FinTech North News and Regional FinTech Developments

FinTech North Manchester Conference 2022: Re-cap and Re-Watch

On Thursday the 24th of November, over 200 delegates converged on the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Hall for FinTech North’s fifth annual Manchester conference. Hosted in partnership with The University of Manchester, DARE Technology, Mastercard, Weavr, GFT and Amazon Web Services; the event welcomed a raft of big-hitters, newcomers, and everything in between in the UK’s FinTech scene.

We would like to say a huge thank-you to our speakers and all attendees for making the event a successful one!

For those who were unable to join the event live, we have produced a write-up so that you can catch up. We’re also delighted to share a recording of the full event, which can be viewed below:

Joe Roche, Engagement Manager at FinTech North, opened the conference and welcomed attendees on behalf of the team, before passing over to a pre-record from Nancy Rothwell, Vice Chancellor at the University of Manchester.

Chris Sier, Chairman of FinTech North and FinTech Envoy, HM Treasury, was up next, and again, welcomed a busy room to Central Manchester, provided a quick overview of the day and summarised the state of play of national and regional FinTech.

In keeping with a similar theme, Peter Cunnane. Director of International and National Initiatives, Innovate Finance, was up next to deliver our first keynote of the day, providing a sector update from the UK’s FinTech industry body.

Constanza Castro Feijoo, Stakeholder Engagement Specialist at the Open Banking Implementation Entity shortly followed and talked to room about the Open Banking revolution. She shared that the UK has a leading structure for open banking, which is copied by over 80 countries.

Max Lambertson, Economist at Mastercard, shared a macro-economic outlook, shedding light on current spending behaviours and the state of play for UK finance.

“Consumer confidence is lower than in the 2008 Financial crisis, but retail spending has risen throughout the year.”

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, Max reassured delegates that there is a huge amount of resilience in the UK economy. The number of online businesses continues to rise, and the UK is a leader in e-commerce penetration.

Julian Wells, Director of Whitecap Consulting was next on stage, and shared their FinTech report for Greater Manchester, highlighting their ecosystem analysis and its development before teasing some initial findings.

Julian then shared the stage for our first panel discussion, all about regional FinTech ecosystems and FinTech in Manchester, featuring; Hilary Smyth Allen, Executive Lead, Super Tech West Midlands; Stephen Ingledew, Chair, FinTech Scotland; Deborah Walker, Head of Inward Investment, MIDAS; Stephen Hall, Senior Manager, Vialto and Scot Furness, Business Growth Manager, Bruntwood SciTech.

Hilary Smyth Allen, Executive Lead, Super Tech West Midlands

“Prior to SuperTech West Midlands involvement, there was a flourishing FinTech ecosystem in the Midlands, but it wasn’t realising its full potential in the absence of Cluster management network”

Deborah Walker, Head of Inward Investment, MIDAS

“FinTech’s are attracted to Manchester. There’s a rich heritage in e-commerce and innovation, and there’s a real commitment to FinTech investment. In the past 7 months, £7m has been invested into FinTech in Greater Manchester. Not to mention, Manchester has recently been voted the 3rd best city to live in the world, creeping in behind none other than San Francisco and Amsterdam!”

Stephen Hall, Senior Manager, Vialto:

“There is a critical need to factor in VISA compliance for all sizes. Recent surges in need for VISAs will see half of the UK Tech sector need one in the next few years. It’s vital the FinTech sector pays attention to this.”

Scot Furness, Business Growth Manager, Bruntwood SciTech:

Outlining Bruntwood SciTech’s offering and commitment to developing the FinTech sector in Manchester: “Our four dedicated science and tech campuses are in close proximity to the city’s key academic and clinical institutions within the city’s innovation district, the Oxford Road Corridor, enabling us to support the growth of innovative tech companies of all sizes by providing direct connections into them along with access to fundingtalent and new market opportunities across the region.”

Stephen Ingledew, Executive Chair, FinTech Scotland

“What does CFIT mean for regional ecosystems? The idea is to intervene where there are opportunities for national developments to trickle down to smaller businesses in the region.”

After a short coffee break, we welcomed Jamal Issouquaien, Customer Success Engineer from Apple security experts, DARE Technology, to discuss virtual threats in the online world. His keynote, titled “Security for a mobile workforce” provided awesome insight into the state of play for cyber-security and highlighted the importance for companies leading online innovation to have robust securities, not only for their sake, but for the credibility of the industry.

“Remote workers have grown by 3x – so build solutions for this. New devices bring new hazards – so make sure you adapt to them.”

“Apps pose more risk than ever, so restrict their access. 66% of apps on the App Store have access to our photos – is that really needed?”

“Remember – end users are your weakest link!”

DARE Technology were one of our brand sponsors for the event, and hosted an exhibit stand on the day. Thanks to Jamal for what was an awesome talk. DARE Technology are experts in cyber-security and Apple device compliance. Check them out via their website here.

Following DARE, we welcomed Daniel Greiller, Chief Commercial Officer from Weavr, for his keynote titled “Unleashing innovation with financial plug-ins: a radically simpler way to embed finance.” He talked us through the three core benefits of embedded finance:

  1. Fundamentally a better customer experience.
  2. Subsequently, customers will stay with you for longer.
  3. You’ll make more money!

Daniel went on to introduce Weavr, explaining how they use the same embedded finance model many of us are used to (Amazon and Uber), but apply it in a B2B context.

“For businesses, it offers an easier, faster and less capital constraining way to implementation.”

He talked us through some brilliant use cases Weavr has been working on, including employee benefits tool Ben, & expense management software Finway.

“These companies are going to eat the breakfast of their competitors. They’re the Ubers of the B2B space.”

Thanks to Daniel for an awesome talk – embedded finance is well and truly here to stay. Weavr, embedded finance specialists, were one of our brand sponsors for the event, why not check them out here.

Tom Bull, UK Head of FinTech at EY was next to be invited to the stage – discussing the evolution of FinTech. Tom underlined some key issues facing FinTech’s, including managing business complexity and demands of investors. He claims that the “FinTech sector is undoubtedly moving into ‘scale-up’ mode – boding well for its continued development!.

Tom also introduced EY’s FinTech scale=up handbook, which provides an overview of how FinTech’s grow and scale. For example, their risk and regulation chapter draws attention to navigating the growing universe of regulations and greater levels of scrutiny.

The handbook is out now – check out through the link here.

Shortly before lunch, Professor Javier Garcia Oliva, Associate Dean for Business Engagement, Faculty of Humanities at The University of Manchester shared a few words with visiting delegates.

Resuming proceedings after lunch was Professor Markos Zachariadis, Professor and Chair of Financial Technology at The University of Manchester. Markos introduced the launch of the new Centre for Financial Technology Studies and the importance of academia’s role in educating the next generation of FinTech professionals.

Markos’s talk segued perfectly into our next panel discussion, all about Research and innovation in FinTech, chaired by Rachel Kenyon, Business Engagement Manager at The University of Manchester; featuring Nicola Anderson, CEO of FinTech Scotland; Stephen Browning, Challenge Director – Next Generation Services, UKRI and of course, Professor Markos Zachariadis.

Nicola Anderson, CEO of FinTech Scotland, shared FinTech Scotland’s research and innovation roadmap publication – which details what the future of finance should look like.

“We understand aspirations from an industry perspective, and we’re delighted to say we’re able to offer that insight to the academic community.”

Stephen Browning, Challenge Director – Next Generation Services, UKRI:

“There are real barriers to adoption of innovation, due to cultural factors, risk aversion and legacy systems. Our goal at Innovate UK is to bypass these barriers and implement real, tangible change.”

Next up, was a fireside chat with Neil Thompson, AWS Alliance Manager, GFT and Addy Dubhashi, EMEA Partner Lead FS, Amazon Web Services, discussing “building the next generation of digital banking.”

Neil and Addy shared insight into some of their case studies, including working with Mox Bank. “Mox was one of the first digital banks to hit the market in September 2020. They had 35k customers in the first month, 100k in first year and now 400k+. The architecture applied from the outset was designed for that scale..” You can find out more about their case study via the link here.

Furthermore, Neil shared reference to the GFT Distributor index they used to gather findings from their banking customers – you can find the link to this here.

Our final panel of the day was on the topic of Female entrepreneurship and funding, chaired by Jessica Jackson, Investment Manager, Praetura Ventures. Featuring, Nicola Weedall, Co-Founder, Hydr; Heather Waters, Regional eco-system manager, NatWest and Fiona Hatch, Senior Investment Manager, Foresight Group.

Jessica Jackson, Investment Manager of Praetura Ventures, and chair of the panel discussion:

“It was wonderful to host the panel on Investment at the FinTech North event, sharing useful insights from across the ecosystem. Praetura has backed some of the North’s most exciting founders, including Mark Hartley, founder of the Manchester-based fintech BankiFi. Likewise, through Fund Her North, we have supported the raises of some incredible female founded fintechs, such as Hydr, Collctiv and Financielle, and so it was great to share insights with the next generation of fintech founders in the room.”

Heather Waters, Regional eco-system manager, NatWest

“Only 1 in 5 entrepreneurs are female. The single biggest barrier is access to finance. Less than 1% of VC investment goes to all-female teams.”

Nicola Weedall, Co-Founder, Hydr

“Fundraising is hard! Do not discount the value of resilience, the importance of being selective with investors is critical – take your time, pick those with background expertise and make sure they understand your product.”

Fiona Hatch, Senior Investment Manager, Foresight Group

“Over 27% of their investment team is female, and their 17% of their investment portfolio is female led – both stats are significantly higher than national averages, but she acknowledges there’s still some way to go.”

We closed the event with our popular FinTech showcase, which featured 18 companies sharing their proposition. For each company, we have provided a link to their website. We massively encourage you to check them out and see what they’re all about.

Firstly, Justin Barnes, Special Projects Consultant at Bluebird IT Solutions highlighted the work Bluebird and TIS Grupa do, before providing a welcome address for the showcase company speakers.

RD Vault – Shoayb Patel, Founder

AccessPay – Matthew Slater, Sales Executive

Collctiv – Matt Gregson, Data Analyst

Tech Passport – Layla White, CEO and founder

Rupee – Guilherme Barmworcel, CEO and Founder

DirectID (Scotland) – James Syron, Partnerships Manager and Akeen Savage, Business Development Executive

Cloudsoft – Aled Sage, VP Engineering

Aled spoke about the climate impact of tech, and how using the cloud efficiently can significantly reduce tech-emissions (and costs!). Cloudsoft are an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner who work with organisations to migrate to, modernise on and optimise their AWS environments. They combine over a decade’s deep technical expertise in AWS alongside 24/7 support & team up-skilling to ensure your cloud environments are secure, resilient and bring you maximum value.

KindGeek (Lviv, Ukraine) – Iryna Povkh, Business Development Manager

Elando (Bulgaria) – Georgi Tonchev, Chief Business Development Officer

eLando – focused on outlining its proposition to FinTech scale ups – to become their reliable & innovative Technology Partner, helping them grow and develop providing leadership, expertise, talent, and process. All of it using its specific blend of onshore & nearshore model with emphasis on creating an intimate relationship with its FinTech partners.

Fassion – Billy Butt, Founder

Trusic – Bradley Khan, Founder

Locio – Phil Benson, Founder

Amoo – Nzube Efodike

iTechArt – Tom Evison, Engagement Manager & Sarah Cody, Engagement Manager

Amiqus – Chris McGookin, Business Development Manager

Flutterwave – Mobolaji Bammeke, Group Chief Compliance Officer

Krowd Innovation – Carlos Sanchez, CEO and Co-Founder

Credit Canary – Ben Nadel, Co-Founder

Joe Roche, Christopher Sier and Julian Wells brought the event to a close, inviting guests to the drink’s reception for some final networking.

The FinTech North conference was hosted in partnership with The University of Manchester, DARE Technology, Mastercard, Weavr, GFT and Amazon Web Services.

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