An Edinburgh-based data organisation which aims to “open finance for good” has named a global banking and technology expert as its new chief executive.

Smart Data Foundry has brought its six-month international recruitment search to a close with the appointment of Frank Gauld, former vice president of software giant NCR’s digital cloud banking platform.

Gauld will drive the strategic direction of the organisation, based at the University of Edinburgh, tasked with spearheading safe data sharing in order to tackle societal, economic, and environmental challenges. 

This comes after the appointment of Dame Julia Unwin as chair, and the recent major rebrand to Smart Data Foundry to “better reflect” its purpose.

A University of Edinburgh graduate, Gauld has held a number of senior roles within NCR from its base in Atlanta.  

Before moving to NCR in America in 2017, he held high-profile roles at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank as chief investment officer for change and IT development. He will relocate to Scotland this month to take up the new position.

His appointment coincides with the recent publication of the FinTech Scotland 10-year Research and Innovation roadmap, which aims to drive a threefold increase in economic growth and job creation to deliver against the recommendations in the Kalifa Review.

Gauld said: “This role provides the opportunity to improve people’s lives through the application of technology, innovation and financial services – this ambition leverages my experience with a wonderful mission which is why I was attracted to the position.  

“I look forward to driving systemic change to how consumer data can be more widely shared to help solve some of society’s greatest challenges.”

Unwin added: “Frank is a natural fit for Smart Data Foundry, bringing many years of global technology and financial services experience to the role, coupled with a passion for data-led innovation.  Frank’s experience will help develop the already strong multi-disciplinary skillset within the existing team.”

Smart Data Foundry, which works closely with founding partners FinTech Scotland and the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA), is working to “unlock the positive power of financial data to improve people’s lives”.

Gauld will replace the current interim chief executive, Kevin Collins, who has handled the startup phase of Smart Data Foundry.   

Collins said: “I’m delighted to welcome Frank, knowing that the organisation will flourish under his leadership and benefit enormously from his many years’ experience within the financial services sector.  

“The timing is perfect, following the publication in March of the FinTech Scotland 10-year Research and Innovation roadmap that sets out the agenda for change to deliver against the recommendations from the Kalifa Review.

“In its first 18-months, Smart Data Foundry has made tremendous progress against our ambition of unlocking the power of financial data as a force to improve people’s lives.  

“The agreements in place with NatWest Group, Sage Group, Equifax UK, FreeAgent, Nest Insight and Moneyhub are only the start of the journey to work with other organisations to build momentum and start a movement that supports our ambitious mission led approach to drive research and innovation for the benefit of consumers, communities, businesses, and individuals.“

Professor Jonathan Seckl, senior vice-principal of the University of Edinburgh, added: “Using real financial data for social good – and allowing governments, companies, and people to make better economic and financial decisions – is at the heart of Smart Data Foundry’s purpose.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming Frank to the team as we continue to make progress and challenge the status quo for sharing data to open finance for good.”