NatWest Group was delighted to host the UK Fintech Symposium at Royal Bank of Scotland’s home in Edinburgh for the second year running.

Bringing together such an eclectic and exciting mix of fintech experts, regulators, academics and financial services operators for an event does not happen often, and it was a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on the collaborative and integrated ecosystem across UK.

Growth within the Scottish fintech sector has continued, with £107 million being invested in 2023, and there are 227 fintech companies in Scotland spanning data, cloud analytics and personal, wealth and business solutions.

NatWest Group is a leading supporter of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) across the UK, and is the largest bank for business in the UK. It has 13 dedicated accelerators for early-stage entrepreneurs across the country supporting more than 1,000 businesses per cohort, two of which are run in Scotland under the Royal Bank brand.

Businesses on the programme receive dedicated support, mentoring and networking in a physical location, free of charge. Many of the businesses supported through the programme in the last decade are fintechs, and we are committed to continuing to support fintechs at every level to help fuel domestic growth of this critical sector.

Chief executive Paul Thwaite says: “The UK’s fintech sector is the envy of Europe, housing more than 3,000 companies and a financial ecosystem second only to the US. This represents the importance of the whole industry collaborating to support fintech growth to break down barriers to growth and enterprise.”

On a regional level, Royal Bank, which alongside NatWest is part of the NatWest Group, is excited to have worked with several members of the FinTech Scotland ecosystem to discover talented companies that support the mission to help customers thrive. Through collaboration with FinTech Scotland, Royal Bank has started working with Snugg as part of its home energy hub launch. The hub allows UK homeowners to understand the energy efficiency of their homes and the steps required through trusted partners such as Snugg.

We have also worked with InBest, an Edinburgh start-up, and together we have supported our customers through the cost-of-living crisis. We tested the InBest calculator on our Royal Bank and NatWest webpages, enabling 82 per cent of users access to an average monthly entitlement of £664. To date, the calculator is surfacing more than £4.2 million in average monthly benefits for our customers. This is a critical avenue of support for many, boosting the average income by 39 per cent for those who are not already claiming benefits.

Following key recommendations from the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, we also collaborated with fellow banks in support of the FinTech Growth Fund, which focuses on supporting growth-stage fintechs as they scale.

The fund will look to undertake, on average, four to eight investments a year, with funding between £10 million and £100 million for UK fintech firms, ranging from Series B to pre-IPO stage.

As we end the year, it is a time of reflection and looking ahead at our plans for the new year. In my role at NatWest Group as the director of innovation and partnerships, my team and I will enter 2024 continuing to help the bank drive better customer and commercial outcomes by interpreting and processing the myriad opportunities that disruptive new technology presents, as well as considering the threats. Practically, this means working with our partners to explore and experiment on strategically aligned opportunities while driving a bank-wide culture of innovation.