Event Round-up: Yorkshire & North East International FinTech Showcase 27/11
Joe Roche / 29th November 2019
On 27th November 2019, FinTech North hosted an International Delegation of visiting FinTechs as part of a European trade mission to the North of the UK.
Julian Wells, Director of Whitecap Consulting, opened the event with some words of welcome. Chairman of FinTech North, Chris Sier, welcomed everyone to FinTech North’s 50th event as chair, which fittingly took place in Leeds at aql, the same venue as the inaugural event.
Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer Economic Development welcomed everyone to Leeds on behalf of Leeds City Council, explaining that Leeds is the largest city region economy outside of London. Eve explained more about the geographical connectivity of Leeds, and also the vibrant tech sector including recent opening of co-working spaces and Leeds digital festival going from strength to strength.
Prof. Adam Beaumont was next up, Adam welcomed the visiting FinTechs to the UK and explained the history and significance of aql and the Salem Chapel, including its critical role as a data centre.
The audience then heard about some of the support available via Leeds Enterprise Partnership, outlining the Digital Inward Investment Fund which is a grant of up to £50,000 if a firm creates at least 5 jobs in the region.
James Roberts and Mo Masood, who work in the conversational banking team at HSBC, then gave an overview of HSBC’s Conversational Banking. Conversational banking hinges upon the fact that customers don’t think of channels, they are channel-less and focus on outcomes not processes. Conversational banking means that customers can access all their banking services however they want, be that via phone conversation or online via an app, without a drop in service depending on which channel is used.
Dawn Dunn, Cluster Manager at Dynamo North East provided an overview of the North East, highlighting it’s position as a ‘tech corridor’ between Leeds/Manchester and Edinburgh. The North East is proving to be a second home for startups outside of London due to low costs and high standards of living, as well as a student population of just under 100k and a skilled workforce of 1.2million.
Chelsea Boothroyd, Engagement Manager for Nexus, explained more about Nexus; a Leeds University collaborative hub and co-working space which aims to bring academia, business and innovation together.
“It’s less a case of the big eating the small, more the fast eating the slow” – Chelsea Boothroyd, Engagement Manager, Nexus
John Wilson, COO of Stellium Data Centres spoke about the 250 acre centre, the largest of it’s kind in the UK which was built right at the beginning of the transition to cloud computing. Due to transatlantic fibres being laid down, the North East is positioned well to service the connectivity and economy of the future.
“Financial is a vertical whilst tech is a horizontal” – John Wilson, COO, Stellium Data Centres
International FinTech Showcase:
First up was Liam Cronin, CEO of RDI Hub, then explained the concept of RDI Hub. The RDI hub is a research and development hub in the south west of Ireland. The focus of the RDI hub is to get more investment into the regions outside of Dublin, the hub itself is an research and innovation hub, providing training, education, space, mentoring and incubation.
Patrick Ollson, Head of Partnership Growth at Findity explained how Findity provide technology to digitise receipts and automate expense management. Findity differentiate themselves by factoring in mileage and allowances and can cover the tax regimes of different countries.
We heard from Adam Kogan, co-founder of PayMe. PayMe are based in Tel Aviv and have developed a white-label payments and services platform. PayMe services over 250 partners and 40,000 merchants, working with SME’s and POS providers.
Fabian Grapengiesser, CEO of StockRepublic was up next. StockRepublic are a Swedish-based open investing platform who rank and rate investors to build a model allowing customers to take guidance from other investors and track investment trends.
Petrina Amacker, Head of UK Partnerships at Minna Technologies, explained how Minna Technologies is a platform for customers to manage their paid subscriptions. Minna Technologies are bringing power to the modern consumer and are also working with banks to help them retain customers from leaving their digital channels.
We also heard from Kristo Koppel, Sales Associate at Veriff. Veriff is an online identity verification company that protects businesses and their customers from online identity fraud. Veriff uses AI to analyse behaviorial and technological variables. Launched in 2015, Veriff services a global portfolio of internet businesses including FinTechs.
Northern FS & FinTech Showcase
Computershare Loan Services is a leading international third-party mortgage service provider, administering over $100 billion of assets globally and supporting hundreds of thousands of customers throughout the lifecycle of their loans. Richard explained how Computershare have evolved digitally to enable growth.
First Direct were up next. John James, Head of Digital Product at First Direct spoke about how First Direct pioneered amazing service. First Direct are a retail only bank using data to personalise and create a great customer experience.
Paul Braithwaite, Commercial Development Lead at Leeds Building Society, then explained how Leeds Building Society identify opportunities in the market and new technology allowing them to help customers. Founded in 1875, Leeds Building Society’s core goals have not changed; they aim to help people save money and buy houses.
Panintelligence – Zandra Moore, CEO of Panintelligence, explored the power and growth of data. Panintelligence are using data to drive real outcomes, improving the customer experience.
“Data is data, what’s important to us is how people interact with it.” – Zandra Moore, CEO, Panintelligence
BJSS – Richard Meirion-Williams, Head of Sales at BJSS, was next to speak on the stage. Richard explained the depth of BJSS’s services; a key supporter of FinTech North, BJSS are a tech and fintech minded consultancy, systems integrator and services provider. “Talent retention and the employee experience are key to BJSS and will remain so”
Barry Singleton, Chief Relationship Officer at Scaled Insights told the story of Scaled Insights, an AI tech firm based in Leeds, with a nod to their appearance the second ever FinTech North conference. Scaled Insights go beyond demographics with AI & natural language processing, and are applying their technology to solve prediction, prevention and personalisation challenges in Fintech, Education and Health Care. Scaled Insights main challenges are; Ethics, navigating Corporate Culture and working with partners to identify and support vulnerable people.
Alison Davies, Head of Digital at Skipton Building Society was our final speaker in the showcase. Skipton Building Society offer mortgages, savings and financial advice. Skipton are working with FinTechs to help deliver their channels; online app branch video phone. Giving sufficient bandwidth to IT colleagues was integral to making the customer experience as solid as can be.
“Our branches are mission critical for us – Our challenge is connecting our online and offline worlds” – Alison Davies, Head of Digital, Skipton Building Society
We then got together for a group discussion with the visiting FinTechs:
“What were you looking for when you came to the North?” asked Chris Sier:
“For want of a better word, we wanted to understand more about the ecosystem” – Petrina Amacker, Head of UK Partnerships, Minna Technologies
“There is actually life up in the North – quite a lot has changed since we were last looking at the UK market” – Kristo Koppel, Sales Associate, Veriff
“Globally, there a lot of problems but people haven’t come together yet. This is an opportunity to bridge that gap, there are a lot of potential customers here.” – Adam Kogan, Co Founder, PayMe
“It’s been really interesting seeing how the network has come together, I think it’s key how you’ve brought together the startups and the established FS and FinTech companies.” – Liam Cronin, CEO, RDI Hub