As London’s trading FinTech rockets ahead, investment in APAC fintech down in H1 2019

The new wave of FinTech companies that have begun to produce high profile alternatives to traditional banks and electronic financial services companies have absolutely captured the limelight over the past two to three years, resulting in a dynamic which is very unusual in the financial sector, that being vast investment from venture capital funds into absolutely new and untested ideas.

Particular technological and financial centers across the world have risen up to become extremely dominant in the development of new non-bank regions of excellence, including Singapore, Shanghai, Silicon Valley and the world’s leading force, London.

The Pulse of Fintech H1 2019

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Founder of London AI lab DeepMind placed on leave

The co-founder of Google’s London-based artificial intelligence lab DeepMind has been placed on leave amid controversy over some of its work.

Mustafa Suleyman is taking a period of absence, it was reported on Wednesday night. DeepMind, which Google paid around £400m for in 2014, is seen as a leading force in AI research but has been criticised over its work with the NHS.

Mr Suleyman, who founded the company in 2010 alongside chief executive Demis Hassabis, has been one of DeepMind’s public faces since it was bought. He is the lab’s head of applied AI and led the development of the company’s healthcare arm, until it was transferred to Google last year.

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Biotech startup secures £6.5m for dementia research

The search for the first drugs to tackle Alzheimer’s disease has taken a “fantastic step forward”, it was announced today.

A venture capital fund established by David Cameron’s government to boost dementia research announced a £6.5 million investment in a new biotech company that builds on research at University College London.

AstronauTx, the UCL spin-off, will develop medicines designed to reset the behaviour of astrocytes, crucial support cells in the brain, and potentially limit the damage caused by the disease. The cells have an important role in keeping nerve cells functioning, but they change in Alzheimer’s and become damaging.

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Stock trading app Robinhood gets UK broker license

Commission-free stock trading disruptor Robinhood is bringing its app to the UK market, in a bid to further globalise its mission of “democratising the financial system”. Stock trading app Robinhood gets UK broker license.

A blog post on its website confirms the fintech has been granted full authorisation by the UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to operate as a broker in the country.

The launch date has not been revealed, but the hiring process for roles in London has already started as Robinhood takes the first “critical step” in its global expansion.

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UK to become Islamic fintech centre

Islamic financial technology (fintech) companies are aiming to disrupt traditional Islamic banks. Like conventional fintechs, Islamic fintechs face similar challenges dealing with regulatory challenges, hiring and retaining talent, raising funds from investors, acquiring customers and expanding into other regions.

At the Innovate Finance Global Summit held in London last month, Islamic fintech was key topic of discussion at a roundtable hosted by Bahrain Economic Development Board and attended by thought leaders from both Bahrain including the recently launched Fintech Bay accelerator and representatives from the UK Islamic Fintech Panel. The roundtable discussed ways to support the success and development of Islamic fintech companies in the two countries.

Photo credits: Bahrain Economic Development (Innovate Finance Conference)

Innovate Finance is an independent membership association that represents the UK’s global FinTech community. Founded in 2014 and supported by the City of London and Broadgate, Innovate Finance is a not-for-profit that advances the country’s leading position in the financial services sector by supporting the next generation of technology-led financial services innovators.

Considering the UK is second only to Malaysia with the number of Islamic fintechs according to IFN Fintech, it is no surprise that in addition to Bahrain, representatives from Abu Dhabi and Dubai fintech accelerators were exhibiting at the Summit showcasing the opportunities available at their centres for UK fintechs.

This article was first published in Islamic Finance news Volume 15 Issue 17 dated the 25th April 2018.

The UK’s largest corporate Sukuk issuance; London Stock Exchange hosts Sukuk Summit

Aft er proposing its first-ever Sukuk offering in January, Al Rayan successfully closed the largest corporate Sukuk issuance in the UK’s history last month with the Tolkien Funding Sukuk No 1 raising GBP250 million (US$349.18 million) in capital. The Sukuk facility was rated ‘A’ and priced at 0.8% above the LIBOR rate. The bank did have to pay a relatively larger premium in comparison to conventional residential mortgage-back securities (RMBSs).

As an example, the Nationwide Building Society issued an RMBS on the same day for a premium of only 0.37% above the LIBOR. Nevertheless, the successful sale of Al Rayan’s Sukuk is a welcome development for the industry which has been recently overshadowed by the legal dispute between energy company Dana Gas and its Sukukholders since last year, a dispute which is still being contested in the courts.

On the 5th March, the London Stock Exchange hosted a timely Sukuk Summit to discuss ways to facilitate and support the issuance of Sukuk in the UK. With a keynote address from Dr Bandar Hajjar, the president of the IDB, the event brought together thought leaders from across the country.
“We have a real opportunity to recognize the potential of Islamic finance here in the UK,” Dr Bandar said in his address. “Both the UK government and the IDB are actively promoting this objective.” Considering the Jeddah-based IDB has capital of US$33 billion, with an initial funding plan of US$2.5 billion for the first half of 2018, it could definitely help accelerate the growth and development of Islamic finance projects and funding in the UK.

At the same event, the Bank of England also proposed to off er Shariah compliant liquidity tools to a wider range of financial institutions beyond Islamic banks to boost the growth of Islamic financial institutions such as mortgage companies, insurance and leasing firms.
According to Arshadur Rahman, a manager in the Bank of England’s Sterling Markets Division, the central bank is working on a fund-based deposit model. It would be able to help Islamic financial firms meet regulatory requirements for liquid asset buffers.

This article was first published in Islamic Finance news Volume 15 Issue 12 dated the 21st March 2018.


Last year over 2000 delegates and 300+ FinTechs gathered together in London to explore the topics changing the face of financial services. Join the Innovate Finance and be immersed in the ideas shaping global Fintech this coming March 2018.

IFGS 2018 will convene the global Fintech community to the Fintech capital world: London. Taking inspiration from the expansion of Fintech globally, the summit will welcome the world’s leading lights, from innovators, institutions, and investors to policymakers, regulators, and international trade bodies.

The annual Innovate Finance Global Summit 2018 kicked off the start of UK Fintech Week in London. Gathering over 300 Fintech companies, 200 speakers, and thousands of innovators, influencers and supporters from the global financial technology industry to explore the ideas and innovations shaping global fintech.

There were over 60 sessions held across the two days, from in-depth roundtable discussions on how to deliver real change with Open Banking, to ‘fireside chats’ with founders of Fintech unicorns. We did our best to take on as much as possible, whilst impossible to make an appearance at every event, we certainly made our mark on trying.

A journey from UK startup to global giant

Monday morning saw, Lance Uggla, founder of unicorn Markit (now IHS Markit)  talk about his journey from zero to 19 billion dollar company with Philip Stafford. Starting out as a UK startup, Lance noted from his experience in growing this startup to a global information giant that,

“Competitive edge comes in many different ways – but above all it’s subject matter experts and content. Use technology to leverage these to achieve the leading product and service”, and whilst in a world where technology seems to be at our every beck and call his words of advice were that “we need to ensure people feel enhanced by technology, not replaced” – something of reassurance in a time where we fear the rise of the robots. Lance’s thoughts were a great way to start the summit as they are certainly a business that many of the FinTechs in attendance would surely love to emulate.