Impressions: IFTC 2018 Where Will Fintech Go this Year?

Dhanum Nursigadoo
5min read

Brexit, GDPR, robo-regulation, fintech bridges, and envoys. Those were the big topics at the Treasury’s International Fintech Conference (IFTC) this year, held at Tobacco Dock.

While senior members of our media team were interviewing an MP, keynote speakers (coming soon to your favourite podcast app!) and sitting pretty in a private lounge. I explored the IFTC floor to get an impression of the fintech landscape for 2018.

Brexit is Irrelevant while GDPR Looms in the Distance

Walking the exhibition floor was an illuminating experience. Philip Hammond’s keynote address was full of promise about stabilising the fintech sector regardless of Brexit’s outcomes. But while I spoke to exhibitors about their products and their plans for the future, Brexit was the least of their concerns. GDPR, set to be enforced E.U. wide on 25 May, is where the real fear lies. Most fintechs believe that regardless of Brexit they’ll be fine. A few adjustments might have to be made but it’s a bumpy wave rather than a storm. GDPR, however, is set to cause more than a few upsets, especially for companies aiming at the open banking market or those that integrate user data into their business model. Fortunately, as with any issue, fintechs are making the best of a bad situation. Many already have a strategy in place or contracts with GDPR compliance firms. Those who specialise in personal data for their services are making changes to their algorithms so compliance won’t affect service. Automated compliance software targeted specifically towards GDPR is being sold by a number of tech firms already. A sector likely to see a surge in the near future given the Chancellor’s focus on robo-regulation.

Ruled by Robots

Regulatory compliance is prohibitively expensive no matter the size of a company (as Simon Taylor notes on the podcast I know you’ve listened to here). But a new wave of regtech is coming, set to ease the burden for all. However, a common question running through this topic is who’s responsible? If the robo-regulation makes an error who pays for that mistake? A fair answer was given in the Consumers Competition and Co-operation: Global Leaders in Regulation discussion. The buck stops with whoever is using that software. If you use it you need to make sure that they do follow the regulations. A.I. is not an excuse for failing to comply.

IFTC: Connecting Across the Globe

One of the biggest announcements to come from the IFTC was the fintech bridge to Australia. This bridge between two nations will give fintech companies in both an insight into regulatory processes. New regulations will be formed by regulators in the UK and Australia working together to support firms in both countries. The Chancellor has committed to doubling the number of Tier 1 visas available, possibly attempting to Brexit-proof the sector. Not that Brexit appears to be an issue given too much concern by the sector itself. Regardless of the outcome the Treasury remains committed to keeping the UK a fintech hub. Conversation between the industry and government is set to improve further with the announcement of 3 new fintech envoys. David Duffy was announced as the new envoy to England, two more will be assigned to Wales and Northern Ireland, although there’s no word yet on who those’ll be. The envoys are designed to be a communication relay between the region and the government. A channel to make sure both parties are on the same page, meaning there’ll be smoother sailing in the future.