Deeds Not Words. Christopher Woolard of FCA Announces First Cross Border Tests for Fintechs

It is UK Fintech Week in London and there has been a flurry of announcements regarding new programs designed to boost the status of London as a leading Fintech hub.

In a speech this morning, Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, declared that deeds are more important than just words.

Woolard discussed the ” next stage of the FCA’s innovation journey,” after five years on the job. Today, Innovation at the FCA is a “fully formed” division of the regulator.

Woolard announced the “first cross-border tests of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN)” to test new propositions. Today, GFIN claims a network of 29 global organizations.

Asking the question if the pursuit of Fintech innovation is working? Woolard stated, “the progress we have made is significant and real.”

“We’re enabling innovations onto the market faster. Groups of firms that have gone through our Innovate programme have come to market 40% faster than equivalent financial services firms. That equates to shaving three months from testing to roll out. Nearly 700 firms have received some kind of assistance from our innovation work. Of the 47 firms that have completed Sandbox testing, around 80% are operating in the market, with the necessary authorisation, and there are a further 63 in the pipeline. Of the 44 start-ups that tested in the first three Sandbox cohorts, almost half either received additional investment or were acquired during or after their test,” stated Woolard.

Woolard said they are at the point where things once viewed as niche are now really becoming mass market.  Sophisticated technologies are producing results for “real public gain.” Woolard believes the results are indicative of the “power of innovation.”

Of course, there remains much to do, said Woolard, as while the pace of change may adjust, innovation never stops. “The journey continues..”

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