As the value of fintech to the UK economy continues to rise exponentially, an evolved regulatory framework takes on heightened importance.
On the cusp of the year anniversary of the Kalifa Fintech review, Ralph Rogge, CEO and founder of Crezco, emphasised the importance of its implementation.
Payment Expert: How important is it that the government acts rapidly to ensure the UK remains a leader in fintech?
Ralph Rogge: For those trying to build the next Worldpay (or better, Stripe), it was comforting to read that Whitehall wasn’t solely interested in fisheries and immigration. We should strive for a more diverse economy, both by sector and geography, but we should not underappreciate the value and opportunity FinTech presents to the UK’s future and economy.
This is our comparative advantage, and we’d be ill-advised not to play to our strengths. For decades, arguably centuries, the UK has been a pioneer in financial innovation, looking after the unbanked, increasing access to affordable loans, preventing financial fraud and reducing reliance on high-street incumbents, while creating jobs and skilled labourers.
PE: Firstly are you able to tell us a little more on what steps you are hoping to see implemented off the back of the Kalifa report?
RR: The report isn’t revolutionary. It doesn’t need to be because our track-record in building a strong FinTech ecosystem is positive. But we cannot rest on our laurels or past successes.
We must continue to innovate and evolve with progress, highlighting key areas of focus for the Government, such as policy and regulation, skills, and investment. It is easier to suggest something than it is to implement it. Words are cheap, but actions require focus and determination. To the sceptic this could be merely political rhetoric and meaningless words, and these suggestions were written by a corporate operator but implementation rests with the political establishment.
PE: How does the departure from the EU elevate freedom when it comes to evolving fintech regulations and is the UK’s reduced access to EU markets increasing the need and importance of the implementation of the fintech review?
PE: The reduced access to the EU market (consumers and labourers) has undoubtedly increased short-term friction, costs and uncertainty. A small start-up like ours has seen our headcount unnecessarily increase abroad, costs risen by hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum, and hours spent on administrative tasks have doubled. Opportunistic markets in the EU, such as the Netherlands, Lithuania and Ireland, have sensed an opportunity and are looking to build the next FinTech center of Europe.
Previously they would never have stood a chance, but there is a very real and lucrative opportunity now. If we do not want the next Revolut and Wise to be built abroad, we must ensure that the UK (now unshackled from the bureaucracy of the Continent), continues to lead the way in FinTech. This isn’t about raising awareness or recommendations, but action. The Ron Kalifa report may be a great five-year strategy plan, but who is taking control now?
PE: What role can the Kalifa review have on economic recovery following the pandemic?
RR: The review contains sound strategic policies that require Government implementation. Should the Government act accordingly, even in the smallest manner, it will be a positive signal in an uncertain environment that the UK remains a forward-thinking country and a fertile economy for long-term investments.
PE: Is there a possibility that the implementation of the review will bolster blockchain and digital currency in the UK?
RR: 100%. The review encourages the adoption of innovative and secure technologies for end-users. Both blockchain and digital currencies achieve exactly this. All we need to do is achieve the right mindset and act accordingly.