The UK government has announced the launch of a new £1 billion fund to support the growth of fintech firms in the country. The fund, which was recommended by the Kalifa Review of the UK’s fintech ecosystem, aims to address the £2 billion funding gap that fintechs face when scaling up from Series B to pre-IPO stage.
What is the fintech growth fund?
The fintech growth fund (FGF) is a private sector-led initiative that will invest in UK-based fintech firms that have the potential to become global leaders in their field. The fund will target fintechs that are at the growth stage, meaning they have already raised seed and Series A funding, and are looking for larger amounts of capital to expand their operations, customer base, and product offerings.
The FGF will be managed by UK FinTech Growth Partners LLP, a newly formed entity led by some of the most prominent figures in the UK’s financial sector, including former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins, former HSBC UK CEO Ian Stuart, and former Prudential UK CEO John Foley. The fund will also have an advisory board that will include representatives from the government, regulators, industry bodies, and academia.
The fund will seek to raise £1 billion from domestic private investors, including large institutions such as insurers and pension funds, as well as smaller institutions and family offices. The fund will aim to deploy £200 million per year over five years, filling 10% of the funding gap per annum.
Why is the fund needed?
The UK is widely regarded as one of the leading fintech hubs in the world, with more than 10% of the global market share and over 2,500 fintech firms operating in the country. The sector employs over 76,000 people and contributes £11 billion to the UK economy annually.
However, despite its success, the UK’s fintech sector faces a significant challenge when it comes to accessing growth capital. According to the Kalifa Review, which was published in February 2021, there is a £2 billion per annum funding gap for UK fintechs that are looking to scale up from Series B to pre-IPO stage. This gap is partly due to the lack of domestic institutional investors that are willing or able to invest in high-growth fintech assets. As a result, many UK fintechs either struggle to raise sufficient capital or end up being acquired by foreign competitors or big tech firms.
The FGF aims to address this gap by providing a dedicated source of funding for UK fintechs that have proven their business model and are ready to scale up. The fund will also provide strategic support and guidance to help fintechs navigate regulatory hurdles, access new markets, and attract talent. By doing so, the fund hopes to foster a more vibrant and diverse fintech ecosystem in the UK, and enable more fintechs to achieve unicorn status or go public.
What are the benefits of the fund?
The FGF is expected to bring several benefits to the UK’s fintech sector and the wider economy. Some of these benefits are:
- More innovation: The fund will enable more fintechs to develop and launch new products and services that can improve financial inclusion, efficiency, and customer experience.
- More competition: The fund will help more fintechs compete with incumbent financial institutions and big tech firms, both domestically and internationally.
- More jobs: The fund will create more employment opportunities in the fintech sector, as well as in related industries such as technology, legal, accounting, and consulting.
- More tax revenue: The fund will generate more tax revenue for the government, as well as increase the value of UK’s fintech exports.
- More reputation: The fund will enhance the UK’s reputation as a global leader in fintech innovation and regulation.
How can fintechs apply for the fund?
The FGF is expected to be operational by early 2024. Fintechs that are interested in applying for the fund will need to meet certain eligibility criteria, such as:
- Being based in the UK or having significant operations in the country
- Having a clear vision and strategy for growth
- Having a scalable and profitable business model
- Having a strong management team and governance structure
- Having a positive social and environmental impact
The fund will also consider other factors such as market size, competitive advantage, customer traction, regulatory compliance, and exit potential.
Fintechs that meet these criteria can submit their applications through an online portal that will be launched by UK FinTech Growth Partners LLP. The applications will be reviewed by a team of experts who will conduct due diligence and valuation exercises. The selected fintechs will then receive an offer letter from the fund outlining the terms and conditions of the investment.