The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has kicked off a campaign to encourage international financial institutions in ‘priority overseas markets’ to invest in British fintech.
The initiative, which begins in Singapore, Australia and the US, will focus on promoting British solutions in areas including regtech – the application of technology to improve regulatory compliance – as well as robotic process automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Entitled the ‘Leading Edge Global Partnerships Programme’, the campaign aims to ‘create the right conditions’ for new partnerships and trade and investment opportunities, ‘support global financial and professional services relationships’ and promote fintech adoption, according to the DIT announcement.
The department plans to step up its ‘engagement’ with overseas financial institutions to understand their needs and ‘provide access’ to established UK fintech companies. In turn, UK fintechs will receive support and advise on potential export opportunities. The DIT aims to roll out the initiative in further countries during 2021.
Partnerships with three Singaporean banks
The ‘Leading Edge’ initiative was unveiled to coincide with the Singapore FinTech Festival, which ran from 7-11 December. DIT used the festival to announce partnerships with the three Singapore-headquartered banks: DBS (formerly known as the Development Bank of Singapore); OCBC Bank (Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation) and UOB (United Overseas Bank).
Investment minister Gerry Grimstone, a well-known figure in the City of London who is a former chair of the bank Barclays’ investment arm, said the government was keen to “showcase why collaboration and innovation are key pillars of our fintech philosophy and why digitisation is a core part of the future of financial services”.
The programme’s launch comes as the UK steps up its trade promotion activity worldwide after leaving the European Union (EU), the country’s nearest and largest trading partner, after 47 years’ membership of the bloc. The ‘Brexit’ transition period is due to expire on 31 December.
The UK’s international trade secretary, Liz Truss, was in Singapore on 10 December to sign a free trade agreement that largely mirrors an existing deal between Singapore and the EU. Truss and her Singaporean counterpart, Chan Chun Sing, also announced their intention to launch negotiations for a digital economy agreement (DEA).
‘Leading Edge’ complements ‘Fintech Bridges’
The UK is home to about 1,600 fintech companies, a number expected to more than double by 2030, with fintech accounting for about eight per cent of the UK’s total financial services output, according to the DIT.
The department has launched a webpage for British fintechs and overseas financial institutions – which includes asset management, insurance and investment companies, as well as major banks – to register their interest in ‘Leading Edge’ activity.
The initiative complements the UK’s ‘FinTech Bridges’ programme, which is seen as the government’s flagship international fintech policy. Launched in 2016, this scheme promotes the establishment of bilateral agreements between the UK and a priority market with the aim of facilitating trade flows. A UK-Singapore ‘bridge’ launched in May 2016 in London, with similar agreements with countries including Australia having followed. Leading Edge is not exclusive to FinTech Bridge markets.