It’s time to write the next chapter in the City’s story of technological innovation

Peter Estlin
Lasers light up the  night sky from the
London’s offer to fintech startups is truly unique (Source: Getty)

When I travel across the globe, there is an issue I get asked about time and time again: what is it about London that makes it such a successful global financial hub? And what is it about the UK that makes us stand out from the crowd?

A key part of the answer is innovation.

Whether it’s the goldsmith bankers in the seventeenth century who laid the foundations of modern banking by lending the world’s first cheques to merchants trading in the City, or the likes of Edward Lloyd, the father of the modern insurance industry, or – more recently – the issuance of the first automated cryptocurrency bond, innovation has always been part of London’s fabric.

That’s still the case today. Just last month, figures published by the City of London Corporation and the City Property Association placed London ahead of the likes of New York, Singapore, and Paris as the top location worldwide for innovation that increases revenue.

Clearly, the lines between finance and technology are becoming ever more blurred.

It is fitting, therefore, that the City of London will play a central role in UK Fintech Week. Guildhall will be welcoming the Innovate Finance Global Summit later this month, one of the world’s foremost fintech conferences, while Mansion House will host a reception celebrating UK fintech success stories.

London’s offer to fintech startups is truly unique, given the physical proximity of one of the world’s premier financial centres to Europe’s most invested tech sector.

In comparison, Silicon Valley is more than 2,500 miles away from Wall Street.

This cluster of talent and creative energy means that, according to Deloitte, London is best in the world for fintech, accounting for 11 per cent of the global fintech industry. And 31 of 2018’s “Fintech 50” firms ranked for innovation are based here.

The benefits for the UK economy are obvious, with the sector – worth more than £7bn here – employing more than 75,000 people nationwide. That is expected to surge to well beyond 100,000 by 2030. Indeed, in just five years, we have seen a 31 per cent increase in London’s information and communications jobs.

The flourishing of the fintech industry underscores the need for the City to prepare for and embrace the fourth industrial revolution.

My mayoral agenda, Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today, aims to promote this innovation and champion the digital skills that can enable us to create a more inclusive and sustainable global economy for the future.

In order to achieve that, it is vital that London continues to attract top talent – international workers, after all, make up 38 per cent of London’s highly-skilled tech workforce.

So as well as working with the government to ensure that future immigration policy supports this objective, it is vital that we continually strive to boost the City’s already considerable appeal to domestic and international talent, through a mixed offering of flexible workspace, culture, and lively public spaces.

This is a hugely exciting time for the UK fintech industry, with opportunities for growth both domestically and internationally. Together, we can write the next chapter in the City’s story of innovation.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.