Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a number of new initiatives to support the fintech sector, including a new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ‘scale box’, a Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology and a taskforce into digital centralised currency.
Speaking at Fintech Week, Sunak (pictured) welcomed Lord Hill’s Listing Review and Ron Kalifa’s review into fintech, and confirmed that the UK will be taking forward many of the recommendations.
The City watchdog will introduce a ‘scale box’ – a package of measures to enhance its regulatory sandbox, which allows start-ups to test new propositions, and to provide a “one-stop shop for growth stage firms”. It will also launch the second phase of its digital sandbox to enable firms to test concepts that tackle sustainability and climate change-related challenges.
The Treasury will work with the Bank of England and the FCA to deliver a new financial services infrastructure sandbox for firms innovating with new technologies like distributed ledger tech.
The chancellor also backed the creation of an industry-led Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology to work with regional hubs to identify and address sector challenges in support of fintech growth across the UK.
Furthermore, a new taskforce, bringing together Treasury and the Bank of England, will be established to explore a possible UK central bank digital currency.
Two new forums will also be established to engage technical experts, and key stakeholders including financial institutions, merchants, business users, civil society groups, and consumers through the process.
The Bank of England has launched a new ‘omnibus’ account to allow access to innovative financial market infrastructure providers that can support delivery of faster, cheaper, 24-hour wholesale payment and settlement using central bank money.
In addition, the government will take forward all the recommendations made by the Listing Review and will consult this summer on reforms to capital markets, such as removing the double volume cap and share trading obligations.
Sunak said the government is already reforming the visa system to help firms access the talent they need, including a new ‘scale up’ visa stream allowing skilled people with a job offer at a recognised UK ‘scale up’ to qualify for a fast-track visa without sponsorship or third-party endorsement.
“Our vision is for a more open, greener, and more technologically advanced financial services sector,” said Sunak.
“The UK is already known for being at the forefront of innovation, but we need to go further.
“The steps I’ve outlined today, to boost growing fintechs, push the boundaries of digital finance and make our financial markets more efficient, will propel us forward.
“And if we can capture the extraordinary potential of technology, we’ll cement the UK’s position as the world’s pre-eminent financial centre.”
The announcement follows signatories, including Funding Circle and Zopa, writing to the chancellor asking to ensure the UK doesn’t “rest on its laurels” when it comes to how the fintech sector can support the economy.