March 15, 2021 Kalifa Review of UK Fintech
The Kalifa Review of UK Fintech was published on 24 February 2021 following a request made by the Chancellor as part of last year’s Budget.
The independent review conducted by Ron Kalifa OBE identifies priority areas to support the UK’s fintech sector. The Review formally launched in July 2020 with objectives for supporting the growth and widespread adoption of UK fintech, and for maintaining the UK’s global fintech reputation.
The Review sets out a series of proposals for how the UK can build on its existing strengths, create the right framework for continued innovation, and support UK firms to scale. Below, Elemental discusses the main recommendations and how we can help anyone seeking to establish or grow a fintech business in the UK.
The UK – a fintech success story
The UK represents 10% of global market share and investment into UK fintech was $4.1 billion in 2020 which is more than the next five European countries combined.
However, the Review notes that the UK’s position as a crucible for fintech is not assured. Competition, Brexit and Covid are identified as three broad threats to the country’s fintech leadership position.
Building on the UK’s current position would result in increased job creation and help to spur trade as the economy emerges from the global pandemic.
The Review identifies a five-point plan of recommendations to secure the future of fintech in the UK.
Policy and Regulation
The focus of the Review’s recommendations in this area is creating an enabling environment that encourages growth and competition. The Review recommends the creation of a new regulatory framework for emerging technology including digital ID and data standards.
The FCA’s regulatory sandbox has been viewed as a success. The Review expands on this concept by recommending the implementation of a “Scalebox” to support firms focusing on scaling innovative technology.
The Review also recommends that a Digital Economy Taskforce be established and that fintech forms an integral part of trade policy.
The Review implicitly criticises the Competition and Markets Authority, suggesting that it must adapt its approach to better balance competition and growth. A case for more flexibility in the assessment of mergers and investments for nascent markets is made.
The CBI estimates that 90% of the UK workforce will need to be reskilled before the decade ends. Fintech can play a role by creating new jobs and support upskilling efforts. The Review recommends a new visa stream to strengthen the UK’s position on immigration and the building of a talent pool by supporting fintech scale-ups.
The Review proposes an expansion of R&D tax credits, the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts. Some of these schemes already offer useful incentives some of which are misunderstood or underused. If you’d like to understand how these schemes might be able to benefit your business, please contact our tax and accountancy team.
In addition to an expansion of existing schemes, the Review proposes the creation of a £1 billion Fintech Growth Fund to act as the catalyst to develop world-leading fintech ecosystem.
In the public markets sphere, the Review suggests improving the listing environment through free float reduction, dual-class shares and a relaxation of pre-emption rights. This is a timely suggestion as Lord Hill reports on the listing rules. See our review of the Hill report here. The creation of a family of fintech indices is touted as a method of creating a bellwether for all UK fintech stocks.
An international action plan for fintech is proposed to combine public and private sector priorities in order to identify sectors and markets with the highest potential to scale. International collaboration should be led by the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
The Review mentions the famed ‘Silicone Roundabout’ in East London but is keen to point out that there is an abundance of fintech talent throughout the UK, particularly in its universities.
The Review proposes that each of the top 10 fintech clusters produce a three-year strategy that should be coordinated via the CFIT and driven via investment such as R&D.
How Elemental Can Help
The government will consider the contents and recommendations of the Review and respond with policy proposals in due course.
In the meantime, Elemental can provide support to ensure that you are compliant and are taking full advantage of existing benefits such as R&D tax credits, EIS and SEIS schemes.