Interview with Stephen Ingledew on why fintech matters

Our CEO Stephen Ingledew was interviewed by the Enterprise Pathway Programme team from Strathclyde university.

He gave his view on why fintech matters, the impact it can have on society and why it provides exciting new jobs for the future.

What is Fintech?

Fintech is the blend of new technologies, digital including data, with the world of financial services. Now that's important because every one of us, in our personal and our working lives are impacted by the role of financial services. So Fintech is actually the opportunity to reinvent the way that those financial services are delivered through to all of us as individuals but also through to businesses as well

Why is it important to innovate in Fintech?

There's real importance behind Fintech, the opportunity here to innovate. One is because of our needs as consumers are changing, in terms of our expectation, the need to access good quality products, the need to understand our money in a far better way.
And secondly the opportunity to innovate comes from the new technologies. Of course the digital world whether it's the mobile phone, but the access to data, the use of artificial intelligence all provide new ways in which financial services can be delivered to us all.

What opportunities are there to innovate in fintech?

So there are a significant number of areas where there's an opportunity to innovate. The key is to start off with the human need, and so think of yourself as individuals, think of the communities you live in, think of those around you and how actually, if they had better access to financial products a better understanding the way that financial world works, the better use of financial data, and how that could improve accessibility and all the other benefits that come from that. And then work back to think, well actually, the new technologies can actually improve that engagement, can improve that experience
So the key with fintech is not to start with the fin tech is that you start with the human being and work back from that and then think about how new technologies can be applied in the future.
The big opportunity here, that students have, is that you can come at it with a fresh pair of eyes, fresh thinking and more diverse thinking. So rather than think: "how do we actually in a small way slightly improve some of the financial products?", actually, go back to the real need of why those products are in place, the way they're delivered, whether it's through a mobile phone or even through some other ways in a community.
So it's that fresh thinking, diverse thinking, you don't have to be a financial expert to be involved in fintech. In fact, sometimes, it's an advantage not to be a financial expert.

What support is available for fintech businesses?

Fintech in Scotland is particularly exciting because there is a an environment that's encouraging innovative new businesses such as Strathclyde University. Alongside that you've got an established financial services market, very big organisations, the big banks whether it's RBS, HSBC. the international banks, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are all here in Scotland and they all want to innovate.
If you blend that together with the opportunity of bringing together new enterprises with established enterprises and that University sort of pedigree you've got a real blend of all the key ingredients to generate a new innovative environment.

What examples are there in terms of existing fintech businesses?

So let's just take an example of an increasing number of people working in the gig economy. The gig economy is where your your working day your working week is up and down and therefore your pay is up and down and therefore how do you make sure the financial products relate to a much more variable way in which you earn money and want to earn money.
And when you work and when you don't work rather than the traditional approach expecting you're in a 9 to 5 job for 40 years. Those days have gone. Much more flexible working means much more flexible way in which people earn and their financial products need to relate to that.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in Fintech?

What I would really emphasise to the teams is the importance of focusing on the human need. The opportunity about meeting that need in a very different way, to deliver financial services in a better way.  I wouldn't focus really on the technicalities of how the products have worked in the past or how the taxes work or even how some of the technologies are being applied.
Don't get into the nuts and bolts of blockchain and artificial intelligence. There's enough out there really for that to be addressed at the right sort time. What's important with fintech is actually the focus around the need and the different ways that need can be met with a different type of thinking, diverse thinking again going forward that allows us to really make a real shift in the way that financial services is provided through to individuals and to businesses.
Actually fintech provides a real significant opportunity. Yet clearly from an economic point of view the opportunity for economic growth in financial services, very crucial to the Scottish economy. But also in terms of employment the new jobs of the future. But alongside that is the economic with the social benefits as one of the social outcomes greater inclusion more diversity a richer way in which more communities are engaging in financial services  rather than being left out or excluded. So this is an opportunity to combine those economic and social benefits alongside each other to the benefit of everybody.