Government review backs new fintech visas

A government-backed review of the UK's burgeoning fintech industry has proposed a new visa stream to attract overseas talent.

The independent review, led by Ron Kalifa, the former head of the payments firm Worldpay, is proposing the creation of a 'fintech scale-up’ visa route for specialists from around the world.It is one of a number of recommendations in the report, published on Friday, which constitute "a plan for the UK to retain its global leadership in fintech by helping the country’s financial technology firms to scale up, access the talent and finance they need, and deliver better financial services", according to the government.Recommendations from the review cover a wide range of the sector, from fintechs at the earliest stages of seed funding through to more-established businesses. "The sector has been at the forefront of innovation in recent years – UK fintechs made £11 billion in revenue in 2019 and represents 10 per cent of the global market. But the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption across the board and other countries are quickly catching up," commented City AMMr Kalifa said the review's recommendations “must be done now (as) others are waiting for our crown to slip", with the review singling out growing competition from hubs in Singapore, Australia and Canada.Welcoming the report, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: "Fintech is one of the UK’s great success stories and will help us seize new opportunities around the world.
"We must now build on our global reputation for fostering innovative start-ups and ensure firms can access the talent, finance and support they need to scale up here in the UK."This review will make an important contribution to our plan to retain the UK’s fintech crown, create more skilled jobs, and deliver better financial services for people and businesses."Aside from the new tech visa, the review proposes implementing a ‘scale box’ to provide regulatory support for growing firms; improving UK listings rules with free float reduction and dual class shares; creating a £1 billion fintech ‘growth fund’ to help firms grow independently; and establishing a private sector-led Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology to support national coordination and growth in fintech across the UK.Mr Kalifa said: "Fintech has the power to change lives, both in terms of job creation and better wages that are so essential to our recovery; and making financial services more accessible and relevant to people’s lives.Britain has a proud record of starting up and scaling up some of the best known fintech products, but we cannot rest on our laurels. The next powerhouses will not be created by accident."We must continue to nurture our start-up culture, but crucially we must also give our high growth firms the support to become global giants."With the right reforms that encourage entrepreneurialism, investment and make it easy to attract and invest in talent, Britain can usher in a period of dominance that can help us build back better from Covid-19."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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