New Report Shows Since the Pandemic the UK’s Fintech Industry Is Much Less London-centric
A newly-published report from findexable that algorithmically ranks cities and countries around the world according to the number and success of their financial technology (‘fintech’) companies has shown that London remains the second most active city in the world, behind San Francisco, but that the fintech space in the rest of the UK is expanding rapidly. This comes as fintech itself is booming: Mastercard data shows that in the first quarter of 2020, there was a larger shift to digital payments in 10 weeks than there had seen in the preceding five years.
As a major centre in world finance for centuries and a thriving technology hub it is no surprise that London is home to a number of world-class fintechs and is the centre of the country’s thriving ‘challenger bank’ sector. Findexable is the first organisation to use a proprietary algorithm to rank cities according to their relative fintech strength, proving that the UK is a major power in the space.
The 2021 Global Fintech Rankings, powered by Mambu, identifies emerging hubs, fintech companies and trends. The Index algorithm ranks the fintech ecosystems of more than 264 cities across 83 countries incorporating data from findexable’s own records and collated and verified by its Global Partnership Network, including Crunchbase, StartupBlink, SEMrush and 60+ fintech associations globally. The index was first published in 2019 and has seen a huge uptake by the fintech industry.
However, many cities outside of London are developing into thriving fintech hubs. Birmingham entered the rankings at 123, Cardiff came close after at 127. Although London is by far the largest fintech hub in the UK, the growth of what the report identifies as ‘tertiary hubs’ is promising.
Although growth in large English cities like Manchester and Birmingham is to be expected, as is the presence of fintechs in cities near London like Cambridge and Brighton, the report showed surprising growth in other British cities like Cardiff (ranked 127th) and Newcastle upon Tyne (ranked 155th), both of which were new entries this year. There were also significant climbs from Cambridge, Edinburgh, Belfast and Glasgow. This said, currently only London and Manchester are home to the headquarters of ‘Unicorn’ companies, privately held start-ups with valuations over $1 billion.
This growth in previously underserved areas echoed a theme seen across the world. The report showed huge growth in the number of countries and cities being listed: more than 50 new cities and 20 new countries joined the index for being home to at least ten fintech companies. The report found that even during a year of significant economic downturn and serious disruption, fintech companies were being launched and significant investment was being made in the sector, more than doubling the value of fintech unicorns as a group from $199 billion to $440 billion.
This speaks to one of the report’s larger themes, which is that fintech is bridging gaps in consumers’ lives, many of them revealed or made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from Mastercard showed that in the first quarter of 2020 there was a greater shift to digital banking in ten weeks than there had been in the previous five years. Fintech can no longer be dismissed as a fad but is a part of billions of peoples’ lives – ‘fintech for all rather than the few’. However, there is a significant gap between major players and the next generation of innovators in terms of funding that needs to be addressed to keep the industry moving forward with new ideas. There also remains a gap between the customers of fintechs – women are often early adopters, while emerging markets are sources of giant user bases – and the people leading them.
Findexable’s founder and CEO Simon Hardie explains: “The UK continues to be a major player in fintech, but unlike the larger finance sector it is moving away from being largely London-based. We are seeing how investment in creating technology hubs in secondary cities is translating into the creation of thriving communities and viable companies. We have even seen fintech companies emerge in towns like Macclesfield, Ashford, Caerphilly and Inverness.”
He adds: “It is part of a greater push toward bridging the gap between companies and their customers that we have identified happening across the world since the annual report started in 2019, but which has accelerated in the last 12 months as a result of the pandemic driving more people to use digital finance. Where there are more customers there will be more businesses, and in an innovation-driven sector like fintech that translates to greater chances for new ideas that can shake up the entire industry.”
Elliott Limb, Mambu’s Chief Customer Officer, comments: “Fintechs are part of a global revolution to make financial services easier, faster and simpler, and the UK is a major part of this. They are changing the way we save, spend, borrow, and invest money. Whether competing, cooperating or supporting traditional financial institutions, they are reshaping digital services for a real-time, on-demand world.”
For the purpose of the Index algorithm, fintech is any business that applies a technologically enabled innovation specifically geared for the provision or distribution of financial services.
The country and city rankings were calculated from a total score comprised of a combination of three metrics:
- Quantity – Size of fintech ecosystem and supporting structures – number of fintechs, fintech hubs, co-working spaces, accelerators, global influencers and population (countries only)
- Quality – Impact/performance – size and growth of fintechs (e.g. number of unicorns), investment, events, value generation, international collaboration, website ranking
- Environment – ease of doing business, critical mass, regulatory environment – regulatory interventions to improve competitive environment, incentives for start-ups, internet censorship, payment portals, fintech courses.
To learn more and download a copy of the report, visit: https://findexable.com/
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