+ miles a week to none is really tough in so many ways although the intensity of the fintech engagement and presentations has taken my mind of this a little bit.

However, it has even more reinforced my passion and love for running and I hope to be back on the road and the Spring races in the next week.

With trips to the EU in Brussels and Dublin to build Scotland fintech collaboration over the next two weeks I am hoping to take my love of running and fintech to Europe! Until next time.