Fortnightly Fintech Fuse – Fintech Fever Pitch!

Fintech fever has certainly ranked alongside the football world cup excitement and the beautiful summer over the last few weeks, with a huge amount of activity on Scotland’s fintech ‘pitch’.

The combination of fintech firms, the world cup and a lovely sunny afternoon were brought together a couple of weeks ago when we had an informal fintech practitioners meet up to watch the Brazil verses Costa Rica match at the Peartree.

Great to see many of the community join us, with the conversation more focused around fintech opportunities rather than the action on the big screen!

Ray Bugg, the terrific leader of Digit, and I agreed that it was more exciting to hear our diverse range of fintech friends, such as Orca Money, Money Matix and Agrud, share their stories with each other rather than the action on the big screen.

We were of course cheering for the Brazilian team because, as many of you know, they are twinned with the Scottish ‘Brazil in Blue team’ Cowdenbeath FC, from the Kingdom of Fife!

Fife FinTech

Of course, I would argue that Fife is more famous for fintech than football and it was fantastic to see the growth in region noted by the recent City UK report, highlighting it as one of Scotland’s key fintech clusters along with Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Looking forward, this growth has every prospect of continuing with firms such as Revovite Technologies expanding and the economic leadership in the region by people such as Iain Shirlaw with the focus on developing the talent pipeline through a fintech academy.

Developing fintech skills is a key priority and it was valuable to catch up with Gbenga Ibikunle from University of Edinburgh to help with the plans for a new unique degree in Fintech leadership to be launched soon.

Very excited about this development along with the launch by Napier University of their postgraduate fintech degree course

Together with the fantastic leadership by David Steinburg at various universities in ensuring we bring through the human dimension of fintech skills development, I am really optimistic we can work towards building the knowledge and skills for a successful global fintech centre.

Melrose FinTech

The various fintech skill development programmes will ensure we are well placed to support the growth across all parts of the country.

The importance of this was highlighted when I met up with the fantastic Andy Smith and Jason Forsyth of Melrose based fintech Agenor Iceflo to hear about how they have successfully taken their fintech proposition to the Middle East.

Hugely excited about supporting the team develop take their proposition in other parts of the financial services sector and global markets working with strategic partners IBM, Deloitte and Sopra Steria.

I’m very much looking forward to my trip down to the Borders to meet the whole Agenor Iceflo team in Melrose and developing the collaboration opportunities with the team at Vivolution, FinTech Scotland’s commercial partner in supporting fintech enterprise growth.

Working with specialist business consultants such as Vivolution is critical to supporting fintech firms maximise their opportunities in Scotland and internationally.

I do believe this will be a key strength going forward especially when I hear about the great work by people such as Alisdair Gunn at Framewire, Carey and Mark at Proposition Builder, Eddie Curran at CBS Consulting and David Reid at Because Brand Matter all supporting young developing firms to get to the next stage of growth.

This week I’ve also really enjoyed catching up with Sharon Ritchie and Lorraine Politi of Catax who very much complement the range of business consultants supporting fintech growth.

Furthermore, my recent catch ups with Susan Staiao and Pam Reid of Ekosgen on their research into the need for specific fintech environment has certainly emphasized the need find more effective ways to connect up fintechs with the right support

Leith and Linlithgow FinTech

This all reinforces the key role of Fintech Scotland in connecting up the various players in the fintech ecosystem so collaboration becomes a big driver of growth and innovation.

To this point, it was really motivating to meet with Catherine Bell, Managing Director of Leith based Mearns & Co to hear about their terrific ground breaking fintech innovation called Lightbox and discuss the various collaboration opportunities

As a further example, I had a fabulous catch up with the inspiring Stephen Marshall to talk about the exciting developments with his fintech business Insure Apps and connecting into the vibrant ecosystem.

I’m delighted I was able to connect Stephen with fellow Linlithgow residents Neil Cunningham and Robert McKechnie from our strategic partner Equifax to explore the mutual opportunities.

Bringing alive these collaboration examples is an exciting part of what we do and so it is super to be working with the brilliant Rory Archibald of Visit Scotland for the Innovate the Nation event in Stirling for September where we can share more.

Over this last couple of weeks I’ve also had great conversations with Paul Mosson of the Law Society of Scotland as well as Firas Khnaisser and Rachel Aldigheri of the Marketing Association on how we develop lateral collaboration to bring the fintech opportunities to wider communities.

Greenside and Gogarburn Fintech

A couple of weeks ago there was an opportunity to take a step back from the fever pitch of fintech activity and take stock on how far we had progressed since the start of the year at the first ever FinTech Scotland board meeting.

Hosted by the wonderful Nucleus Financial people at their Greenside offices and chaired masterfully by David Fergusson we had a very constructive Board discussion on what had been achieved to date and the priorities going forward.

I must admit I was a little bit nervous beforehand in bringing together such a diverse set of very successful leaders around the Board table, all with strong views on the potential for fintech in Scotland.

However, everybody gelled and after couple of hours of terrific engagement I was certainly enthused about realizing our ambition of becoming a leading global fintech centre. Thank you to the Board members for the collective endorsement and support.

This was then translated a few days later through the SFE Fintech Development Group meeting held at the RBS Gogarburn conference centre.

This meeting really got focused on how we execute the details of the FinTech Scotland plan over the coming months and was hosted chaired by Graeme Jones and Louise Smith.

Thank you to everyone who came along from the broad range of players across the ecosystem as well as to Janine Stewart and Murdo Connochie for making things happen on the day.

The early follow up conversations are very encouraging on progressing the various fintech opportunities, for example, meeting with Anurag Agrawi of Baillie Gifford at their Greenside offices and talking with Adam Pollock from RBS.

Dundee and Dunoon Running

I had the opportunity to reflect on the fever pitch of fintech activity when I was interviewed by Rob McLaren of the Dundee Courier, sometimes it is only when you take a step back and explain to someone what is going on that the scale of exciting activity becomes clear.

The opportunity to step back is one of the reasons I love my running to reflect on everything that is happening in the fintech community although my participation in the Dundee half marathon last Sunday was of less interest to Rob than the world of fintech!!

For me you can’t separate the important links between the two, I’m sure people like David Steinburg and many others will testify to this!

For example, my next race is a trip to the birthplace of fintech, the Kingdom of Fife for the famous Aberdour Donkey Brae seven mile race a week on Sunday.

This will be followed six days later by the Dunoon half marathon where I am hoping to come across some signs of fintech fever in this beautiful part of West Scotland! More on this next time.