Emerging markets seeking London’s fintech crown
Emerging markets may not have quality or substance, but are catching up quickly, says Lord Mayor for the City of London and international ambassador for UK financial services Peter Estlin.
“There is a bit of an east and west” when it comes to financial innovation, Estlin tells an audience at Westminster attending the P20 Global Payments Conference.
The dominance and scale of India and China is growing, he says, with Africa also making waves. “They don’t have the quality, and no disrespect, but I expect that they don’t necessarily have some of the substance either. But they’re going to catch up pretty quickly.”
Estlin sees it as the UK’s social responsibility to lead the innovation race and collaborate far more than it’s already doing. As he puts it, the world has got pieces of a jigsaw, but no picture, suggesting the UK will need to be the mastermind behind putting it together.
The Lord Mayor tells the audience, full of UK banks and payment providers, to ask themselves how they are bringing these emerging markets, with different standards and cultures, together.
Estlin acknowledges an even “bigger challenge” for the industry globally. “I think part of the challenge that we continue to face is the tension between those in the business world and those on the global consumer landscape,” he says.
On the macro level institutions want to maintain stability, but on the micro level ordinary people want a democratised payments structure. Estlin admits this balance is hard to maintain.
When it comes to the routes which might lead to this democratisation, the lord mayor shares his opinion on Facebook’s Libra.
“I’ve got an open mind but not an open door,” he says. “So I’m not going to run roughshod over financial stability and security. In other words, we have an architecture. If you want to change it, fine, but we can make sure we change it in a way that doesn’t fundamentally collapse the system.”
Estlin mentions that one of the initiatives the UK government will announcing is called ‘Future Now’ on 10 October, otherwise known as ‘digital day’. He says nearly 50 businesses are onboard and have pledged to upskill employees and customers, closing the gap between big business and ordinary people.
Elsewhere, the P20 Global Conference also saw appearances from the former UK trade and investment minister under Gordon Brown, Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham, who’s talk had a heavily political focus, condemning “the rise of socialism” and praising the pride the UK should feel for achieving a “mixing pot” of culture and ethnicities in its capital city and beyond. Lord Digby was chairman of The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for six years, as well as serving as an adviser to Barclays Capital, Ford, Deloitte and JCB.