UK international trade department unveils fintech match-making initiative

By on 22/12/2020 | Updated on 22/12/2020
The DIT campaign will focus on promoting British solutions in areas including regtech, robotic process automation and AI | Credit: Pete Linforth; Pixabay

The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has launched a campaign to encourage international financial institutions (IFIs) to invest in British fintech.

As part of the scheme, DIT will build a platform to help fintechs “connect with and advance commercial dialogue with IFIs” including asset managers, insurance and investment companies and banks. This “global ecosystem” will include the chance for fintechs to be matched with institutions.

The initiative begins with “priority markets” including Singapore, Australia and the US. It will promote British fintech solutions in areas including regtech (technology improves regulatory compliance), robotic process automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

The campaign, Leading Edge Global Partnerships Programme, also aims to “create the right conditions for new partnerships and trade and investment opportunities” as well as supporting “global financial and professional services relationships”.

The department wants to step up dialogue with overseas financial institutions to understand their needs and provide access to UK fintech companies. In turn, UK fintechs will receive support and advise on potential export opportunities. DIT aims to roll out the initiative to more countries in 2021.

Partnerships with three Singaporean banks

The launch of Leading Edge was announced as part of the Singapore FinTech Festival, which ran from 7-11 December. DIT used the event to announce partnerships with the three Singaporean banks: DBS (formerly known as the Development Bank of Singapore); OCBC Bank (Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation) and UOB (United Overseas Bank).

Investment minister Gerry Grimstone, also a former chair of Barclays bank’s investment arm, said: “At this year’s Singapore FinTech Festival, the UK is showcasing why collaboration and innovation are key pillars of our fintech philosophy and why digitisation is a core part of the future of financial services.”

The programme’s launch comes as the UK steps up its trade promotion activity worldwide in preparation for leaving the European Union (EU), the country’s nearest and largest trading partner. The Brexit transition period is due to expire on 31 December this year.

The UK’s international trade secretary, Liz Truss, was in Singapore on 10 December to sign a free trade agreement that largely mirrors an existing deal between Singapore and the EU. Truss and Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s minister for trade and industry, also announced their intention to launch negotiations for a digital economy agreement (DEA).

Leading Edge complements ‘Fintech Bridges’

The UK is home to about 1,600 fintech companies, a number expected to more than double by 2030, with fintech accounting for about 8% of the UK’s total financial services output, according to the DIT.

The initiative complements the UK’s ‘FinTech Bridges’ programme, which is seen as the government’s flagship international fintech policy. Launched in 2016, this scheme promotes the establishment of bilateral agreements between the UK and a priority market with the aim of facilitating trade flows. A UK-Singapore “bridge” launched in May 2016, and similar agreements with countries including Australia have followed. Leading Edge is not exclusive to FinTech Bridge markets.

About Ian Hall

Ian is editor of Global Government Fintech a sister publication to Global Government Forum. Ian also writes for media including City AM and #DisruptionBanking. He is former UK director for the pan-European media network Euractiv (2011-2018), editor of Public Affairs News (2007-2011) and news editor of PR Week (2000-2007). He was shortlisted for ‘Editor of the Year’ at the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) Awards in 2010. He began his career in Bulgaria at English-language weekly the Sofia Echo. Ian has an MA in Urban and Regional Change in Europe and a BA in Economics, both from Durham University.

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