In July, the Prime Minister set off on a trade mission to Asia to beat the UK FinTech drum, along with business leaders from British companies such as Aviva, Rolls Royce and Lloyds of London. Speaking ahead of the trip, Cameron highlighted that “over the next 20 years, 90% of global growth is expected to come from outside Europe and Britain must be poised to take advantage.”
We’ve had Asia in our sights for some time now and our latest funding round, including investment from Rakuten’s FinTech Fund unlocks a significant and strategic new opportunity for us. Outside of Japan, Rakuten is best known as an e-commerce firm, but it has also been enormously disruptive in re-imagining the financial services arena. Their involvement adds a new dimension to our global ambition as we consolidate relationships with technology and banking partners. We’re not the only ones looking East - it’s clear that there’s already a huge appetite for FinTech in the Asian market.
Last year, Accenture took its FinTech Innovation Lab to APAC, to help encourage start-up growth in the area, following the success of the programme in London and New York. More recently, Startupbootcamp, Europe’s leading accelerator program for start-ups, also made its way to Singapore to provide funding, mentorship and access to a global network of investors and VCs, for up to 10 selected FinTech start-ups. Just last month, London based private equity firm Apis Partners announced a fund of $157 million focused on developing FinTech start-ups in Asia and Africa. For UK FinTech firms wanting to spread their wings beyond the UK and the US, Asia is an exciting prospect indeed.
In many ways, the Asian market is a completely different ballgame to the UK, different regulators, different challenges, but there are also some big similarities. The digital revolution has broken down barriers between countries, and between industries. The financial flows that we see moving across the world is just one measure of global interconnectedness. International commerce means international payments – a growth area that is not restricted to the growth of the ‘host’ economy, but has almost infinite potential.
The UK is rapidly growing its reputation as the FinTech capital of the world. However, if UK FinTech firms are to become truly global, they must make the most of the opportunities available out there, and be prepared to be ambitious looking beyond Europe and the US. We are enormously excited to be building links in Asia, with a view to expanding our business in this market over the next few years.