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Delivering on the Fintech Pledge

12 February 2021

Signing the Fintech Pledge has formalised Barclays’ commitment to backing the innovative thinkers who are changing financial services for the better. Janhavi Rao, Chief Technology Officer, and Andy Elphick, Director of Innovation Mindset and Intrapreneurship, share why supporting fintech firms is crucial for the bank.

There are more than 1,600 fintech firms in the UK, employing 76,500 people. These companies are disrupting traditional ways of banking with new innovations – and the sector is growing fast. According to the UK Fintech State of the Nation report, it is expected that the number of fintechs could more than double by 2030.

The importance of working closely with financial services startups has long been a focus at Barclays, says Janhavi Rao, the bank’s Chief Technology Officer. “We have been engaging and working with fintechs for many years to address challenges that as a bank we want to fix, both through our Rise network and the Chief Technology Office,” she explains. “Through various programmes and initiatives, we’ve identified startups that we’ve both invested in and formed strategic partnerships with. This has been incredibly beneficial for us as an organisation and for the companies’ growth.”

Collaborations with fintechs like digital receipt company Flux, and financial solutions and invoice firm MarketFinance have not only helped these companies to scale up, but have also brought new technologies and services into Barclays.

“Working with fintechs allows us to bring fresh ideas into our organisation,” says Rao. “This complements our own focus on developing and investing in technology that can help improve our offering – but also addresses some of the issues the wider industry faces. We appreciate that we don’t have all of the answers, and fintech startups can offer new perspectives and solutions to solve existing and future challenges.”

Implementing the pledge

Signing the Fintech Pledge – an initiative from the UK government and entrepreneurs’ network Tech Nation – is an important step for Barclays’ growing fintech ecosystem.

Our aim is to find the best fintechs, wherever they are in the world, and to ensure we bring diversity of thought into our organisation.

Andy Elphick

Director of Innovation Mindset and Intrapreneurship at Barclays

Andy Elphick, Director of Innovation Mindset and Intrapreneurship at Barclays.

Andy Elphick says that adopting the principles of the pledge will help provide clarity to fintechs.

A world first, the voluntary pledge sets out to create leading standards for partnerships between banks and fintech firms. Signatories must stick to five key principles to help these companies navigate their relationships with banks – including providing guidance on the onboarding process.

“We recognise that banks can be hard organisations to navigate,” says Andy Elphick, Director of Innovation Mindset and Intrapreneurship at Barclays. “We believe that by adopting the principles of the pledge, we can provide clarity to those fintechs on how to work best with us and engage with the right team to support their onboarding journey.”

Group Chief Operating Officer, Mark Ashton-Rigby, signed the pledge on behalf of Barclays in September 2020 – but the bank’s involvement dates back several years. “We were motivated to help start this journey, rather than just motivated to join it,” says Elphick. “We were an active member of the working group that produced the fintech onboarding guidelines, which went live in 2018, and then took that further by actively engaging in the development of the pledge. It's been really important to us and we've wanted to take part through the whole process.”

And while the pledge focuses on fintechs across the UK, Barclays has committed to apply its principles to all early stage fintech startups, regardless of their location. “Our aim is to find the best fintechs, wherever they are in the world, and to ensure we bring diversity of thought into our organisation,” says Elphick.

“The pledge is an extension of the relationships we already had in place with fintechs, to ensure that financial institutions are encouraging good practice and process improvement,” Rao adds. “And we will continue to look at opportunities where the fintech ecosystem can bring innovation to the bank, from technology that can support automation and collaboration, through to new customer solutions.”