FTC: Spotcap is a global online lender which launched in the UK in November 2016. Can you quickly outline why the firm has opted to tackle the UK market, particularly in the wake of Brexit?
Spotcap is a global company and was founded in 2014 with the aim to empower businesses with tailored finance. At the heart of Spotcap’s business sit several unique self-learning credit algorithms paired with human expertise.
We launched in the UK a few months after the Brexit referendum. Having analysed the result, we concluded that the situation was not a negative but rather an opportunity for our business model. During uncertain times, banks generally become more risk-averse and take a step back. As a result opportunities for the alternative finance sector to fill that gap emerge.
FTC: Is there room for collaboration between online lenders and banks or is it a case of all-and-out war?
Fintechs can benefit from collaborating with traditional finance houses. Initially, they were considered as being disruptive, but by now most of them have integrated well into the financial ecosystem. They have been doing this by focusing on collaboration and developing partnerships with other financial institutions, including banks, therefore evolving and changing finance for the better, ultimately making it more customer centric.
For example, since our launch in the UK, we have been in regular contact with incumbents as well as other fintechs to explore potential overlaps and common interests. I am proud to say that we have made great progress and will be announcing some exciting partnerships in the new year.
FTC: Where do you think the city you are based in ranks now, among the various global fintech hubs and what do you think will be the effect on London as the world’s leading FinTech hub post-Brexit?
I live in London, which is leading the way in Europe’s fintech scene and I think it is one of the - if not THE - global hotspot for fintech. This is not surprising as access to talent, supportive governmental policies as well as an accommodating regulatory framework make London a great place to launch a business. And with so many other fintechs as well as more traditional financial institutions based in the capital, there is an abundance of networking and partnership opportunities right at everyone’s doorstep.
FTC: Passporting rights and concerns over attracting and retaining talent are by far the most concerning aspects of a post-BREXIT society for UK fintech executives. What do you think the mid-to-long term consequences of the leave vote will be for UK FinTech?
We should keep in mind that the majority of fintechs don’t use any licensing and therefore do not require passporting. In addition to that, many are already internationally established in multiple jurisdictions. There is a smaller number of fintechs, however, which might potentially be impacted by the loss of passporting and have to set up a subsidiary in another EU country. That said, I don’t believe that it will come to this: It is in the interest of both the UK Government as well as the EU Commission to come to a mutual agreement to ensure that companies in the UK will continue to be able to export financial services and products to another EU/EEA country.
With regards talent, we have to remember that the fintech sector is one of the UK’s fastest growing and its continued success is closely connected to the access to talent in the long-term. To protect the fintech industry we need to think of ways to widen the pipeline of UK talent. For example, we launched a Fintech Fellowship for aspiring graduate students which highlights the need for talent and aims to raise awareness of career opportunities in fintech. In the coming years, the UK government, industry and academia will need to work together to ensure a strong future talent pool.
FTC: This year you will take part in a panel discussion accessing the scalability of alternative finance platforms. What is the one key point that you would share with budding entrepreneurs aiming to transform the financial sector?
Fintechs that continue to collaborate, innovate and make experienced hires are those most likely to succeed. We have already seen several high-profile fintechs fold. For example, companies like Bondcube and Powa fell to the wayside, burnt out from a lack of cash or a failure to penetrate the thick web of financial regulation.
One thing I can’t stress enough to entrepreneurs is that collaboration is key. By collaborating, firms can continue to push for innovation and improved customer experience. But in order to do so, entrepreneurs need to ensure that their company is built to collaborate and able to integrate with incumbents. Combined with a unique business idea and people who are eager to think outside of the box, they will be able to keep ahead of the curve.
Thank you to Niels Turfboer, Managing Director Spotcap UK & Benelux for taking to time to answer our questions! For more information on Spotcap please visit www.spotcap.co.uk.