Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – FinTech Community from Aberdeen to Amsterdam via Dublin!

One of the really enjoyable aspects of my role is the sense of community around fintech, a community that stretches well beyond the traditional boundaries of financial services and technology.

The way that Scotland embraces diverse and dynamic communities is a going to be a key ingredient to our fintech success and the reason why inclusion sits alongside innovation and collaboration as a core value of FinTech Scotland.

This community ethos was very much in evident during our action packed visit to Aberdeen last week

Aberdeen Community

It was wonderful to meet up with the Aberdeen community for the “Exploring Aberdeen’s FinTech Ambition’ event organized by Elevator and their charismatic leader Jules Lancastle.

The exploring came alive hearing from entrepreneur Chris Herd and how his enterprise Nexves can play a role in transforming how people engage with money was enthralling and very exciting.

Similarly, when Duncan Hart explained how his DeepMiner business is enabling more personal engagement with consumers.

Then it was brilliant to catch up with Ike Ibekwe to learn about his innovative MyPropoertyPlus’ enterprise is applying fintech in the property sector

Earlier in the day I had the opportunity to share Scotland’s fintech opportunities at the Digital Cities event organsied by FutureScot sharing the platform with Jackie Doyle of Opportunity North East. Community wide innovation is certainly very much alive in Aberdeen.

This was further brought alive when we visited the amazing Oil and Gas Technology Centre and Luca Corradi shared with us how creating the right environment and a blend of people can lead to new innovations. There is much fintech can learn from the oil and gas sector in driving innovation through community hubs.

Big thanks to Steve Harrison for organising our action packed engagement with the Aberdeen community where fintech certainly has an important role to play in the future.

The community theme was also very much part of the conversation when I shared the fintech opportunities with the Glasgow Economic Leadership team on Monday evening and how these could be developed in collaboration across the financial services sector, universities and public sector.

Thanks to Mark Napier of JP Morgan for this opportunity and I look forward to supporting the Glasgow community further demonstrate its fintech innovation and deliver great economic results.

Social Community

The focus on community ensures that social as well as economic benefits from fintech are developed in tandem for all and this is a powerful strength of Scotland’s fintech ethos

This was the focus of the “How can fintech be a positive agent for social change’ event at Strathclyde University Business School on Thursday.

It was wonderful to have such a dynamic and diverse full house audience for the fabulous event organised by the Scotsman and brilliantly chaired by David Lee.

It was a privilege to be on the platform along with fintech pioneers Alison McHugh of Gigly and Loral Quinn of Sustainably along with the inspiring Louise Smith of RBS discussing how fintech can be, and is, a real force for good.

Thank you to Daniel Broby and Tim Bedford from Strathclyde University for their deep thought provoking insight on the fintech opportunities along with Andrew Berry and David Goodbrand for making it an engaging conversation

The discussions afterwards with people from all generations and backgrounds brought to life for me even more what a fabulous community with a strong social purpose is being created through fintech.

Many of you know that the social community aspect from reinventing financial services through technology has been the big motivating force throughout my 35 plus years career.

And at a very emotional level, the importance of fintech in driving good social outcomes really came to the fore when I met two amazing people, Tynah Matembe and Helene Rodger, to learn about the wonderful work by their enterprise MoneyMatiX.

Hearing how Tynah and Helene are using technology to create financially literate communities through innovative programmes for young people in Edinburgh and the Lothian region, filled me with absolute joy.

Especially when I began to understand how their work is focused on communities which historically have been overlooked by traditional financial services. This is how fintech innovation is such a powerful enabler for financial inclusion. Wow!

Innovation Community

Fintech innovation will be such a positive force when it is based around communities and this is very much the case when you create the right environment for a diverse set of people to come together.

This is exactly how Prudential M&G are establishing their new environment in Edinburgh, a people focused place focused on creativity, empowerment, progressive thinking and openness.
Going along to the official opening of this new innovation space last week and seeing as well as feeling the buzz was something very special. It was also really good to see some old friends enjoying the new Prudential community (Dave, Michael). This was a traditional financial business, with very much a community heritage, embracing and leading in the new fintech age.

The insightful and progressive leadership of David Macmillan and Richard Caldicott along with the rest of the terrific team means that one of the world’s oldest financial services companies is very much a driving force in Scotland’s fintech community. Watch this space for more.

The time at Prudential M&G reinforced to me that even in this digital age, collaborative physical spaces have a really big role to play in generating innovation throughout the fintech community.

So, it was great to meet with Susan and Richard from Ekosgen a few days ago who will be carrying an analysis on behalf of Scottish Enterprise and ourselves on how we can build on the existing great accelerator and incubator spaces going forward across Scotland

Of course, innovation communities are not just about spaces alone and connecting people to help fintech enterprises grow is fundamental to making businesses sustainable.

In this respect delighted that we will be working closely with the hugely experienced and excellent Mark Roger, Andrew McGee and team at Vivolution to help fintech enterprises connect to the right relationships to support their innovations and growth, whether that be for funding or support services. More on this exciting new partnership in the community to come soon.

Banks have an important role in our communities and radically transforming an established financial business, CYBG, to focus on customers evolving financial needs was the focus of the talk at the terrific FWB Park Brown dinner last Thursday evening, Great to hear from Helen Page on leading the CYBG fintech journey.

The dinner was a great opportunity for me to share Scotland’s innovation ambitions to an audience beyond financial services, from the renewable energy sector to the accountancy profession. Reaching out to wider communities provides more opportunities to drive new innovations.

With this in mind it was terrific to catch up with the insightful Amanda Fergusson and Paul Wakefield from the Marketing Edinburgh team on connecting into the wider community activity around Edinburgh to spread the fintech innovation message as well as on the global stage.

Global Community

Being very much part of a global fintech community is key to our international ambitions and, therefore, it was great to hear about the new European relationships Mickael developed at the Amsterdam FinTech Festival this week.

We are looking forward to working with the Money 2020 team to bring this global fintech festival activity to Scotland in the near future. Thank you to the Dutch hosts for their wonderful hospitality

In the meantime, this week, I am here in very sunny Scotland to develop global collaboration opportunities through the Scottish and Irish Finance Initiative event on Wednesday night, expertly organized by the engaging David Clarke.

Fabulous event to share the respective Scotland and Ireland fintech developments and it was great to be alongside Pete ‘rock star’ Townsend, Andreas Hoepner and Government Minister Derek Mackay.

Massive thanks to Andy O’Callaghan, Allan McGrath and Cathorina Finlay of PWC for hosting such an excellent “North Atlantic ‘fintech’ corridor’ event.

Working with our strategic partners Pinsent Mason and Dentsu Aegis we are already developing those mutual Scotland and Ireland fintech opportunities and looking forward to the return in Dublin later in the year.

Running Community

I’m hoping the return event in Ireland may coincide with a bit of community running such as the Dublin marathon!

After a really enjoyable Edinburgh marathon a week last Sunday with a time of 3.25, I now feel ready to push on and work towards the sub three hour time that I still dream about!!

So, focus is on building up running speed over these Summer months and the next race is the Glasgow 10km a week on Sunday finishing in George Square.

I’ll be wearing my fintech community ‘colours’ so please give me a cheer if you out on the Glasgow streets and see me aim for a seasonal PB! Until next time