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New City minister John Glen: “Fintech will change our lives”

The newly appointed minister for the UK’s financial sector offered up a bullish forecast for disruptive finance.

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The newly appointed minister for the UK’s financial sector offered up a bullish forecast for disruptive finance.

The new City minister John Glen has delivered a rallying cry to the UK fintech industry alongside a pledge of Government and regulatory support for the fast-growing sector.

Glen, speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit Monday, suggested fintech firms would have huge impact on the future economy.

“One thing feels certain: you will all play a role in shaping…[the] future because fintech will continue to transform the way we live our lives,” he said.

Glenn, the MP for Salisbury, was named the new City minister in Theresa May's reshuffle at the start of 2018. He took over from Steve Barclay.

In what was his first specific speech to the UK’s fintech industry, Glen offered an very optimistic viewpoint but hinted at greater scrutiny for some areas of the market.

“It is only right that the sector is brimming with confidence – the UK is the best place in the world for fintech and as economic secretary my mandate is to ensure it remains as such,” he said.

“We don’t want to shift gears, or resort to complacency – but keep up the momentum, and remain the global leader”.

With Brexit moving into an ever-quicker reality Glen is not only charged with encouraging the nascent UK start-ups in fintech into becoming international scale-ups but also with trying to mitigate the uncertainty created by the UK leaving the European Union. Firms, especially those in fintech and finance more broadly, have outlined several concerns often topped by the need to attract international talent and capital.

Glen emphasised the pressing need to keep London as the leading global fintech hub.

“I hear rumblings from across the Channel that President Macron is looking to drag you all over to Paris,” he said.

“[But] President Macron can’t argue against hard truths: that the fintech sector is estimated to be worth over £6bn to the UK economy, generating a staggering 60,000 jobs across 1,600 firms; A greater number than work in New York’s fintech sector, or in the combined fintech workforce of Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.”

“The ingredients for the UK to retain a strong fintech industry were, he said, three in number: “competition, capital, and connectivity”.

He said to encourage competition the Government would ensure that firms have both “the right incentives, and the right environment to deliver cheaper, better products to consumers.”

But, he added, they would also encourage greater regulatory oversight for, as an example, with “crypto-assets”.

To encourage capital and investment, Glen said the Government would also back fintechs in the UK “to the hilt”.

On ‘connectivity’ Glen emphasised fintech’s more utopian role in bringing about better financial outcomes for those in lower incomes and with less access to financial services in general.

“Fintech has enormous potential to transform financial inclusion through the democratic power of information and universal connectivity.”

“This connectivity is the natural by-product of such a dynamic ecosystem by expanding access to the unbanked and the underserved and unlocking invaluable support to people up, down, and across this country.”

“Fintech is a route to ensure that this happens – by helping people make the most out of their money. Open Banking is a clear next step in this endeavour.”

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