Anybody who doesn’t know that the UK and London in particular are the world’s number 1 destination for finTech start-ups and investment into fintech must have had their heads in the sand for the past 18 months.
Today the UKTI and several of the capital’s most promising finTech start-ups, including City Falcon, Money Mover, Prophis and World Remit will wrap up a 3 day trade delegation in Japan, a country that is beginning to see serious disruption of its own in its Financial Services sector.
Japan has the world’s second largest financial market, an ecommerce market worth $90 billion and a vast financial services and IT sector, but has yet to see large scale adoption of finTech practices and techniques or the emergence of start-ups capable of challenging its major financial players.
That all may be about to change however, says the UKTI; Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics and tourists will expect to be able to make cashless payments and feel safe from cyberfraud which is on the rise in Japan; international compliance and transparency requirements are changing too and by following London’s lead Japan can develop companies who can provide a nimble and agile response to change.
Over the past 3 days The UKTI has been connecting UK companies with their Japanese counterparts in Tokyo in the interest of furthering relationships and developing business partnerships and alliances. There have been mentoring sessions, symposiums and plenty of networking and one-to-one sessions with Japanese start-ups and members of Tokyo’s investment community, culminating in a half day seminar ran by UKTI at the Ambassador’s residence.
The Fintech industry was worth £20 billion to the British economy and is seen as one of the cornerstones of the push to “scale-up” start-up companies which could add £38 billion to the UK economy over the next 3 years, creating nearly 250,000 new jobs.
According to the Office for National Statistics the UK exported more than £97 billion worth of goods and services in 2011 with 19% of that figure going to Asia; there’s little doubt the government are willing that figure ever higher (September 2015 alone was equal to £25.9bn) and showcasing the best that London has to offer in a city as vibrant and influential as Japan will no doubt feel like a step in the right direction.
In Japan there are few if any fintech organisations working alongside the government on projects and the business culture there tends to be risk averse. Over the last 3 days the UKTI and Innovate Finance, the not for profit organisation designed to assist the fintech industry in the UK which counted all of the trade delegates as members, have made it their mission to help Japanese financial institutions, large or small, get to grips with the positive connotations of a “disruptive” business environment, as well as gaining valuable insight by knowledge sharing with institutions like Mitsubishi Estate, The bank of Tokyo and NTT.