Navigating 2024: Priorities from FinTech Scotland’s CEO, Nicola Anderson
As we step into the early months of 2024, I’m reflecting on the achievements and progress across the FinTech Scotland Cluster over the past six years, and am also focused on the year ahead to build on the work so far and enable more opportunities for fintech innovation.
The FinTech Scotland Cluster is a vibrant and diverse ecosystem that’s driven by contributions from a diverse range of committed participants focused on shaping the future of financial services. It goes without saying that technology is a critical focus, but we also find that there is a purposeful intent to the commitments to support the needs of a successful economy, one that’s becoming more and more digital.
It's the commitment from all involved in the Cluster that has resulted in a number of significant achievements over the years, including:
- Continued growth in fintech SMEs and fintech jobs,
- Greater collaboration between larger organisations and smaller fintechs,
- Development of new innovative products, services and partnerships that all ultimately deliver good customer outcomes, and
- A deepening focus on fintech R&D driven by the research excellence from the universities in Scotland and by collaboration on industry priorities in the FinTech Research and Innovation Roadmap (R&I Roadmap).
So, despite the challenging economic environment, I am optimistic about our opportunities for growth and innovation. In particular, I am looking forward to deepening our approach of ‘collaborate to innovate’, and the limitless potential this powerful combination offers. We see it working already, resulting in changes for customers, businesses, our economy and the environment, supporting future needs and the development of fintech-enabled financial services in Scotland and across the UK.
A new year brings an opportunity to assess our priorities for the year ahead. We’re focused on propelling our fintech cluster forward, deepening connections across the UK and the world, as well as accelerating fintech SME growth.
Innovation and Priorities in 2024:
The FinTech Scotland community of fintech SMEs continues to grow, with 227 businesses currently developing and delivering fintech products and services that meet business and citizen needs. Accelerating their success and enabling them to grow and scale requires a collective focus on investment, access to current market opportunities (which includes collaboration with financial institutions), and supporting their ambitions to export.
We’re spurred on by January triumphs already.
Snugg, a thriving fintech, kicked off the year by announcing success on both funding and collaboration that will help them expand and scale throughout 2024.
Broadridge Financial Solutions, a growing and global fintech, announced success in international markets working with Denmark’s Danske Bank, exporting services and continuing its global growth.
Encompass Corporation has also started the year off by continuing its global expansion and growth through acquisitions.
We will continue to focus on investment, growth and international opportunities for the fintech SMEs throughout 2024.
Working with the big and small
We saw growing success throughout 2023 in the fintech programmes delivered in association with Lloyds Banking Group, TSB and Phoenix Group. Within our approach of ‘collaborate to innovate’, more partnerships emerged, and fintech enterprises benefited from hearing about priority needs directly from the market.
There is more to come in 2024. ‘Collaborate to innovate’, through practical innovation programmes, will enable more potential for commercial opportunities and support new ways for market adoption of new and emerging technologies. We’re commencing the year with an innovation call on using AI and emerging technologies to help simplify compliance.
The role we see for R&D
In 2023, we launched the Financial Regulation Innovation Lab, with an agenda focused on how technology can simplify and support compliance, and help regulation develop. The Lab also creates an independent environment to enable industry collaboration on current and emerging challenges within financial services. It’s a privilege to work with all involved, including UK regulators, large financial institutions and fintechs, as well as the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow.
The Lab is kicking off 2024 with a collaborative research and innovation programme focused on AI and emerging technologies, and looking at their application in ESG regulations, Consumer Duty requirements and addressing Financial Crime. You’ll hear more about the progress throughout the upcoming year, and if you’d like to learn more now please let me know.
Financial inclusion continues as a pressing issue. The cost of living crisis has brought it into further focus and the FCA’s Financial Lives survey persists in demonstrating a need for change. Throughout 2024, we will work with Financial Inclusion for Scotland, the FCA and Scottish Financial Enterprise, and explore how technology and a heightened period of focus can help move the dial on this critical problem.
We’ve initiated this already, working in collaboration with the FCA on a Financial Inclusion TechSprint (more details can be found here). The Sprint is focused on helping to find ways to enable those excluded from basic financial services to get access. There’s a firm belief that technology can help, and that collaboration and a willingness to find solutions is key. The Sprint will run from March until the end of May, and conclude with an event in Glasgow. I’m starting 2024 hopeful we can drive change on this difficult agenda. The invitation to get involved is open to all.
Working on priority environmental issues
With the climate agenda critical to so many aspects of business and society, it's no surprise that fintech enterprises are working to find solutions and services that will help - indeed, the number of Scottish fintechs focused on climate doubled in 2023. In addition, we saw accelerated learning across the cluster through our work with Space Scotland, increasing our knowledge and understanding of geospatial data.
There is more to come through 2024 on the priority of climate finance. We’ll build on the lessons and experiences from Space Scotland, exploring application of geospatial data in insurance risks, investments, emerging regulatory requirements and ESG development.
Inclusive Cluster leadership
We will continue to work across the UK to advance fintech innovation. The FinTech Scotland team will continue to progress collaborative opportunities across the nation, working with the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT), the Fintech National Network, Innovate Finance and The City of London Corporation. We will work, learn and collaborate across the regions to accelerate the whole of the UK’s fintech potential.
We invite you to collaborate with us
We know purposeful collaboration is key - collaboration across the industry, across sectors, and amongst other fintech clusters - to help us drive and lead the future of the digital economy.
My call to action for 2024 is: Collaborate with us, and innovate.