CEO of FinTech Scotland, Stephen Ingledew, discusses the future of financial services technology

A concept image to illustrate FinTech Scotland
© iStock/Chunumunu

SciTech Europa attended the launch event of the EIT Digital Scottish Satellite in Edinburgh. The new satellite will enhance the FinTech sector in Scotland by opportunities for global collaboration.

We spoke to the Stephen Ingledew, the CEO of FinTech Scotland, to discuss the economic significance of FinTech Scotland, how Brexit will impact the FinTech sector, and the importance of inclusion in the financial services industry.

How important is Fintech to the Scottish economy? What are the main challenges involved in establishing Scotland as a world leader in this sector?

FinTech Scotland is crucial to Scotland, because financial services is a significant part of the Scottish economy, and for the financial services sector to be sustainable and relevant in the world going forward, it needs to innovate. FinTech Scotland is that engine of innovation into financial services.

The challenge is to ensure that we have the right talent coming through from new schools and from across the world. We are very inclusive, and we believe in the importance of diversity. People come here to live, work, contribute to financial services in Scotland and set up businesses here. It is important for us to get the message out there that we are open, and we want people to come and live, work, and enjoy Scotland.

Given that the Scottish government would like to enhance its relations with the EU moving forwards, what challenges will Brexit pose to the country’s Fintech sector? How could these be overcome?

We share similar values and mindset with our European partners. So because we start off on that basis, we are all on the same page. We believe in the same idea, that innovation happens through collaboration and by being inclusive. Sharing the same values is essential, as we are united in the way we want to achieve our goals.

The aim is to find the practical ways in which small businesses in Scotland collaborate with big businesses in Europe to innovate, and vice versa, as the innovative small businesses in Europe also have the opportunity to come to Scotland and help some of the big international players such as JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Barclays.

It is not about being better than Europe, it is about working in collaboration with all parts of Europe. To give an example, last week I was in Dublin working with the Irish government and Irish FinTech services. These types of collaborations will allow us to continue to drive innovation, even with any Brexit developments that may happen.

How important is the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCOE) and how is Fintech Scotland involved?

The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence is an important development for innovation. This is thanks to the energy of the businesses and financial institutions we have here, combined with the academic laboratory where we can experiment with financial and other types of data.

It is important to share these innovations with the rest of the world. Scotland is famous for invention banking, life insurance, and the pin system used in ATMs. We would like to see what we invent here used around the world. The idea behind the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence is open banking. We encourage European entrepreneurs, businesses, and academics to come here and use the data to experiment.

Looking forward, what would you say the future holds for FinTech Scotland and Fintech in Scotland, and how important are relationships with organisations like EIT Digital?

FinTech Scotland’s relationship with EIT Digital is terrific, because it is another factor contributing our journey of innovation. We collaborate around the world and we share the same viewpoint of valuing inclusion, diversity, and delivering positive societal impact as well as financial impact.

FinTech is important for Scotland because it is reinventing financial services, both economically but also for society. The role of FinTech Scotland, therefore, is behind the scenes. We connect the entrepreneurs, big companies, academics, students, and consumers, s well as those that have perhaps become disenfranchised due to not having good quality financial services previously. The Scottish government is very supportive of this aim.

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