Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – Purpose Driven FinTech

One thing that has really struck me since taking on the role at the start of the year to lead FinTech Scotland is the real sense of purpose behind the vibrant fintech innovation activity in Scotland

A purpose that goes beyond being commercially successful and creating job opportunities in Scotland but is driven by bigger overarching drive to improve people’s experience of financial services.

A brilliant example of this more significant motivating purpose was very much in evident when I met with the inspiring Phil Grady and the excellent team at Castlight Financial last week in Glasgow.

I was very much struck by Phil’s bold purpose of a “safer financial world for all’ and how this had a powerful meaning for the team members. It is no wonder Castlight Financial is successfully attracting attention in the financial world in Scotland and globally with its bigger purpose.

The same is true of Previse and my meeting with David Brown this week once again reinforced to me how their ambitious purpose of transforming trade finance to improve the well being of small enterprises is so important to all of us.

Collective Purpose

This purpose driven fintech becomes even more powerful when the collective forces of our ecosystem come together in Scotland to make a difference.

This was very much the case on Monday evening at the inaugural Open Banking Centre of Excellence meet up hosted at The ID.Co in Edinburgh with over 80 people from across the ecosystem. Listening to the stories of Colin Hewitt of Float, James Varga of The ID Co, Steve Tigar of Money Dashboard, Manu Peleteiro of InBest and Phil of Castlight showed to me we have the collective purpose in Scotland to make a progressive difference.

Especially when we have globally recognised leaders in the inspiring Gavin Littlejohn and Brian Costello of Yodlee championing how open banking fintech can make a positive contribution to citizens across the land.

Big thanks to Ross Laurie for making this inaugural meeting happen and be something we can build on going forward, more to follow soon.

Thank you also to Mickael, who stepped in for me to share Scotland’s existing fintech activity with the London community along with Paul Christensen of Previse, Kirsten Bennie of RBS and Graham Hatton of Scottish Development International last week. Great feedback on this.

A fabulous example of collaboration around a common purpose in action.

This was also the case at the SFE FinTech Group meeting a couple of weeks ago, thank you to Graeme Jones for the continuing valuable support in getting behind the collective purpose of Fintech Scotland.

Collaborative Purpose

Attending the Can Do Business Innovation Forum chaired by Government Minister Paul Wheelhouse on Tuesday was another example of the power of collective purpose through collaboration. Representatives from all sectors of the economy sharing how innovation can really drive inclusive growth and deliver positive outcomes for people and enterprises. I was particularly inspired when talking to entrepreneur Reemah Shanab and learning about her business Lucidly.

The Can Do meeting reiterated to me the benefits of cross sector collaboration to drive innovation and growth and this was further demonstrated when I met up with Alexander Holt to hear how CivTech is making such a huge difference in the public sector.

I’m sure Alexander won’t mind me saying but for me he is very much role model in driving real practical change with a strong sense of purpose. Alexander and his team have already been working with fintechs such as Wallet Services and there is much we can build on especially in the area of payments. Talking with Colin, Director of Digital at the Scottish Government further showed me we have a huge common purpose around this.

The broader collaborative purpose was very much in evident in my discussions with Maggie Craig at the FCA this last few weeks which is really valuable as the fintech ecosystem develops in Scotland

Funding Purpose

On Thursday, there was the opportunity to get together with Scotland’s many exciting fintechs enterprises from across the ecosystem at the Practitioners Forum.

The key areas of discussion were growing talent in Scotland and getting the right quality of investment in place and committed investors on board to help scale and grow. Terrific insights (again) from Stuart Lunn of LendingCrowd

My conversation with the impressive Steven Morris of ESM Investments this week was really insightful on how we could take some steps to address some of the funding issues in the fintech ecosystem at the moment.I am hoping to take forward a couple of ideas and they will certainly be forming a key part of the FinTech Scotland strategic plan and will be key if we are to achieve our ambitious goals for fintech in Scotland.

Another aspect I have on our strategic agenda is how to help fintech enterprises navigate the range of funding solutions available to them at present ranging from public funding through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Funds, to the University Innovations Funds to the mix of R&D relief allowances available.
In this respect, very appreciative of the guidance on public funding opportunities by Steve Harrison from Scottish Enterprise a positive change agent who is helping good ideas flourish in across the ecosystem.

Going forward, the focus hear will be to make sure we are much better at connecting the funds available to the innovators and entrepreneurs. In this respect, I’m delighted that Matt Smith, Kent Mackenzie and the Deloitte team will be playing a valuable role in helping us in these areas.

Skills Purpose

The other hot subject over the last fortnight and from fintech practitioners is finding talented people to support business growth and this is a subject I know Scotland can further excel in.
The visit to the Technology and Innovation Centre of Strathclyde University was a fantastic testament to the strength of the skills development taking place in Scotland at the moment. Wow!

Having a terrific working session with academic leaders from all part of the Strathclyde University highlighted how to me the new opportunities in fintech can be embraced and I am very excited on how we progress on a number of fronts together.

Big thanks to Adrian Gillespie and Team Strathclyde.

The bringing together of academia and industry was further brought alive on Thursday evening when I was given the opportunity to join a distinguished speaking panel at the University of Edinburgh Business School event.The subject was ‘Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin!” Captivating words from amazing Professor Chris Speed of Edinburgh College of Arts and insightful Tim Jones of Tibado meant I only needed to play a small bit part thankfully!  Brilliantly chair Bill McCall of Chartered Bankers Institute.

The fintech people skills agenda also presents the opportunity to bring alive our purpose of being more inclusive and I was delighted to catch up with the inspiring leader Promilla Caughey of EY Foundation.

Promilla’s work in creating opportunities for young people from less advantaged background is something we will very much embrace and part of the fintech bigger purpose.

Musical Purpose

My favourite music has always given me a strong sense of purpose beyond fintech and last Friday I had chance to see live one of my musical hero’s Swill at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh along with the legendary Bobby Valentino.

What a wonderful evening and I can’t wait to see Swill with the rest of the awesome band, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, back together again for the gig in Glasgow at King Tut’s in December, anyone want to join me for probably one of the best bands in the world!This weekend I’ll be running with purpose in a half marathon race, enjoying the beautiful city of Stirling as I prepare for the big Edinburgh marathon in four weeks! Until next time