Industry-led strategy sets out roadmap for Northern Ireland Fintech sector to retain and enhance world leading status

Pictured: Andrew Jenkins, FinTech NI and HMT appointed FinTech Envoy for NI; Karen Bradbury, Sector Lead for Financial and Professional Services at Invest NI and Alex Lee, Chairman of FinTechNI launch the FinTech Strategy for Northern Ireland.

A new report published by FinTechNI, the representative body of the globally renowned Fintech sector here, has stated that Northern Ireland could set to benefit from over £25 million in new Foreign Direct Investment; the setup of over 20 new companies; and the creation of thousands of jobs in just three years.

The ambitious roadmap developed by Fintech experts at leading advisory firm, Deloitte, commissioned by Fintech NI, is the first time such an in-depth report has been created by the industry here.

The Fintech cluster, now estimated to be worth a significant £392million per year to the NI economy, identifies factors in this success to include – geographical advantage; talent, skills and education; a supportive and collaborative community and expertise in cyber security, AI, data analytics and RegTech – positioning Northern Ireland as a leading international hub.

The strategic roadmap states that to supercharge the Fintech sector here, several key areas need to be worked on, such as:

  • Supporting Fintech SMEs in making greater connections with investors, FDI companies and financial services institutions;
  • Addressing barriers to Skills and Talent to encourage younger people to get involved and take up jobs in the sector;
  • Helping to develop the funding networks for successful young Fintech companies to scale up, securing long-term funding options and identifying opportunities to attract international financial investment.

The publication of the roadmap comes soon after the HM Treasury backed Strategic Review of UK FinTech conducted earlier this year by industry expert Ron Kalifa OBE, which named Northern Ireland as one of the leading emerging clusters for Fintech in the UK. FintechNI has said that the outcome of the review presented a major opportunity for Northern Ireland to build on its burgeoning reputation.

Andrew Jenkins, FinTech NI and HMT appointed FinTech Envoy for NI said:

 “The three-year roadmap for the local Fintech sector sends a clear signal of our potential to investors on the local, national and international stage. Knowing the quality of research and innovation that takes place among local fintech companies, it was a privilege to help bring forward this strategy with its clear actions, timelines and measurable achievements to attract more investment into Northern Ireland.”

 “Despite the global pandemic, Northern Ireland’s Fintech sector has enjoyed significant recognition, including as one of the 10 UK clusters producing high growth fintechs in the UK Independent Fintech Strategic Review.  Now is the time to build on this success if we are to keep pace with our peers across the world. This strategy sets the direction of travel for the next three years and will support our local startups while attracting an estimated £25 million in foreign direct investment, allowing us to capitalise on a sector on the cusp of immense advancement.”

Alex Lee, Chair of FinTech NI, the industry association which commissioned the report said:

Northern Ireland is regarded as a world leader in the Fintech sector and often ranks highly in lists of the best places in the world to locate Fintech companies. We have shown time and again that we can attract foreign direct investment, have a strong talent pool and the right attitude towards the nurturing of fintech companies.”

“However, we recognise that we can’t stand still and must challenge the barriers to growth and push our unique selling points to remain globally competitive. This three-year road map being published today outlines the key areas we must focus on to continue to build a collaborative community, leverage the knowledge and the expertise the existing financial and digital sectors and connect that with business support and funding to transform the sector for the benefit of the Northern Irish economy.”

“The potential to create thousands of jobs, attract tens of millions of pounds in foreign direct investment and to assist companies to set up, or scale up, in Northern Ireland is right in front of us and we should not limit our ambition for a sector that has shown such resilience and growth in difficult times.”

Ron Kalifa OBE, Chair of the Strategic Review of UK FinTech said:

“I am thrilled to see a three-year FinTech Strategy launch in Northern Ireland, a region that presents a tremendous opportunity for the sector to create jobs and further international trade by promoting innovation across financial services. This strategy is entirely consistent with the broader review of UK FinTech launched in February and I am delighted that FinTech NI is progressing the regional agenda through this piece of work.”

Kent Mackenzie, FinTech Leader at Deloitte said:

“Northern Ireland already has and is developing a number of the components required to become a credible and truly impactful fintech hub.  This report outlines a roadmap that is ambitious, focused, and draws together all the strengths the region has in order to stand its ground on the global fintech stage.”

 Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive at Belfast City Council said:

“This report comes at the right time. The emergence from the pandemic and the need to reinvigorate and reshape the local economy, coupled with the vision of this dedicated roadmap is fortuitous.”

“In the last 18 months the world became hugely reliant on financial technology and the sector showed that it was resilient and able to meet that challenge. For Northern Ireland to already be ear marked as an outlier in this industry and one of the most advantageous places to set up and develop a Fintech company is a significant accolade.”

 “As region and city deals are developed out, emphasis is placed on innovation hubs and growing business clusters. As the government reshapes its programme for government and consults on strategies on skills and the economy, this pathway developed by the sector itself will over the next three years contribute heavily to further investment and job creation and much needed economic prosperity.”