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France is best for croissants, London for finance – City Minister

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Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen had had a dig at France’s ambitions to replace the UK as Europe’s leading fintech hub in a speech at the Innovate Finance Global Summit.

Speaking to a packed audience of financiers, Glen took a pot shot at French premier Macron before reeling off a list of London’s achievements.

“I hear rumblings from across the Channel that President Macron is looking to drag you all over to Paris. And I understand why – it’s a great city,” he said. “So, hop on a Eurostar, enjoy a weekend away, stock up on croissants etc. Then come on back to London on Monday morning to carry on making money/go back to work/crack on as you have been.”

Glen argued that Macron could not hope to replace the UK’s role as a magnet for money and innovation, adding that the sector is worth over £6 billion to the UK economy, employing 60,000 people across 1600 firms.

As a champion for fintech in the UK, the Government will continue to work hand-in-hand with regulators to address new challenges and help drive innovation forward Glen promised, pointing to a forthcoming speech by Chancellor Philip Hammond which will lay out a fintech strategy plan.

Part of this will include the creation of a taskforce led by the Treasury, Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority to look into the risks associated with cryptocurrencies and the prospects for blockchain technology.

“While the pipeline of opportunity presented by the underlying technology is immense, crypto-assets, such as bitcoin, may pose risks,” Glenn said. “So in our upcoming Fintech Sector Strategy, the government will announce further work with the FCA and Bank of England to consider these issues in more detail.”

Glen also announced the winners of a £2 million Government-backed ‘Rent-Recognition’ challenge, which sought solutions to the problems of providing credit scores to UK citizens living in rented accommodation. Six startups – Bud, Canopy, Credit Ladder, Metalabs, Movem and RentalStep – made the grade and will split the cash to develop systems enabling tenants to collect their rental data, and share it with lenders and credit reference agencies.

 

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