FinTech North News and Regional FinTech Developments

Liverpool Conference 2024 Write-up

FinTech North took to the Liverpool City Region for their first flagship conference since 2019 for an exciting day of industry and sector updates, recent innovations, key insights and valuable discussions. The conference, hosted in partnership with headline sponsors, Lenvi, brand sponsors, The University of Liverpool, Mastercard, Growth Platform, and Vilja, as well as namebadge sponsors, DTM Legal, and pre-conference get-together sponsors, Intercash, marked a truly momentous occasion for FinTech in the Liverpool City Region.

We’ve also provided video recordings of the day, scroll down below to view them.

A Welcome from FinTech North

Following a vibrant breakfast networking session, Joe Roche, General Manager at FinTech North commenced the conference by welcoming the delegates, and providing an update on the teams ongoing goals, activity and plans for the year. He referenced FinTech North’s prior activity in Liverpool, highlighting the development the sector had undergone in the region. Julian Wells, Director at Whitecap Consulting and Director of FinTech North joined Joe onstage, further referencing the activity and growth seen in the region.

A Welcome from the University of Liverpool

Next, a pre-recorded welcome message from Tim Jones, Vice Chancellor at the University of Liverpool was played. He shared the University’s current aims, strategy and thinking for the year, highlighting their commitment to research and focus on innovation, through initiatives including their new ‘Digital Innovation Facility’ (DIF), stressing the transformative power of data and digital technologies to make a profound impact on people’s lives.’ He proudly shared the University’s success in various global rankings, noting that 97 per cent of their computer science courses are recognised as world leading.

A Welcome from Liverpool City Council

Next to the stage was Councillor Liam Robinson, who welcomed attendees to the region, shared some figures relating to the global prominence of the city, and expressed his personal belief in celebrating FinTech on a pan-Northern basis. He made reference to the Knowledge Quarter, the University, and local FinTech business, Cashplus Bank as a testament to the great strengths within the region.

Increasing Accessibility and Equality in FinTech

After this, Joanne Dewar, Non-Executive Director, Kris Foster, Co-founder of Open Book and Derren Powell, Vice President Business Development – FinTech UK&I  at Mastercard took to the stage for an enlightening discussion highlighting the importance of increasing accessibility and equality in FinTech. After introducing themselves using audio descriptions, they delved into a fascinating conversation which highlighted the significance of designing inclusively from the start and the role of allies in promoting access and inclusion.

Kris shared personal experiences as someone with Down Syndrome and autism, highlighting the challenges faced by the disabled community and the importance providing a platform for minorities to have a voice and to be represented and empowered. The discussion emphasised the capabilities of individuals with disabilities and the need to focus on their abilities rather than the ‘dis’ aspect.

Derren emphasised his commitment as an ally and the importance of leveraging networks and platforms like LinkedIn to drive action and educate others.

‘I am absolutely committed to being a part of change.’

The conversation introduced a new program called Project Nemo, aimed at raising awareness and educating the FinTech community to make products and services more accessible. Overall, the discussion underscored the importance of inclusion, allyship, and taking action to improve accessibility for all. Kris left a lasting message in his statement ‘disability doesn’t discriminate,’ urging the audience to continue the conversation in order to create positive change.

UK FinTech Sector Update

Peter Cunnane, Director of National and International Initiatives at Innovate Finance provided an update on the UK FinTech sector. He referenced his attendance at the last FinTech North Conference in Liverpool in 2019 and introduced Innovate Finance, discussing their upcoming Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) event, set to take place in UK FinTech Week in April.

He highlighted Innovate Finance’s role in the UK and global fintech ecosystem and its collaboration with the FinTech National Network.

Peter outlined Innovate Finance’s five aims within FinTech, including policy and regulatory work, promoting FinTech as a force for good, skills and talent development, international connectivity and scaling, and investment growth and partnerships. He mentioned a range of activities related to policy this year and noted that global FinTech investment ranks second only to the United States, with renewed interest in investing in WealthTech and InsureTech, which is positive for the Liverpool FinTech ecosystem.

Leveraging coalitions & regional ecosystems

Ksenia Grant, Director for Ecosystems and Partnerships at CFIT, discussed the organisation’s origins stemming from the Kalifa review and its establishment to drive innovation in the FinTech sector nationally and internationally. She noted that the mission of CFIT is to accelerate financial innovation in the UK, particularly focusing on overcoming obstacles in the FinTech sector.

Ksenia highlighted CFIT’s approach of working on coalitions, acting as a bridge between industry, academia, regulators, and policymakers. The first coalition focused on open finance, its possibilities, and produced some valuable use cases. She exemplified CFIT’s work with Citizens advise to illustrate the positive social outcomes of using open finance.

The Future of Fintech isn’t Finance 

Next to the stage was Ghela Boskovich, Regional Director, Europe, of FDATA Global. She enthusiastically expressed her keen interest in data sharing, highlighting its importance in driving innovation in FinTech –

‘The future of FinTech is absolutely not finance.’

She emphasised the focus on policy and advocacy regarding open data sharing and the significance of doing it properly and securely.

Ghela highlighted her conviction that the future of FinTech lies not in finance alone but in the data accessible to innovators. She stressed the value of having a comprehensive view of how customer choices impact various aspects of their lives, emphasising the interconnected nature of data and its importance in understanding correlations, causality, and outcomes. She discussed the evolution of data sharing, including the history of open banking and the upcoming UK Smart Data Scheme, as frameworks for regulated data sharing with standardised technical requirements.

Innovate to Elevate: Empowering FinTech Evolution

Steven Mayren, Head of Engineering (Credit Platforms) at Lenvi was next to speak. He discussed the origin of Lenvi and their focus on loan management software, loan servicing, and standby servicing within the business. He emphasised the importance of understanding risk factors and implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) practices.

Steven highlighted his role as the head of engineering for the credit services side of the business, with the aim to help customers revolutionise lending. He stressed the centrality of innovation to Lenvi’s business and strategy, citing various reasons such as gaining competitive advantage, improving efficiencies and understanding possibilities.

He outlined how innovation at Lenvi addresses barriers to innovation through fostering a growth culture, adopting an infinite mindset, investing in tools and resources, and prioritising communication. Steven emphasised the active encouragement of learning and innovation, as well as the importance of failing and iterating as part of the innovation process. Overall, he underscored the holistic approach taken by Lenvi to drive innovation and provide better value to clients while improving internal processes and colleague engagement.

Harnessing the Power of Data as a Force for Good

Following this, Nabeel Irshad, Vice President – Business Development at Mastercard discussed the possibilities of ‘Harnessing the power of data as a force for good.’

He highlighted the massive volume of data processed on Mastercard’s payments network, with over 100 billion transactions annually, which provide rich insights into customer spending behaviour.

Nabeel discussed the various types of data generated during a card payment and how this can reveal information including the amount spent, the location of the retailer and where the cardholder has come from. He outlined the potential applications of this data, including baselining, strategy development, implementation, and evaluation.

He provided an example of Mastercard’s collaboration with the Greater London Authority and the High Street Data Service. This hub centralises data from various sources to provide rich insights on high street activity across London. One specific example cited was understanding the effects of fuel poverty on high street activity in Tooting, South London. Overall, Nabeel highlighted the importance of harnessing data to drive positive social change and improve communities.

Nordic FinTech Innovation & Deposit Trends: Driving Digitalisation

Next, Peter Bäck, Regional Director UK& I at Vilja Solutions, and Ian Cornelius, Advisor, Former Interim CEO and Commercial Director from Skipton Building Society took to the stage for a fireside chat on ‘Nordic FinTech Innovation & Deposit Trends: Driving Digitalisation.’

Peter provided insights into Vilja’s operations, serving financial institutions and banks in the Nordics with cloud-native core banking solutions. He highlighted their diverse customer base, which includes large banks and small niche tech banks, offering services such as buy now pay later, loans, mortgages, leasing, and deposits. Peter emphasised Vilja’s prominence in the Nordic market and explained the rationale behind their entry into the UK market, citing existing international customers and the vibrant nature of the UK market. Peter and Ian noted Vilja’s recent expansion into the UK, now based in Bruntwood SciTech’s Leeds location, Platform.

The discussion delved into Vilja’s achievements, recent growth, and partnerships, with Peter and Ian reflecting on the advanced tech landscape in the Nordic region. He credited government investments in digital infrastructure and initiatives like digital identities for facilitating secure data sharing and enhancing customer experiences.

Peter outlined Vilja’s origins as a response to evolving customer experience trends, originating from a bank to provide solutions for banks. He emphasised their focus on delivering digital experiences, optimising internal efficiencies, and adapting to market changes and regulations. Automation and logic building within their systems were highlighted as key focuses for Vilja’s approach to innovation.

Overall, the fireside chat provided insights into Vilja’s journey, its expansion into new markets, and its commitment to leveraging technology to enhance customer experiences and drive efficiency in banking operations.

Developing FinTech in the Liverpool City Region

Julian Wells, Director at Whitecap Consulting recapped and summarised the findings of Whitecap’s Liverpool City Region FinTech Report, which found over 40 in the region, and called for various initiatives to support it’s growth.

FinTech in Liverpool Panel Discussion

Julian then introduced the panel, which included key figures in the local FinTech scene, all contributing uniquely to the development of the sector in the region. His segment on ‘Developing FinTech in the Liverpool City Region’, provided an overview of support, processes, findings, and actions, setting the stage for the ensuing discussion.

Kate Roberts , Partner, and Head of Liverpool at DTM Legal and Julian discussed DTM Legal’s crucial role, being at the heart of Liverpool City Region Fintech activity. DTM Legal has been acting for FinTechs for over 10 years working with start-ups to PLCs and played a key part in the production of the LCR Whitecap report. Following the report, DTM Legal has been instrumental in establishing the Liverpool Fintech Growth Group with the aim of implementing the recommendations of the report which has included setting up the hugely successful quarterly Fintech Social.

Kate emphasised the importance the professional services sector in Liverpool can play in supporting entrepreneurs, noting the need for improved signposting and awareness of funding opportunities in particular. This forms part of the work DTM Legal will be leading with the FinTech Growth Group going forward.

Gavin Brown, Associate Professor of FinTech at the University of Liverpool, discussed the University’s engagement in FinTech at national and international levels, focusing on skills development and talent acquisition. He highlighted Liverpool’s pioneering role in offering FinTech courses and stressed the importance of collaboration between students and local stakeholders.

Andy Porter , co-founder of Liverpool InsureTech,  iCede, shared insights into funding challenges in the FinTech sector and emphasised the significance of focusing on ideas rather than solely on financial aspects when developing a business.

Danielle Carrington, Internationalisation Manager at Growth Platform described her involvement in inward investment and trade, and reflected on the progress made since the FinTech report and discussed the momentum built in the region. She also highlighted Liverpool’s established niche within the FinTech landscape.

Overall, the panel provided valuable insights into the state of FinTech in Liverpool, showcasing the collaborative efforts underway to drive its growth and development.

The triple glass ceiling: fintech gender inequalities

After a lively lunch and networking session, Joanne Dewar returned to the stage for an evocative fireside chat with Chloe Fox-Robertson, PhD Researcher at the University of Manchester, and Jordan Dargue, Co-Founder at Lifted Ventures. The discussion focussed on Chloe’s research paper, titled The Triple Glass Ceiling: FinTech Gender Inequalities’, which focussed on the complex, multi-faceted nature of barriers to achievement for women in FinTech.

Following this, Jordan reflected on the work Lifted Ventures to address these issues within the sector. Overall, the discussion shone a much-needed light on equality of opportunity in FinTech, including the gendered funding gap, what needs to be done to address these issues.

What the banks and FinTech’s are getting wrong with personal finance?

Next to the stage were Co-Founders of female-focussed finance app, Financielle, Laura Pomfret and Holly Holland, alongside  Claire Lewis, CEO of Baltic Ventures. They discussed ‘What the banks and FinTech’s are getting wrong with personal finance’, and the importance of putting customer needs and well-being at the heart of personal finance.

Can FinTech Impact Societal Change?

Next, a panel discussed the idea and implications around FinTech as a force for good, aiming to answer the question ‘Can FinTech Impact Societal Change?’ The panel comprised of industry experts, Dr Swati Sachan, Lecturer in AI in FinTech at The University of Liverpool, Gary Adlen, CEO at Carbon Happy World and Matt Latham, Co-Founder at Circa5000, and was superbly chaired by Ghela Boskovich, Regional Director, Europe at F Data Global.

The discussion encompassed themes such as AI ethics, climate action, asset management, and the intersection of financial technology with changing social values.

Matt highlighted the importance of democratising access to wealth management services, particularly in addressing the challenges of financial education, engagement with investing, and lack of trust in finance. His focus on thematic global exposure, particularly in health and well-being sectors, emphasised the role of FinTech in bridging climate, social, and economic empowerment.

Gary underscored the significance of using technology and AI to measure carbon footprints and align with evolving regulations, especially in addressing climate issues. He emphasised the need for organisations to adapt and implement efficient solutions to tackle climate challenges.

Ghela spoke on the ethical implications of open banking and data usage in FinTech, highlighting the importance of positive consumer outcomes and the limitations faced by underserved populations due to data gaps. She stressed the need for responsible data practices and the incorporation of human intervention to ensure ethical decision-making.

Swati delved into the ethical considerations of AI deployment in finance, particularly in addressing biases and data gaps. She emphasised the importance of transparency, accountability, and ethical use of AI in financial applications, particularly in areas such as ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing.

The panel explored questions around how FinTech can positively impact societal change while navigating ethical dilemmas, regulatory frameworks, and data challenges. Discussions revolved around bridging the wealth gap, addressing climate issues, and ensuring responsible use of AI to achieve positive outcomes for consumers, communities, and society as a whole. Topics such as double materiality, regulatory alignment, and ethical AI deployment were also discussed to shed light on the complexities of leveraging fintech for societal good.

Each panellist spoke from unique and fascinating viewpoints on the topic, and the intersectional and broad-spanning nature of FinTech was truly brought to life in the discussion.

FinTech Showcase

The concluding afternoon session was the popular FinTech showcase, a ‘Dragons Den’ style lightning pitch segment. The showcase was energetically facilitated by Oliver Chesher, Managing Director at Gabilier and Julian Wells. FinTech North were delighted to be joined by:

Tom Woodroof – Director at Mutual Credit Services

Gavin Sherratt – Co-Founder at Tenat

Shazma Astle – Strategic Partnerships Consultant at Corecom Consulting

Becky Baker -CEO and Founder at the Receipt Safe
Phil Benson – Founder at Locio and Matt Houldsworth – Founder and CEO at Veribli
Nicola Gleave – Founder of  Worn by Us ,who work with retailers, brands and consumers to deliver a circular fashion resale model.

Nick Ashton – Co-founder, Sales and Marketing Director Amicis Group
Leon Wilson – CEO at PollenPay
Lucy Mounter – Director of Business Development Strategy, UK at Intercash
Samuel Thomas – Director at Which Menu
Moses Peter – Co- Founder at Monirates
Georgi Tonchev – Chief Business Development Officer at Elando
James Garner – CEO at Sticky

As the afternoon drew to a close, the conference undeniably left the audience with much food for thought, leaving no doubt about the vibrancy and dynamism of Liverpool City Region’s FinTech scene. Throughout the day, the diverse range of innovations and businesses showcased exemplified a genuine commitment to growth in a region that is unmistakably flourishing.

As we reflect on what has been achieved, it’s exciting to anticipate the possibilities for next year’s conference. With this conference marking the largest FinTech event in the region to date, it’s evident that Liverpool is poised to become a significant player in the national FinTech landscape, further cementing the North of England as an established global presence in the sector.

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