Why the West Midlands is the new face of fintech innovation in the UK
The West Midlands is the latest region to join the Innovate Finance FinTech National Network, taking another step toward unifying the UK’s fintech sector
London may be one of the leading fintech hubs of the world, but make no mistake, that does not mean that the rest of the UK is missing out on the action. The West Midlands is the latest region in the UK to cement its position as a fintech hub in the UK, by undertaking a number of new commitments to accelerate innovation. Top Business Tech takes a closer look.
This week, it was announced that the West Midlands has joined Innovate Finance FinTech National Network, a strategic move during a time of increased investment in the region. The fintech industry alone is currently worth over £41mn pa to the local economy, and employs over seven thousand people across 122 companies.
What is the FinTech National Network?
The FinTech National Network very much lives up to its name: uniting all regions across Britain, it seeks to create one centralised body to represent the UK fintech scene on an international scale. Drawing together skills, capital and investment, The FinTech National Network already has a number of companies its ranks from the Midlands, including professional services technology (ProfTech), SuperTech.
[image: Birmingham Centenary Square]
The SuperTech Spearhead
The most notable addition to the collective in the West Midlands is SuperTech, the UK’s first ProfTech supercluster, which will showcase investment potential in the region across FinTech, LegalTech, PropTech and InsurTech.
The CEO at Innovate Finance, Charlotte Crosswell, commented: “We are delighted that SuperTech is joining the FinTech National Network and look forward to working with the West Midlands, alongside the other Network members, to drive the domestic FinTech agenda in the UK.”
She continued: “The UK is a global FinTech leader and a highly attractive destination for investment, but in order to retain its position, it is important to leverage the collaboration between the various centres of excellence that are thriving across the country.”
This news follows shortly behind the announcement back in May 2021, when the City of London Corporation shared that it would join forces with SuperTech to build upon the innovation happening in the region, with fintech at the heart of its focus.
Hilary Smyth-Allen, Executive Lead at SuperTech, said: “We launched SuperTech in January 2021 with the sole purpose of shining a spotlight on the strength of the West Midlands’ burgeoning community of tech-led professional and financial services expertise, as the exemplar of how UK regions hold the key to unlocking emerging sectors vital to the country’s economic future.
“We are eagerly awaiting a formal response from Whitehall outlining the industry’s future policy direction, and in the meantime continue to champion our region’s ProfTech potential as clear evidence of ‘levelling up’ in practice.”
Investments from financial heavyweights
Following a lengthy decision-making process, major firm Goldman Sachs announced plans earlier this month to create a new tech function in Birmingham; the investment firm’s largest investment outside of London. Birmingham was the leading choice, due to its budding technology industry and strong talent pool. The creation of this hub will create several hundred jobs in the region.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Growth Company – the region’s official promotion agency, said: “Goldman Sachs’ investment undoubtedly cements the West Midlands’ prominence on a global scale; it is powerful affirmation of our region’s appeal to the aspirations of the world’s most iconic, multinational financial services brands and the talent they seek to attract. As the outcome of a meticulous review of the UK’s digital employment base, it is another resounding endorsement of our best-in-class talent from the technology and finance sectors.”
Top fintechs to watch in the Midlands
One fintech to watch within the region is award-winning company, PM Connect, a leading payment specialist, providing in-demand content monetised through Direct Carrier Billing (DCB). PM Connect currently processes over 10 million payments a month, with an outreach of over one billion consumers internationally. The fintech broke into the cloud gaming market back in February, after announcing a partnership with gaming provider RemoteMyApp. This partnership will allow users of its streaming platform, Vortex, access to over 165 top tier games on their mobile phones, without the use of a console.
CEO James MacFarlane, who started the Birmingham business straight out of university, said: “As we continue on our ambitious growth journey, we are proud to be carving out PM Connect as a Birmingham-based global business.”
“PM Connect is now active in 40+ territories, processing 10 million payments every month, with five offices around the world but the West Midlands remains the best location for us to be headquartered – offering both the tech talent to support planned growth and a vibrant place to work for our dynamic, driven team,” he added.
There are a number of other fintech companies in the Midlands which are garnering traction, including technology provider Delta Financial Systems, accountTech leader BlackLine and Parisian Artificial Intelligence order-to-cash firm Sidetrade, the last of which opened a Tech Hub in Birmingham, and announced a £12mn in R&D investment over the course of the next two years to support 100 engineers. Without a doubt, it is certainly an exciting time for the West Midlands fintech industry.
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