Bridging the Fintech gap

A recent webinar explored the burgeoning opportunities for FinTech companies in the UK. Organised by Fintech NZ, located in New Zealand, the virtual event brought together practitioners, professional advisers and even the Lord Mayor of London to launch the FinTech NZ’s most recent report, ‘FinTech Future’.

The report outlines the opportunities in the fintech sector for greater cross-border trade and investment between the UK and New Zealand. As the world adapts to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand and the UK look to launch a Free Trade Agreement to provide an opportunity to bring our fintech communities closer

The fact that New Zealand’s fintech sector is the fastest-growing component of the technology sector certainly helps: The five-year compound annual growth rate is 37.6 percent and five-year revenue growth is $705 million (approx. £365 million), according to the New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

The report sets out some of the existing links between the two nations and calls for the creation of a formal UK-New Zealand fintech agreement (whether as part of an FTA or separately) that would formalise closer government to government, regulator to regulator, and trade promotion agency co-operation to support fintech companies entering each other’s market.

For Paul Beare, who took part in the webinar as the DIT’s resident expert on assisting foreign companies set up in the UK, the report was further proof that NZ’s fledgling startups can prosper in the UK’s more developed space.

“It shows how much they can achieve in the UK with their tech solutions just waiting to be developed by UK investors and engineers. We’ve worked closely with many of these businesses, including Hedgebook to help them bridge the gap and really gain a foothold in the UK.”

“It’s really timely that we’re gathering together today,” said Sharron Drew from DIT. The Trade & Investment arm of the British Government, which works with a number of bodies in NZ to bring not only the domestic players closer together but also bridging the gap between the two countries.

“Fintech is coming to the fore in the Covid-19 era, with a huge migration away from cash towards contactless payments. And the investment base is widening as a result.”

And she pointed out that tech will be the driver of the UK’s post-Brexit landscape as it seeks to forge new trading relationships across the world.

Fintech has an especially exciting part in that, as the Rt Hon William Russell, London’s current Lord Mayor, explained in a special message form London. “Fintech as enabled finance to innovate during the crisis and marks a great way to collaborate between the UK and NZ. We believe this can be a central part of our FTA with NZ and we wish you all the best of luck with your work.”

Andreas Heuser is an advisor at Castalia who specializes in helping fintech companies. He said that the report highlighted the very positive relationship between the two countries, with their cultural and financial links already well established.

“In addition to that, there is a wide pool of talent in the UK for NZ companies to tap into as they grow into the UK, and most NZ companies report feeling positive about the UK as a destination. However, there were some gripes about some of the regulatory hurdles that companies must overcome to get set up, such as opening a bank account and employing staff.

“But the FCA’s regulatory sandbox and other industry support initiatives make the UK a really great place to grow a fintech business in,” he concluded.

As for the future, the report calls for fintech bridge much like the existing one between the UK and Australia to be created for NZ. “We’d also like to see easy wins like more sector-led collaboration across both countries to tell the story of fintech to governments to bridge the understanding gap,’ said Andrew Dentice, Hudson Gavin Martin.

Anyone interested the accessing the webinar, which covered a whole range of topics, can find a recording here.

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