Is the UK Still a FinTech Hub Amidst Market Volatility?

28 Jun 2024

In the world of UK FinTech, nothing stays still for long. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of the latest trend, the landscape shifts beneath your feet. From sky-high investments to Brexit-induced headaches, it’s been a whirlwind few years for Britain’s financial innovators.

The last few years have been nothing short of a financial rollercoaster for the UK FinTech sector. Once the darling of the innovation economy, it’s now grappling with shrinking investments and a tough economic climate. According to, in 2023, global FinTech investment plummeted to $51.2 billion from $99 billion the previous year. The UK saw a significant drop, too, attracting just $5.1 billion compared to $14.6 billion in 2022.

Forbes provides data for 2024: in the first quarter, British startups attracted $3.9 billion in investment, down from $4.8 billion the previous quarter. Early-stage pre-seed and seed funding accounted for $279 million of that total, while $769 million was raised in Series A rounds. This improvement in early-stage investment was a rare bright spot amidst the gloomy numbers.

Jason Miles, founder of Payment Solutions Consultants in Britain, observed, “The overall market trends have shifted from stability to volatility.” He noted that in 2020 and 2021, capital raising was a breeze for FinTech firms. “If you had a good idea, you just raised some money and started to implement it,” he said. “Now, venture capitalists want a thorough business plan in place. They want to meet regularly.”

Mr. Miles also mentioned increased scrutiny of FinTech teams, their backgrounds, and compliance records. This shift is attributed to rising interest rates, higher capital costs, and geopolitical uncertainties. A turbulent public market and inflation fears are also impacting capital raising. He highlighted that venture capitalists now often disburse funds in tranches, linking further investment to milestone achievements.

Down rounds are becoming more common, where firms raise new capital at valuations lower than previous rounds. “There is a higher level of due diligence. Depending upon performance, you may see some down rounds of funding occurring,” added Mr Miles.

The Other Hurdles for UK FinTech

While businesses panicked over COVID-19, FinTech companies thrived in the new normal, benefiting from their digital-first approach. This period highlighted the fragility of legacy banking systems, which struggled with the shift online. FinTech firms, already digital-centric, capitalized on this shift, accelerating innovation and the adoption of digital financial solutions.

However, it wasn't all smooth sailing — Brexit soon occurred, bringing with it a labyrinth of new regulations and licensing requirements for the FinTech industry. UK-based companies wanting to do business in Europe now need European licenses and must adhere to EU data storage and client norms. It’s a costly and complex endeavor, limiting the scalability of British FinTech firms. The ability of British FinTech companies to scale has weakened as access to EU markets is restricted. The forced relocation of parts of the business to the EU means a loss of revenue for the UK from FinTech companies. Major British FinTech companies are more inclined to merge with or acquire technology companies outside the UK, which could lead to a loss of potential investments in the coming years.

As the online presence and number of FinTech services grow, the frequency and sophistication of cybercrimes are increasing proportionally.  A new wave began with the widespread adoption of AI – I wrote about this in the article “FinTech Wary as AI Fuels Financial Crime Surge.”

The rise in cybercrime is pushing FinTech firms to up their game. FinTech companies are increasing their investments in cybersecurity, allocating more resources to the development and implementation of advanced protection technologies, staff training, and cyber threat monitoring. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are being deployed to detect abnormal behavior and prevent cyberattacks. Multi-factor authentication, including the use of biometric data and one-time passwords, is enhancing user security. Enhanced data protection measures, regular monitoring for data breaches, and strict security policies are becoming standard. According to the FinTech Payrow, financial companies are establishing partnerships with specialised cybersecurity firms and startups to gain access to advanced technologies and expertise in cybersecurity.

The government has also taken measures to enhance data security, such as the introduction of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act, which mandates that smart devices meet minimum security standards and provides security issue reporting contact details and update durations.

Innovation Amidst Chaos

Technology has always been the lifeblood of FinTech firms, enabling them to outpace traditional banks. Over the past five years, automation, AI integration, and niche products have become the norm. The digital transformation was more than a buzzword; it was a necessity. As consumers and businesses moved online, FinTech companies were ready with user-friendly interfaces, swift transactions, and low fees.

Automation has streamlined operations, while AI has revolutionized service delivery and decision-making processes. Niche products tailored to specific customer needs have gained popularity, and open banking has made financial services more transparent. Technologies like IoT, AI, and Big Data are leading this era, with the sector’s value projected to reach between $11 to $17 trillion by 2030, according to reports from McKinsey.

The Road Ahead

In 2024, financial inclusion remains a key objective. As we forge ahead with the development of the Fintech industry, the barriers for startups are getting higher. To stay in the game, founders need to focus on building user-friendly products, forming smart partnerships, thinking about scalability, and being diligent about security and reputation.

So, what can FinTech companies do to maintain and grow their customer base? Several ideas are thrown around in the article “Scaling FinTech Startups in 2024: Strategies and Challenges.” The suggestions include making the most of strategic alliances, building scalable solutions, focusing on security, reputation, and trust, prioritizing the customer experience, monetizing intelligently, and not being afraid to experiment.

Regarding government support, the UK offers some unique perks for FinTech startups, including the Talent Visa and tax incentives such as EIS/SEIS. These measures provide substantial benefits to FinTech companies, founders, and employees during the early stages. However, low startup valuations compared to the US and a cautious stance from venture investors are not conducive to rapid growth in the UK FinTech sector.