FinTech Challenge Leeds Showcase: Re-cap
FinTech North / 24th April 2023
On the 20th of April, FinTech North was delighted to welcome representatives of various FinTechs, established financial services and education institutions and the Northern FinTech community to the University of Leeds’ NEXUS facility for our first workshop, as part of our brand new FinTech Challenge Leeds, sponsored by NEXUS and Lloyds Banking Group.
The event consisted of a series of roundtables, with each centring around a specific challenge area that pertained to a specific business issue faced or certain hot topic in the FinTech and financial services sector. Each challenge area was ‘owned’ by an established financial or educational institution, who took a lead on the discussion on each roundtable. This included: Financial Inclusion (hosted by Transunion), Home Ownership (hosted by Leeds Building Society), Equality, Diversity and Bias (hosted by NEXUS), Green Finance (hosted by NEXUS) and AI, Banking and Payments (hosted by Lloyds Banking Group).
The intention of these sessions was to;
- Build cultural engagement and rapport around ideas.
- Connect our innovators with our institutions.
- Produce and adopt new FinTech solutions.
For those who couldn’t make it on the day, FinTech North is delighted to share a write-up of what was covered at the event, and to highlight what’s next for the FinTech Challenge Leeds!
Financial Inclusion – hosted by Transunion
In this session, we were delighted to have Caroline Fowler, Senior Business Development Manager of Transunion with us to host this session.
We were equally delighted to be joined by; Ismail Bhana, Head of Engineering, Answerpay; Andrew Rabbitt, Co-Founder, incuto; Gary Woodhead, Founder, Curveblock; Giles Harridge; Armani Richards, Investment Manager, FSE Group, Eden Heath, Marketing Lead, WAC and Steve Finch, Principal Product Consultant, AXIOLOGIK.
The participants covered the difficulties of trying to implement financially inclusive offerings and the challenges of measuring impact. A key takeaway was that there are often blurred lines between what is financially inclusive, and what is not. Lives are often complicated, and there could be a lot of different factors that determine exclusion.
The discussion continued, with the importance of financial education coming out as a key theme – where often, students aren’t educated about mortgages, loans or debt at an early age, which can lead to complications later in life.
Other key themes included: FinTech innovation available to break down barriers to inclusion, regulation and data poverty.
Home Ownership – Leeds Building Society
In this session, we were delighted to have Matthew Shelton, Strategy & Partnership of Leeds Building Society and Paul Braithwaite, Commercial Development Lead with us to host this session.
We were equally delighted to be joined by; John Wilkinson, Business Development Director & Consumer Duty Lead, Life Moments & Sam Davies, Head of Product, uOwn.
The participants covered how to change the traditional, and often slow, systems and processes that are currently in place with regards to mortgages and home ownership. This naturally implied the need for FinTech innovation, which flowed into the question of how to get ‘better data’ to ultimately achieve the aim of making home ownership easier for more people.
There was a key emphasis on understanding various demographics to make this a reality – which came full circle to financial education and the regulatory framework allowing FinTech innovation to thrive.
Equality, Diversity and Bias (hosted by NEXUS)
In this session, we were delighted to have Barry Singleton, Business Development Officer of NEXUS with us to host this session.
We were equally delighted to be joined by; Katherine Megson, Innovation Events & Programmes Manager, Bruntwood SciTech; Cole Walton, Partnerships Consultant, Northcoders; Christopher Hulme, Employer Partnerships Manager, Generation UK and Brent Natoli, Executive Headhunter, Red Diamond Executive Headhunters.
The participants covered several themes:
- The need for education – both for young people and in organisations
- The need to provide a safe space for conversations to evolve and for people to fee comfortable having such conversations without fear of judgement.
- Identifying exemplar companies – incumbents / large organisations that are doing ED&I well in FinTech
- Identify the specific barriers to progression/employment in FinTech – socio-economic/race/gender.
- Providing solutions for under-represented groups – including creating an environmet to encourage people from deprived socio-economic backgrounds to form companies and participate in society better.
- Coaching & mentorship
- Identifying exemplar start-ups that have baked ED&I into their strategy from inception
Green Finance (hosted by NEXUS)
We were delighted to hear from; Julian Wells, Director, Whitecap Consulting; Katherine Keddie, Co-founder and Director, Adopter; Nathan Bramham, Client Executive, Partners& and Dan Graf, Founder, earthchain.
“99% of UK businesses are SMEs, and they are responsible for 50% of emissions, but only 3% have set targets?” – How do we change this?
The participants covered how to move beyond greenwashing into meaningful action – outlining ideas such as:
- Offsetting actions
- Offering lower cost to consumers for being more ‘green’
- Loyalty points/rewards
- Offering lower business costs to green providers.
A key pillar of the discussion was how to change consumer behaviour – how do you change the habits of those who cannot afford to pay the ‘green premium’? How do we make payments providers shorter for things like solar panels? What incentives can change behaviours?
Other themes included:
- Influencing the next generation – offer placements for students that are interested in green projects / accreditations.
- Property – How to incentivise retro-fitting.
- Insurance – Link to green credentials/behaviours
- Investments – ESG reporting and financial asset reporting
It was amazing to bring FinTechs, established financial services and education institutions and the Northern FinTech community together for our first workshop as part of the FinTech Challenge Leeds. From here, we will now be working with the challenge groups individually to keep these discussions going.
We would like to thank all of our Challenge Owners for their leadership in these areas and we look forward to delivering the Challenge with their support.
We are still looking for more Challenge Sponsors and FinTech Participants to support the FinTech Challenge Leeds. If you and your organisation would like to get involved or would like to ask any questions, please reach out to FinTech North on firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda, providing £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, people and skills.