On April 25, Reed Smith hosted a FinTech lunch event at its London offices, led by partners Tamara Box, Nola Beirne, Jacqui Hatfield, Cynthia O'Donoghue, Claude Brown, Simon Grieser, Mike Young and Mark Melodia. Our external guests and Reed Smith lawyers were joined by our guest speaker Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor and Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
Adam Afriyie MP discussed the challenges and opportunities facing FinTech companies, reiterating the importance that the current government places on FinTech policy. Adam strongly believes that business enterprise, and in particular, FinTech, is the way of the future for Britain and that, from a regulatory perspective, Britain is the most enterprise- and business-friendly place on earth. He found it hard to identify problems with the regulatory environment for FinTech and shared his long term hope that, once the deficit is under control, UK corporation tax will be lowered to encourage more companies to invest in Britain. Adam challenged the floor to consider any regulatory challenges facing the FinTech market, urging the audience to think of constructive points to take to Westminster.
From the Reed Smith side, Jacqui Hatfield spoke on FCA regulation and Project Innovate, where new and established businesses (both regulated and non-regulated) are able to introduce innovative financial products and services to the market. The project is part of a regulatory 'sandbox', i.e., a 'safe space,' in which businesses can test innovative products, services, business models and delivery mechanisms without immediately incurring all the normal regulatory consequences of pilot activities.
Reed Smith's Cynthia O'Donoghue then discussed the wider FinTech landscape, calling for a new attitude of embracing technology to take FinTech to the next level, rather than as a 'disruptor'. Cynthia reiterated the importance of financial services companies embracing FinTech and gave the example of insurance black boxes and banking apps on phones as examples of where FinTech is making a real difference to society. She also emphasised that all new FinTech opportunities are dependent on trust from the public. If the public doesn't trust them, the projects won't get off the ground.
Finally, Reed Smith's Mike Young discussed the FinTech environment in the UK from a fundraising and development perspective. He mentioned that £500 million in fundraising was raised by FinTech companies in 2015, and that a quarter of tech mergers globally happened in the UK in 2015. This reiterated Adam's point that the UK is the most business-friendly place in the world for regulation.
For more information on Reed Smith's global FinTech practice, click here.