When Fintech Wales announced the cohort for its 2022 Foundry Accelerator Programme earlier this month – extending offers to nine startups from across the UK and Europe – it signalled yet another step forward for a key CCR-supported Priority Sector: the fast-growing Southeast Wales financial technology cluster that’s already been acknowledged as a key fintech centre by the UK Government-sponsored Kalifa review.
Fintech Wales’ forthcoming 12-week programme will look to build on the tremendous success of its 2021 Foundry, in a region that last year saw Cardiff-based fintech Yoello winning a clutch of awards (including the prestigious UK Tech Nation Rising Star accolade) and Sero (an alumni of the 2021 Foundry Programme) starting 2022 by securing a £5.5m investment from Hodge Bank and Legal & General.
Given the growing strength and depth of our digital and cyber skills across the region, it’s little wonder that our fintechs are flying higher, further and faster than ever before – with established companies such as Admiral, GoCompare and Principality Building Society (as well as world-leading SMEs like CoinCover, Sonovate and Wealthify), being able to rely on the digital talent and infrastructure that’s so essential to any fintech business.
Nurturing a sustainable sector-specific skillsbase is a key pillar of the FinTech Wales mission – and as a region we already have core skill collaborations in place to build the bespoke talent pipelines needed for this increasingly valuable sector.
Collaborations at the heart of nurturing a sustainable fintech skillbase
Cardiff University has shown real vision in quickly understanding fintech’s wave of creative disruption, how it will transform the finance landscape – and how it’s already impacting on our economy: with phenomena such as cryptocurrencies suddenly competing with flat currencies, changing the shape of the existing payment system and posing a real challenge to central and commercial banks.
The Academics at Cardiff University’s Fintech Research Group are working with a number of enterprises on collaborative R&D projects, combining innovative business models and computer technology to improve financial services by utilising cryptocurrencies, blockchain, open banking, insuretech, robo-advisors, digital payment systems, crowdfunding, algorithmic and high frequency trading, machine learning and computer-assisted textual analysis.
The results are already tangible, with companies such as ActiveQuote, Admiral, Confused and Wealthify all benefiting from these collaborative innovations – as well as the University’s Data Innovation Accelerator working with enterprises such as W2 Global; and career pathways into the industry are already established through the National Software Academy, the Data Science Academy, the School of Computer Science and Informatics (the alter mater of Yoello’s Sina Yamani) and specialist courses that include a BSc in Financial Maths and a one-year MSc in Fintech.
A skillsbase bringing high-value jobs – and being a force for good
Cardiff University’s Fintech Research Group is well on its way to becoming an internationally recognised institute – a leader in interdisciplinary Fintech research – engaging in innovative industrially-relevant collaboration. And it’s by no means on its own. Cardiff Metropolitan University is blazing its own trail as a fintech R&D partner, with Cardiff Met’s School of Technologies specialising in areas such as provenance, blockchain, data modelling, data interoperability, interactive data visualisation, virtualisation and machine learning – giving fintech in our region the potential to stand for something new and much-needed, by being the first wave of fintechs to deliver a democratic and fair financial system that’s progressive and inclusive.
This culture of collaboration across the Cardiff Capital Region gives credence to the Fintech Wales vision of building a sector that will enjoy international repute – with a sustainable skills pipeline taking pride of place at the very heart of the ecosystem. And that vision is already becoming a reality – with Wagonex citing the Southeast Wales fintech skills pipeline as their primary reason for migrating many of their core operations from London to Penarth in the summer of 2021.
It’s difficult to overstate our fintech opportunity in a sector that’s currently worth around £110 billion globally and is expected to more than triple to £380 billion by the end of the decade. With financial service technology investments in the UK reaching more than £8 billion in 2021 – and regional investment growing at a record rate – fintech is powerfully placed to build on the firm foundations already established in the CCR: offering highly fulfilling skills programmes and hugely rewarding opportunities in the fast-evolving fintech ecosystem that’s growing so impressively here in our region.
Find out more about the skills pipelines being built in our region at www.venturewales.org