Innovate Finance, an independent membership-based industry organization that aims to advance Great Britain’s standing as a leader in financial technology (FinTech) innovation both domestically and abroad, has released its new manifesto: Innovate Finance Manifesto: 2020.
“Our vision for 2020 is for the U.K. to be the most investment-friendly environment for FinTech globally, attracting $4 billion of venture investment and $4 billion of institutional investment in corporate venture funds, accelerators and innovation programs,” states the manifesto. “Our vision for 2020 is for the U.K. to be the premier location for at least 25 global FinTech leaders, whether by IPO, global market share or by valuation.”
The manifesto mentions the need for effective regulation, a proactive policy environment and a commitment to greater financial inclusion, and emphasizes that the U.K. must produce more graduates in technical disciplines and create a deep pool of mathematical and scientific expertise. In partnership with Open University, Innovate Finance developed the world’s first introduction course to FinTech.
The coming wave of graduates in technical disciplines related to FinTech won’t be unemployed.
“Increasing investment in U.K. FinTech and developing an increasing number of global leading companies will help create an additional 100,000 jobs in U.K. FinTech,” states the manifesto.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who was on a trade mission to southeast Asia with FinTech specialists from across Great Britain, enthusiastically praised the manifesto.
“This government wants the U.K. to be the leading FinTech center in the world. That’s why, at the Summer Budget, we appointed a special envoy for this fast growing sector,” said Cameron. “I’m pleased that Innovate Finance’s manifesto has set such ambitious goals, including the creation of 100,000 jobs. This will ensure we are a world leader in the development of financial services technologies.”
The FinTech special envoy mentioned by Cameron is Eileen Burbridge, a partner at Passion Capital, a London early-stage technology investment fund, dubbed the “Queen of British VCs” by Fortune.
The manifesto doesn’t mention Bitcoin and blockchain-based digital currencies explicitly. However, Great Britain is on its way to becoming a global hub for bitcoin and other digital currencies, with both the government and Bank of England having made recent moves designed to stimulate the development of digital FinTech.
Cameron’s government has launched a new research initiative that brings together the Research Councils, Alan Turing Institute and Digital Catapult with industry in order to address the research opportunities and challenges for digital currency technology, and will increase research funding in this area by £10 million ($14.6 million USD) to support this.
Cameron expressed very different views on cryptography – the technology that Bitcoin is built upon – and recently said that his government intends to ban strong encryption. Renowned industry expert Bruce Schneier noted that the proposed ban would be a disaster for the U.K. technology leadership and economy.
“When the U.S. tried to ban strong cryptography in the 1990s, hundreds of foreign companies sprang up to fill the gap in what the market demanded,” said Schneier. “Today, security is vitally important in everything we do online, and this law would put U.K. businesses and citizens under an enormous disadvantage.”
It appears that perhaps Cameron’s government hasn’t realized – yet – that technological freedom and technological leadership are two sides of the same coin, and eliminating one would destroy the other.