A national hub for FinTech excellence has been launched in Leeds to boost the sector’s global growth potential.

The Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) is backed by £5.5 million of Treasury and City of London Corporation funding.

CFIT was announced at an event in Leeds yesterday alongside news that the UK Infrastructure Bank – a state-owned development bank created in 2021 to help achieve the government’s plan to reach net-zero carbon by 2050 and support regional economic growth – is expanding its presence in the West Yorkshire city, creating around 280 jobs.

The UK’s FinTech sector supports around 2,500 firms and tens of thousands of jobs in the UK. It is second globally only to the US for FinTech investment, well ahead of the likes of China and India.

CFIT will aim to boost people and businesses up and down the country, enabling them to benefit from new waves of technological change and innovation – widening consumer choice, cutting costs and increasing efficiency for firms.

“The launch of CFIT represents a significant moment for the UK’s FinTech sector and our economy more widely,” said Charlotte Crosswell OBE (pictured), chair of CFIT. 

“This organisation will enable us to come together as a sector to start breaking down barriers that the FinTech sector is facing while creating a clear path for our homegrown fintech companies to achieve global scale, impact and success.

“Today’s announcement marks an important first step in our work supporting the growth and development of the UK FinTech sector by empowering its talented innovators and trailblazers in every corner of the country.”

FinTech 50 – UK’s most innovative financial technology creators for 2022

The Centre has been established in response to Ron Kalifa’s review into UK FinTech. Since this report was published in 2021, government has been working across industry and regulators to deliver on the recommendations, including introducing a fast-track visa system for FinTech scaleups, implementing an FCA scale box allowing innovators to trial new products, and reforming its listings regime to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s dominant capital markets hotspot.

“I am thrilled to see the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology – one of the key recommendations of the 2021 Kalifa Review – launch in Leeds,” said Kalifa, chairman of Network International.

“The Centre will be instrumental in fostering collaboration between industry, academia and policymakers, promoting innovation, and turbo-charging the adoption of new technologies for businesses and consumers. 

“I have no doubt that it will enable the UK’s fintech sector to become more competitive, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have across the UK in the weeks, months and years to come.”

Thought Machine to increase global headcount by 20%

At the event, CFIT announced the establishment of financial innovation hubs with comprehensive reach across the UK’s nations and regions – including in key growth centres such as Leeds. 

The city has seen enormous FinTech growth since 2020, with its number of FinTech firms more than doubling to 107, and valuation of firms doubling to reach £710 million – supporting over 7,500 jobs.

Snoop unveils free two-tap budgeting service

“The UK is a world-leading location for FinTech growth and investment – it’s a real British success story and one that’s spread across the whole UK,” said Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith. 

“The launch of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology doubles down on this, boosting prosperity and investment in exciting cities for growth and innovation such as Leeds.”

UK Infrastructure Bank CEO John Flint added: “The fact we are anchored in Leeds is a key part of our identity. It aligns with our mission to drive up regional and local economic growth. 

“It also makes us part of a growing movement, with many other significant organisations – for example, Channel 4, the Financial Conduct Authority, and the National Infrastructure Commission – establishing or expanding bases here.”

Users treble on FinTech platform after £30m fundraise