By John Reynolds on Wednesday 6 April 2022
One fintech leader said setting up the steering committee was a "step in the right direction" but another called for "more action" from the government.
The government has been called on to speed up setting up a key plank in delivering a national fintech strategy, saying "action" should replace steering committees.
The government this week published details about the role and remit of the £5m Centre for Finance Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
One of the salient recommendations of the Kalifa Review of UK fintech in February last year was setting up the CFIT to “coordinate targeted fintech policies that aim to scale the sector”.
In the autumn budget last year, the chancellor pledged a £5m package for the CFIT.
Ron Kalifa, who was appointed by the government to lead the independent fintech strategic review, called the £5m funding boost the final “piece of the jigsaw” to deliver a strategy for fintech.
The CFIT will work closely with the regional hubs to identify and address sector challenges in support of fintech growth across the UK.
Kalifa said: “That is really the main outstanding piece of the jigsaw that needed to be done as it relates to the strategy.
“Everything else is relatively well established and on its way.
“From a budget point of view, all I wanted was really for that to be endorsed and seed funded. And we’ve got that, so I was delighted with where we’ve landed.”
The government has now announced details of the body’s steering committee, chaired by Kalifa, which is to meet monthly over the spring and summer this year to develop a “comprehensive proposition” for CFIT.
The committee will make recommendations on key strategic points, which will then be considered by the CFIT board and executives, once the unit is set up.
Steering committee members are-
Ron Kalifa OBE-Chair of the Kalifa Review of UK fintech. He previously held the roles of CEO and chairman at Worldpay during 18 years with the firm.
Nicola Anderson-CEO, Fintech Scotland. Anderson previously held senior roles at the FCA during her eight years with the regulator.
Maha El Dimachki-Leading response to Kalifa review at the FCA. El Dimachki has been with the FCA since 2017. She previously spent three years at RBS.
Gerard Grech-CEO of TechNation, the privately and publicly-funded organisation which helps tech firms grow. Grech previously served as the CEO of TechCity, set up by the PM to help scale up startups.
Janine Hirt-CEO, Innovate Finance. Hirt has been with Innovative Finance since 2015 and previously spent two years at Chatham House, the policy institute.
Damian Nussbaum-Director of Innovation & Growth at the City of London. Nussbaum has previously worked at the Department for Innovation, Business and Skills and the Foreign and Commonwealth office.
Sarah Williams-Gardener-CEO, Fintech Wales. Williams-Gardener was previously a founding member and director of public affairs at Starling Bank.
Laura Mountford-Deputy director of payments and fintech at the Treasury. Mountford has been with the Treasury since 2009.
Innovate Finance, which backed the Kalifa review, has previously criticised the government for tardiness in delivering on the Kalifa recommendations.
The CEOs of the UK’s leading fintech firms including the likes of Monzo, Starling and Checkout.com via Innovate Finance called on regulators and the UK government to speed up new reforms aimed at better financial regulation.
The setting up of the steering committee has led to fresh criticism, with one fintech executive saying he would like to see “more action” and less steering committees.
However, another fintech executive said it was a "step in the right direction".
Ralph Rogge, CEO and co-founder of Crezco, the open banking payments startup, said: “I would like to see more action and less steering committees.
“They [steering committees] obviously have a role to play. But they do need to result in real action.
“The world is spinning at ten thousand miles an hour and time isn’t waiting for anybody. They need to act, not just talk and consult.
“You need clear dictatorial direction, it can’t be suggestions. When you are dealing with software, you cannot leave any room for misinterpretation.”
Rogge also said the would like to see a broader set of views on the steering committee.
“None of them are operators. They are all kind of trade bodies. No one knows what it’s like to get your hands dirty every day," he said.
He admitted that operators might have subjective points of view but he said it’s important those on the steering committee hear their views.
Oliver Prill, CEO, Tide, said: "The establishment of a steering committee is a step in the right direction. Being one of the top global fintech hubs, the CFIT will serve to convene and support the growth of fintech clusters in the UK, by working to identify and address barriers and opportunities for the industry.
"As we mentioned in the Open Letter earlier this year, in order to nurture the potential of the top 10 high-growth fintech clusters in the UK, leaders from these clusters will have to be part of the committee.
"However, this is just the beginning and we must not let the momentum wear off, as we must continue to better address the challenges facing the sector like the growth capital gap, and thus work towards shifting the mindset of institutional investors, celebrate UK fintech businesses, and promote the benefits of investment.
"And, we hope this steering committee will drive forward the timely delivery of CFIT."
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