ICAEW and ISCA launch research report on fintech innovation

  • Five key elements identified to underpin a fintech hub
  • Global fintech investment almost doubling to US$38.9bn between 2014 and 2017

ICAEW and ISCA launch research report on fintech innovation

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) today jointly launched a research report titled “Fintech innovation: perspectives from Singapore and London”. The report consolidated the findings from research undertaken by ICAEW and ISCA into the fintech industry in London and Singapore to identify drivers of successful fintech innovation.

In the report, there are five key elements identified to underpin a fintech hub, namely markets, talent, capital, regulation and government support. Three of these elements – markets, talent and capital – are the responsibility of individual fintech companies, with the other two – regulation and government support – providing the underlying infrastructure and foundation for success.

Generally, successful hubs bring together people with the right skills, the financial infrastructure to support businesses and growing markets for products or services. However, while the five core elements of innovation are common, there are also many differences between fintech markets. Therefore, businesses, regulators and governments need to adapt and tailor their fintech strategies to meet specific needs of the country.

“Fintech is most effective when innovators, investors and regulators can interact, build networks and learn from each other. Exploring successful hubs where these elements are working in harmony is a good way to learn about what drives successful fintech innovation,” said Mark Billington, ICAEW Regional Director, South-East Asia, “We are delighted to partner with ISCA to unveil our research findings on the successes of Singapore and London as excellent leading hubs, which will provide a clearer understanding into how we can better grasp the opportunities in the industry.”

“The fintech industry holds tremendous opportunities for the accountancy profession. With Singapore and London being the world’s leading fintech hubs, our collaboration with ICAEW enables us to provide insights on an industry that is growing at an exponential pace. As the fintech sector matures, there will be wide-ranging impact on the accountancy sector. To perform their role as valued business partners, accounting professionals must keep abreast of latest business trends. With this report, we aim to provide accounting professionals with an overview of the fintech industry and consider how changes in the industry will impact the profession,” said Mr Lee Fook Chiew, Chief Executive Officer, ISCA.

The report highlights that both London and Singapore have benefitted from having all the key elements that support fintech innovation in a single location, as well as mature and successful financial services sectors which provide strong foundations for fintech. No hub can operate in isolation, and the characteristics of the fintech hubs in London and Singapore emphasise the importance of strong links with other hubs.

In addition, the report also explores the implications of fintech for the accountancy profession. As fintech provides direct opportunities and challenges for accountants, the profession must be prepared to evolve its practices to deal with them where needed. There are opportunities for accountants to advise fintech businesses on appropriate controls, assist in navigating some of the regulatory requirements, and play a crucial role in evaluating how new fintech business models deliver against the essential functions of financial services.

Kirstin Gillon, ICAEW Technical Manager, IT Faculty and principal project researcher and report author said: “The efficiency, convenience and reach of financial services has been significantly enhanced by the development of the fintech industry. Today, the booming sector enjoys fast-growing and tremendous investment globally, with global fintech investment almost doubling to US$38.9bn between 2014 and 2017. For countries aspiring to be a centre of fintech innovation and reap the potential benefits of the industry, it is important to learn from successful fintech hubs such as Singapore and London and for governments to invest funds or programmes to support the growth of the sector.”

The key findings of the report were presented by Kirstin Gillon at the launch event, followed by a panel discussion in Singapore, which brought together fintech innovators, banks and advisors to share their different perspectives. Panelists include representatives from the Singapore FinTech Association, Standard Chartered Bank, EY and Bitcoin Exchange.

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