FinTech North News and Regional FinTech Developments

FinTech North pledges to help support Financial Inclusion focused entrepreneurs

This week’s budget has made many headlines, but a new Financial Inclusion initiative slipped under the radar somewhat. This is a topic close to our hearts at FinTech North and an area where we are keen to pledge our support to FinTech entrepreneurs and initiatives.

There was much for the FinTech sector to cheer in the budget, not least the fact that £1.6 billion was committed to strengthen the UK’s global leadership in science and innovation. Since 2016 the government has invested an additional £7 billion in research and development – the largest increase to R&D in 40 years.

One area that was not widely reported was the pledge by HM Treasury to help provide support for affordable credit, particularly in the context of Financial Inclusion..

In the budget, the Treasury stated:

“A strong and vibrant social lending sector is crucial so that everyone has access to valuable financial services, regardless of their circumstances. Following the work of the Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, the Budget announces new policies to help households manage unexpected costs by increasing access to fair and affordable credit, as well as a consultation on a breathing space scheme for people who fall into problem debt.”

To help address this, a new Affordable Credit Challenge Fund was confirmed, whereby the government will provide £2 million to launch a challenge fund to promote innovative technological solutions that will harness the power of the UK’s world-leading Fintech industry to support social and community lenders.

Chris Sier, Chairman of FinTech North, says:

“I would encourage companies to apply, and to be creative and collaborative when doing so. The process will be similar to the highly successful Rent Recognition Challenge, which means that there are real opportunities for early-stage start ups as well as incumbents to get involved.”

The Challenge is expected to be launched in early 2019. Firms will submit proposals which will then be assessed by a judging panel. A small number of firms will be selected to receive a slice of the £2m to build prototype products, then take them to market.

In the overall scheme of things, it is easy to see why this £2m fund did not make the headlines, but Financial Inclusion is an important topic and one that is regularly subject to discussion and debate at FinTech North events. We intend to place increased focus on this important area in 2019, and would be delighted to hear from organisations and individuals with an interest in this field.

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