Scotland’s growing financial technology sector has become the first in the UK, and only the third in Europe, to receive formal accreditation as a cluster of excellence.
The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA) looked at 36 economic indicators before making the award.
The Scottish cluster was founded as an independent industry organisation by the financial services sector, universities, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, and is overseen by FinTech Scotland.
Digital Economy Minister Kate Forbes said: “The global financial services sector is being transformed by technology, which is providing a range of benefits such as speeding up transactions, making payments more secure and helping avoid problem debt.
“Scotland is already at the forefront of these developments, which has helped attract major investments from large financial companies including Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, J.P. Morgan Chase as well as a number of fast-growing international fintech enterprises in the past 18 months.
“This accreditation will further increase our international profile and is another step towards the goal of being ranked among the world’s top five fintech cluster nations.”
Stephen Ingledew, chief executive of FinTech Scotland, said: “We’re very proud of this cluster excellence recognition. It’s a symbolic flag we can fly, which will increase our reputation among firms and investors across Europe, USA and the Far East.
“Scotland is increasingly being recognised as offering the innovation, skills, culture and expertise that global fintech enterprises and investors seek.
“As well as awarding the accreditation, ESCA’s benchmarking report details actions FinTech Scotland can lead to further develop the nation’s fintech cluster and global engagement which in turn will help shape our priorities for 2020 and beyond.”
The cluster award has been achieved as the two-year-old FinTech Scotland confirmed an increase in the number of strategic partners supporting the next stage of its strategy.
The strategic partners include: financial institutions, global technology and professional services firms, two of leading international universities developing fintech skills; the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde, as well as Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Government.
In addition, the Financial Conduct Authority continues support with the full-time secondment of a senior regulator to the FinTech Scotland team.
The broad range of FinTech Scotland strategic partners are expected to participate in a range of innovation and collaboration initiatives to drive further the development of the fintech cluster.
Ingledew said: “We’re delighted to partner with a broad range of forward thinking and innovative strategic enterprises in developing the fintech cluster, all who have recognised the economic, social and international value of our collaborative and inclusive model.”
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Linda Hanna, MD, Scottish Economic Development at Scottish Enterprise, said: “A huge amount of credit is due to FinTech Scotland for its leadership in securing this accreditation in such a short space of time.
“It sees FinTech Scotland join the country’s existing family of accredited cluster management organisations alongside ScotlandIS and Technology Scotland, underlining Scotland’s international standing as a nation of innovators.
“We look forward to working with Stephen and his team, plus their new and existing strategic partners, as they continue to nurture and encourage the growth of Scotland’s fintech ecosystem.”
Chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, Graeme Jones, said: “To be identified as the first fintech cluster in the UK is further recognition of Scotland’s position as a thriving, forward-thinking, international centre and is a landmark moment for Scotland. This will present new opportunities to deliver even more economic and social benefits to Scotland and the UK.”
Jane Morrison-Ross, chief executive of ScotlandIS, said: “We’re delighted that FinTech Scotland have achieved this award. This is a huge boost to the developing cluster economy in Scotland. We are very excited by the potential of the Scottish clusters and the opportunity to further collaborate with FinTech Scotland.”