George Osborne, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, is dreaming to see his country as a capital of fintech. He comes up with steps that can be taken to achieve this ambitious but still real goal.
Osborne mentioned his recent meeting with Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, at Bank of England Open Forum, saying: “I was thinking how extraordinary it was that you had a finance minister and the head of a tech company talking about the future of banking”. Meeting with Cook is a part of Osborne’s plan to bring London and the country in the whole to the leaders of financial technology. They were talking mostly about Apple Pay, the technology that allows people to make payments through their mobile phone.
By the way Apple’s European headquarters is located in Ireland. 5,000 employees are engaged in various types of activity from software development to accountancy there. Cook revealed that they have plans to create 1,000 more workplaces.
Osborne sees the possibility to move fintech area in the UK to a new level through creation of positive regulatory environment that encourages innovation in such spheres as mobile payments and bitcoin. He underlined that he will do his best to prevent regulators from introducing too strict regulatory measures that only stifle innovations. Osborne is planning to focus on “once dismissed” digital currencies which “may now well play a big part in our financial future.”
The Chancellor expresses confidence that the UK has all that is needed to become the next center of fintech. “We will go out of our way to do that. The race is on but we are determined to win it”, he says.
It’s interesting that UK’s authorities have already expressed intentions to make London a capital of bitcoin. In March they unveiled plans to regulate bitcoin exchanges in order to prevent their use in criminal activities, such as money laundering or drug sales. The initiative was praised by bitcoin proponents who acknowledge the necessity of legislation to regulate the digital currency that won’t stop innovation. Comparing to New York with its BitLicense, London seems to be more attractive for bitcoin businesses.
According to expert opinion of blockchain’s co-founder Nicolas Cary “London has been the home of financial innovation for hundreds of years. It would be a historical mistake not to make this the home of digital currencies. There’s an incredible amount of talent and experience here.”
The UK government was ready to allocate funds in the amount of $15 million for the research of bitcoin and its underlying technology. At the same time the Bank of England admitted to fully appreciate the potential of blockchain as a technology capable of revolutionizing the financial industry. With its help central banks could create their own digital currencies.
Openness to innovations can transform London from the center of traditional finance into the center of financial and digital technologies.