Sunday, 17 August 2014

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

City of London from the Thames
Photo Wikipedia

Jane Lambert

The other day I received a copy of an email from our director of policy welcoming our "organization" to membership of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  According to the Chamber's website it is the capital's largest independent networking and business support organisation representing the interests of thousands of companies, connecting over 500,000 business people  every year and offering a wide range of practical and professional services.

I have spent much of the morning exploring the website, particularly
I intend to make the most of our membership and participate in as many of those events as possible. It is a great opportunity to explain to business leaders what members of our profession can do for them (see IP Services from Barristers 6 April 2013 4-5 IP blog) and the different ways they can access our services from our workshops and pro bono clinics to our high level representation and consultancy.

Coincidentally, I downloaded and read yesterday Eddie Copeland and Cameron Scott's report Silicon Cities which is published by Policy Exchange. This report discusses how to support the development of tech clusters outside London and the South East of England. As I was born in Manchester and still live in the town where Last of the Summer Wine was shot (we actually have a real vineyard just outside by the way) that is a topic that is very dear to my heart. As I have argued elsewhere it is in the national interest to create a counterweight to London and this report suggests ways in which that can be done. But creating a counterweight does not mean creating a brake. On the contrary it means creating a partner for the capital.

I was pleased to read the Chamber's press release Time to give cities the powers to grow of the 9 July 2014:
"Having long campaigned for greater financial freedom for London, today's report represents a welcome indication that Parliament understands the benefits that fiscal devolution will bring to the capital, and England's other cities and regions."
I made exactly the same point in a question to Nick Clegg at the Leeds International Economic Conference a few days earlier (see "Power. Performance. Potential. Leeds Economic Conference" 5 July 2014 IP North West).  The idea of a North South divide in a country the size of Britain has always been absurd to me. It is good to see that we are all beginning to sing from the same hymn sheet at last.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

What is Fintech? Will it be an Engine for Growth or a Seven Day Wonder?

Jane Lambert

Fintech is short for financial technology, that is to say payment systems, services, software and data analytics. According to Fintech The UK’s unique  environment for growth the industry is worth £20 billion with payments technology accounting for about half those sales. The same report states that the UK and Irish Republic are the fastest growing region for fintech and that £265 million was invested in the industry in 2013.

As a result of this investment boom there has been growing interest in fintech from government and investors. In a speech to Innovate Finance at Level 39 on 6 Aug 2014 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced several new measures to encourage investment in fintech.  On 2 July 2014 Santander announced that it had set up a $100 million investment fund in London. There are now all sorts of fintech enterprises which are monitored by such companies as FinTechCity which publishes the annual Fintech 50.

Although London is an important market for financial technology it is important to note that there were only 3 British firms in 2013 FinTech 100 Rankings Released By IDC Financial Insights, American Banker, and Bank Technology News compared to 10 from India and many more from the USA. On page 11 of The Boom in Global Fintech Investment A new growth opportunity for London Accenture London identified the following challenges for London's fintech cluster:

  • London's fintech industry is relatively immature;
  • there are many first more time entrepreneurs than elsewhere in the world
  • it is harder for them to raise funding than their US counterparts.
In How far (if at all) is it possible to protect Innovation in Financial Technology? 12 Aug 2014 IP Yorkshire I spotted yet another difficulty, namely that it is much harder to obtain patent protection for fintech inventions than it is in China, Japan, Korea and the USA.

Interest in fintech has mushroomed and could subside just as quickly but until it does I shall be keeping an eye on the legal issues and particularly IP relating to this technology.  The name fintech is new but I have followed the topic ever since the early 80s when I was legal advisor to VISA for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I wrote one of the first articles on the subject in EFTS: the Emerging Legal Issues LSGaz 1984 and I contributed a section on electronic banking to Butterworths Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents in 1985. If there is sufficient interest in the legal issues relating to fintech I shall try to hold a workshop or seminar on the topic in chambers. In the meantime here is a reading list which I shall no doubt extend from time to time. If anybody wants to discuss this article or the law relating to fintech in general he or she can call me during office hours on 020 7404 5252 or message me through my contact form. You can also tweet me, write on my wall or send me a message through G+Linkedin or Xing.

Further Reading

General Introductions
FinTechCity  The FinTech 50 (downloadable from Welcome to The FinTech 50)
IPC Financial Insights and others 2013 FinTech 100 Rankings 7 Nov 2013

Press Releases
Santander  "Santander to launch a $100M fund for fintech companies out of London" 2 July 2014

George Osborne "Chancellor on developing FinTech"  6 Aug 2014

Intellectual Property