Fortnightly FinTech Fuse – The Buzz from a New York Fintech Mission!

Much of this last fortnight has been across the North Atlantic on a fintech mission to one of the world’s largest fintech centres, New York.

An action packed mission of meetups, presentations and conversations sharing examples on how Scotland’s fintech innovation is positively reshaping the financial sector has left me buzzing.

As I reflect on this buzz and start to write this fortnight’s blog on the plane journey home, I am struggling a bit on how best to share so many insights in a few hundred words. But here goes!

FinTech Meetup Buzz

Last Thursday it was straight of the plane and onto a one of New York’s major monthly fintech meet up events with Kevin Reynolds from SDI and Mark Roger from Vivolution.

The place was buzzing and we were made most welcome by Empire Starts Up team and engaging people from fintech firms such as Henry O’Brien from Quovo and Kim Lytle from Socure as well as larger firms such as Iris Otano from Bank of America.

The event focused around a fascinating ‘fireside chat’ with Brandon Krieg one of the founders of fast growing fintech firm Stash Invest.
Brandon’s insights very much reminded me of many of Scottish fintech firms who are also focused on improving people financial well being.
We did not hesitate in suggesting to Brandon that the Stash fintech philopshy would be very much at home in Scotland when they were ready to expand to Europe.

The meet up buzz continued early the next morning at the Citi bank fintech event aptly named ‘politely confidential’.
Thank you to Maria Deam, the leader of Citi’s significant fintech developments, for inviting us to be part of the event

Terrific buzz from several hundred people and it was great to talk with leaders from exciting firms such as Gene Vayngib of Tradle and Joyce Fecci from FIS (a global fintech with a base in Fife).

From the stage much of the discussion centered around Open Banking and it was interesting to get the US perspective from Citi’s Andres Wolberg-Stok, a conversation that can continue at the Global Open Banking Summit in Edinburgh this coming December.

The buzz carried over to the fintech dinner on Monday evening that I was delighted to jointly host with Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh and George Baxter, chief executive of Edinburgh Innovations.
A wonderful group of senior leaders from diverse backgrounds kept a lively conversation going throughout the evening with topics ranging from fintech skills to the importance of fintech ethics.

It was a great opportunity for George and myself to share how Scotland is driving innovation through academia and industry collaboration.
Our guests for the evening provided us with terrific constructive feedback, especially on being much bolder in our ambition to be the top country for data driven fintech innovation!

Thank you to everyone for joining us for the dinner and we will take on board your valuable insights, especially in how we promote Scotland’s fintech buzz to the world.

FinTech Innovation Buzz

Promoting the virtues of the growing fintech community in Scotland was on the agenda for the meeting we had with Paul Barnes-Hoggett, Co-Founder of Alice, the rapidly expanding fintech helping customers with their regular spending commitments.

The innovative Alice story is hugely inspiring and their enterprise would be a wonderful addition to the Scottish fintech community when the time is right, hopefully in the near future.

Similarly, for Intenta, the early stage data analytics enterprise which already has a global reach through its founder Gudmundur Kristjansson.
Thank you to Robert Patrick of Citi for the introduction and an enjoyable discussion with George, Kevin and myself at the buzzing Roxy.

I’m looking forward to expanding the conversation with Gudmundur’s Icelandic fintech colleagues to develop mutual grounds for fintech collaboration and innovation.

On the subject of innovative use of data, it was great to catch up with the brilliant Peter Avery on 5thAvenue on Monday morning to hear about his exciting new venture Kalpada.

Knowing Peter for a few years I know his innovative approach to customer decisioning in financial services, will be destined for big success. I hope we can bring the buzz of Kalpada to Scotland soon.

I met Peter initially when he helped me deploy innovative IBM technology to improve customer financial engagement a few years back and it was IBM in New York I returned to on Friday afternoon.
Mark Roger and I had the opportunity to catch up with Stephen Leonard, General Manager for IBM North America, who has been hugely supportive of FinTech Scotland.

This was followed by an afternoon immersion in the latest IBM Watson developments at the impressive Astor Place centre.
Thank you Susan McLardy and team for setting up, we came away buzzing on the potential of how AI can fuel fintech innovations in Scotland at scale. We’re looking forward to progressing with Simon Pink and the IBM team.

Fintech Scale Buzz

The mission to New York provided the opportunity to learn how fintech is being applied at scale with some of the larger financial institutions.

It was great to catch up with Camilla Garcia, Francesca Lorenzini and Maksim Malukoff at the UK Dept of International Trade to share how we can connect more Scottish fintech firms into the New York buzz.

Kevin and I look forward to working with you in developing the two way fintech mission opportunities as well as the potential investment avenues.

I was hugely impressed to learn about global leaders Franklin Templeton approach to embracing fintech innovation through enterprise wide collaboration.
It was brilliant to hear engaging leaders Cihan Kasikara and Ed McGraw explain their model of innovation which positively engages all parts of the vast Franklin Templeton business.

We’re looking forward to welcoming Cihan and Ed over to Edinburgh soon when visiting their Edinburgh office.

We also hope to meet up with Remzil Kulkarni of Barclays over in Scotland soon as well with much excitement about the expansion plans in Glasgow announced recently.
Great to catch up with Remzil in New York and hear about the scale of the Barlcays data operations.

On the subject of data, it was really useful to catch up with Quinten Fourie of Thomas Reuters to explore how we could work together in supporting fintech firms through a data sandbox similar to the one they have helped develop in Boston.

The scale of the data opportunity for fintech innovation in a broad range of areas is enormous and the meeting with the terrific Morgan Stanley leaders Khalid Rafiq, Keith O’Donnell, Eve Wallace and Robert Keenan before I set off for New York very much highlighted this.

Thank you to the brilliant Morgan Stanley team for the opportunity to share the Fintech Scotland plans with your teams at your fantastic new offices in Glasgow. I look forward to supporting your plans both sides of the Atlantic.

I also look forward to seeing Eve Wallace, the Orca team and Chris Brown of Deloitte this Friday night at the Glasgow University FinTech Society event on, a great example of collaboration which is creating a big buzz in Scotland.

Futures Institute Buzz

Scotland’s world leading universities play an ever growing role in developing the fintech opportunities, from skills development to collaborative innovation through to inspiring new start up enterprises.

Therefore, a key reason for the mission to New York this last couple of weeks was to support the wider programme of University of Edinburgh events and specifically the development of the Edinburgh Future Institute.

For example, on Monday it was exciting to participate in the Global Change Forum workshop session at the Tata Innovation Centre bringing together academia and industry.

The engaging presentations from Dr Karen Gregory and Professor Sian Bayne on the visionary role of the new Edinburgh Future Institute created a terrific buzz
This is very exciting that fintech is a key area of this development and talking this through with a wide range of people such as Jillian Powers and Frank Cogliano.

The following morning a breakfast event with the Global Scot community in New York expanded on the important role EFI will play, with the inspiring Professor Melissa Terras bringing alive the potential of the initiative to be based at the Old Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

Then an evening reception organized by Grant Spence and Rachelle Norry later that day with the University’s significant alumni group in New York provided the opportunity to share the buzz with an even broader audience.
Our inclusion in the strategic EFI development is a big statement in how fintech can play a major role in the economy and society, as well as contribute to the global fintech ambitions.

The significant role of universities in demonstrating the global role of fintech was also a key part of the discussions I had with Adrian Gillespie of Strathclyde University on progressing joint initiatives.
The exciting initiatives will further reinforce Strathclyde University along with Edinburgh as major driving forces, especially with the increasing engagement of larger enterprises.

Similarly, with Heriot Watt University, another highly respected University who focused their Edinburgh Business event on fintech the weekend before I set off for New York.

It was a privilege to join David Richardson of the University, Colin Garland of Competitions & Markets Authority and Stephen Flaherty of JP Morgan on the Friday evening to present to students at the restored Panmure House home of Adam Smith.

Wonderful to see the high levels of engagement in fintech and diversity of international students from all parts of the world and Scotland. Nicola, who participated in the judging on Saturday, and I were hugely impressed.

Massive congratulations to Elisabeth Wold, Lucy Patton and Eoin Spence and colleagues for brilliant leadership in running the very successful event and well done to the winning team.

Heriot Watt University are also leading on the Ethical Finance Initiative and it was through their conference a few weeks ago I met Gail Hurley from the United Nations Development Programme.

To continue our conversation on the potential role of fintech with the UNDP programme, Gail arranged for us to meet up at the New York HQ along with inspiring colleagues Malika Bhandarkar and Martin Sommerschuh.
Fabulous conversation on areas where we could potentially collaborate and build on their exciting developments with Karen Rodgers and the Scottish Government team.

Scotland’s Buzz

On Thursday it was straight off the return flight in Edinburgh and onto the ‘Thrive in a Digital Age conference and the excellent RBS conference centre.
It was a privilege to be invited to share insights on career opportunities to several hundred attendees and along with John McKinley of DLA, Jenny Wood of RBS and Hugo Pinto of Accenture.

Tammy Hu, Aramide Akinkugbe, Mat Del Percio and the team did a magnificent job in leading the fabulous and buzzing event, all big stars for the future and you should all be very proud.

Unfortunately, I could not stay for the networking as I had to speed off to the Dentsu Aegis Whitespace offices for the ‘Building Scotland Brand’ event with creative community.

Once again, the atmosphere was buzzing following excellent sessions by Cat Leaver, Charlie Smith and Stef Calcraft bringing alive ‘Scotland Is Now’.
It was great to join the panel with Iain Valentine, Cat, Margaret Gibson , all expertly chaired by Chris Marsh

Adding to the positive buzz with feedback fresh from New York was a terrific way to finish off the day, even if my body clock could not quite work out what time it was!
On the way home, I reflected on how the buzzing fortnight had started in catching up with the awesome Rab Campbell from the wonderful Wallet Services team. Thanks Rab, lots to follow up on.

Catching up on my emails, it was inspiring to hear about the fantastic success of the Money Matix financial hackathon last weekend at the University of Edinburgh.
Looking forward to hearing more from Tynah, Helene and Mickael.

Marathon Buzz

When over in New York my buzz was maintained over the weekend by squeezing in a marathon on the Sunday in Harrisburg, a three hour journey from the east coast.
With only 1500 runners it was not quite the size of the New York marathon but the buzzing atmosphere and support from the super people of Pennsylvania was just fantastic.

Infact, at times, the buzz of the event made it quite emotional as I paced through the 26.2 miles, coming in fourth in the ‘old persons’ age category and the number one international runner!!

The buzz and adrenalin from the marathon fueled me for the ‘marathon’ of meetings and events which then continued in New York from Monday morning.

Finally, then, a massive thank you to Kevin Reynolds from Scottish Development International for joining me on this ‘marathon mission’ and to Scott McQuarrie for fantastic leadership in making the University events a very big success.
Brilliant working with you in sharing the buzz of Scotland’s fintech ambitions. Until next time..