UK launches £1 billion fintech fund to compete with Silicon Valley

by | Aug 16, 2023 | Financial

The U.K. has faced criticisms from some in the industry that it is posing barriers to its fintech entrepreneurs and forcing them to consider listings overseas.Justin Tallis | AFP via Getty ImagesThe U.K. has created an investment vehicle to back growth-stage financial technology companies until they can go public, in a bid to bolster Britain’s global image as a fintech investment hub.Backed by the likes of Mastercard, Barclays and the London Stock Exchange Group, the Fintech Growth Fund aims to invest between £10 million to £100 million into fintech companies, ranging from consumer-focused challenger banks and payments tech groups to financial infrastructure and regulatory technology.The fund, which is being advised by U.K. investment bank Peel Hunt, looks to support companies at the growth stage of their funding cycle, as they seek Series C rounds and above.The venture was created in response to a 2021 government-commissioned review helmed by former Worldpay Vice Chairman Ron Kalifa and examined whether the U.K.’s listings environment is unattractive for tech firms.”It’s definitely a start,” Gautam Pillai, an equity analyst at Peel Hunt covering fintech, told CNBC in an interview Wednesday.It marks a rare commitment to a specialized fund focused on fintech backed by mega-industry players. While fintech-focused funds like Augmentum Fintech and Anthemis Group exist, the U.K. has yet to see a fintech-oriented fund that came about from a government-led strategy.Britain has faced some industry criticisms that it poses barriers to fintech entrepreneurs and forces them to consider listings overseas — particularly after the country’s exit from the European Union, which has cast some shadow over the U.K.’s status as a global financial center.The London Stock Exchange has committed to a number of reforms to encourage fintech firms to float in the U.K. rather than in the U.S. — a particularly pressing step, following British chip design firm Arm’s decision to ditch a London listing for New York.”It’s about finding the next Stripe, the next Worldpay, the next Adyen,” Pillai said.The fund also counts Philip Hammond, the former U.K. finance minister, as an advisor.The move could also be an opportunity for financial heavyweights to access to expertise in the development of new technologies. Big banks and financial institutions are trying to advance their own digital ambitions, as they face competition from younger tech upstarts.The aim is for the Fintech Growth Fund to make its first investment by the end of the year, Pillai said.While £1 billion pales in comparison to some of the huge sums being deployed in fintech and tech more broadly, Pillai said it’s “definitely a start.”The U.K. is a hotbed of fintech innovation, only behind the U.S. when it comes to the scale of its fintech industry, he added. The U.K. is home to 16 of the world’s top 200 fintech companies, according to an analysis from independent research firm Statista conducted for CNBC.The fintech industry is facing a period of turbulence, as rising inflation and macroeconomic weakness soften consumer spending. The valuations of companies …

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