By the London technology team
Fintech swimming fast
This week has seen another British fintech firm secure another big American investment. Money transfer service WorldRemit secured $100m from Silicon Valley, and is the latest vote of confidence for British fintech. They hope to take on established players like Western Union and conventional banks for a share of the $600bn sent ‘home’ every year.
The Government want the UK to become a world leader in the field, combining the UK’s strong financial sector with tech city and other tech clusters. Americans also see the UK as the logical choice for fintech investment, as UK firms are able to operate across the EU, whilst American firms need a licence in each state.
Another development has been the Royal Bank of Scotland announcing it will allow customers to access accounts via their mobile’s fingerprint sensor. Cyber-security concerns were heightened by the recent news on the $1bn attack on banks this week, but RBS/NatWest is confident the technology is safe and is a logical development given the rise of banking apps.
Obama attacks EU and says US has “owned the internet”
President Obama accused the EU of excessively attacking American technology in an interview with Re/Code. He said European criticism of American firms was commercially driven saying “We have owned the Internet. Our companies have created it, expanded it, perfected it, in ways they can’t compete. And oftentimes what is portrayed as high-minded positions on issues sometimes is designed to carve out their commercial interests.”
Needless to say EU officials disagreed, calling his comments out-of-line and said having one set of rules rather than twenty-eight helps American and European compete on a level playing field while protecting consumers. Europe is traditionally more pro-consumer than the US, so in a way, Obama’s intervention has mis-read European attitudes and could impact on-going negotiations on the ambitious trade agreement (TTIP).
Lords say digital skills can ‘make or break’ the UK’s future
The House of Lord’s Digital Skills Committee produced a report stating the need for the UK to raise its game on digital skills and calling for IT to have the same importance as maths and science in schools. The Committee encouraged the next Government to create a ‘Digital Agenda’ for the UK, under one Cabinet minister. It stressed the importance of digital skills to the UK’s future, including the thought-provoking statistic that 35% of UK jobs are likely to be automated over the next twenty years.
The Report also said the internet should be a ‘utility service that is available for all to access and use’ and that superfast broadband rollout needed to happen faster.
The UK’s digital skills and status as a leading digital economy is only going to rise up the political agenda in the coming years and the tech community will be eagerly awaiting the publication of the major parties’ General Election manifestos.
Sally Weale covered the report for The Guardian.