London beats New York in attracting major FinTech deals

New research reveals the UK capital has attracted a total of 114 deals worth a record $2.1 billion

Employees hold a card payment terminal and display the Wirecard AG Boon app on a Fitbit Inc. smartwatch at the Wirecard headquarters in Munich, Germany, on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. Commerzbank AG, part of the DAX Index stock gauge since its inception in 1988, will be replaced by fintech company Wirecard AG, index provider Deutsche Boerse AG said in a statement late on Wednesday. Photographer: Matthias Doering/Bloomberg

Financial technology firms in London have completed more fundraising deals than counterparts in major US cities for the first time, new research has revealed.

London FinTechs completed 114 fundraising deals in the first eight months of the year worth $2.1 billion (Dh7.7bn), according to new research by Innnovate Finance and London & Partners, the promotional body run by the Mayor of London's office.

By comparison, there were 101 deals involving FinTechs in New York and 80 deals for San Francisco-based firms.

San Francisco is still top in terms of the value of deals, with $3 billion raised in the first eight months. New York FinTechs raised $1.93 billion, in Berlin $881m and Stockholm-based companies raised $735m.

In an interview with CNBC, Charlotte Crosswell, CEO of Innovate Finance, said: "Generally what you're seeing is a maturing of the sector.

"The numbers of deals are coming down slightly but the size is going up. That's very natural and we would expect to see that as companies are becoming more successful and scaling globally as well."

The US remains the largest FinTech market in the world, with start-ups generating $9.4 billion so far this year.

However, experts say the UK and Europe are ahead of the game in new FinTech apps.

Shachar Bialick, co-founder and CEO of FinTech firm Curve, told CNBC: "There is much more advanced competition in the UK.

"In Europe it's significantly higher than the US. The US is very much behind when it comes to new FinTech technologies."

The popularity of challenger banks in the UK has seen mobile banking app Monzo gaining 3 million customers. Starling Bank, which launched the UK's first app-only current account in March 2017, now has more than 600,000 accounts. It has raised £233m in funding to date.

Anton Ruddenklau, global FinTech co-lead at KPMG, told The National that despite the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, London's FinTech industry is not likely to lose its edge anytime soon.

“We've got a big demand side, we've got a financial services industry here and we have more head offices for banks here in London than anywhere else in the world. That's not changing overnight,” he said.

“Secondly, we've got four of the top universities in our location so the academia, the supply of talent, particularly around technology, stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills and all that is just awesome. People come from China and the US and other parts of the world to get that experience.”

London’s FinTech industry is larger than the rest of Europe combined, he said.

Although New York is also FinTech hub with an unparalleled financial services industry, it lacks the “rich combination of skills and legacy” London has, Mr Ruddenklau added.

Victoria Birch, partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, told The National that retaining FinTech talent could be challenging in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Despite this, she remained optimistic that Britain will continue to heavily invest in the sector.

“I think for us in the UK it’s [FinTech] the low hanging fruit. We already have excellency in FinTech, so it’s the obvious thing for us to maintain our edge. I think it’ll be a key part [of the UK] going forward.”