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Beyond London: Fintech in Manchester

Realising the potential of the growing Manchester fintech sector

The growing Manchester fintech sector was the focus at an event earlier this week. Organized by Innovate Finance, supported by techUK and hosted by the Barclays Rise Accelerator, local representatives and fintech champions explored the City's potential and had some interesting conversations about how to maximize and build on local expertise and strengths.

Keynote speakers and panels described the broader landscape of fintech across the UK and where the development of fintech stands in Manchester. As noted by Eileen Burbidge, Special Envoy for FinTech, Partner, Passion Capital and recently appointed Chair of Tech City UK, the UK wouldn't be able to keep the same pace of growth in fintech without looking beyond London and capitalising on the strength of other UK cities and regions. Claire Braithewaite, Head of Tech North, chaired a number of panel discussions across the day and noted the key role for Manchester in realising the Chancellor's vision for a Northern Powerhouse.

Although a number of participants pointed to the many characteristics that Manchester shared with London; a strong financial services sector, a skilled workforce and a good pipeline of talent from a leading academic institutions, a digitally engaged population and a broad range of creative industries, important differences were also noted. Manchester clearly offer benefits in terms of lower operating costs but some participants felt strongly that the City's strategy should not be to try and replicate the London fintech scene but rather to develop and nurture its own market niche and expertise. Cyber Security, for example, was an area where it was felt that Manchester had some real expertise on which to build.

Innovation, collaboration and the need for supportive infrastructure were also key themes across all the panel discussions. techUK's Lisa Moyle chaired a discussion on the role of contactless payment in generating positive consumer outcomes whilst creating the potential for future benefits and innovation through the data that was generated. Data, as was pointed out by one attendee, which should be shared so as to catalyse and supply future innovators. Whilst the operating environment in Manchester has its own challenges, not just in terms of implementing contactless payments but also for developing a joined up transport infrastructure, the role of 'smart' payment options has a crucial role to play in providing a better and more efficient customer experience and supporting the digital economy.

Lisa Moyle, Head of Financial Services & Payments at techUK said, 'The future of UK fintech will not just be about London but will rely on linking up hubs and expertise all across the UK. The event was a great opportunity to learn more about the dynamic fintech sector in Manchester'

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