The UK fintech sector is truly at the forefront of global innovation and development. That has been made clear this Fintech Week, as we’ve been truly inspired by UK founders, industry leaders and fintechs who are innovating on the global stage. The success of our fintech sector is also clear from the numbers. Last year, we saw $. billion of VC investment going into fintechs in this country – making the UK # in Europe and # globally, and also saw year-on-year investment into fintechs outside of London and the South East increase by %.

Our nation is now home to over fintech ‘unicorns’ companies valued at $bn+, with some of them being the most successful fintechs worldwide, such as Revolut, Monzo and Checkoutm. All of this drives capital and skill, strengthening the UK’s economy and society.

But with great power, comes great responsibility. And while the UK’s fintech sector has scaled rapidly through the pandemic, problems of financial exclusion have grown as well. According to the Financial Conduct ity, nearly in adults – around million people – were negatively financially impacted during the pandemic. And in – nearly million people, including the poor, the young and people from underprivileged backgrounds – saw their financial situation worsen a lot.

Addressing these problems must happen with some urgency. And the UK, as a financial powerhouse and hub of fintech innovation, is in the perfect position to lead the charge. Over the last few years, many steps have already been taken; with measures such as the independent Kalifa Review and the subsequent establishment of a Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology CFIT – one of the Kalifa Review’s recommendations – which will also work to reform the financial system to make it more accessible and inclusive.

We can’t stop there. There is much more that can be done to move this agenda along in , and I’ve seen firsthand the way that our country’s fast-scaling fintechs are driving financial inclusion in the UK. I’ve heard from a number of companies on our Fintech and Future Fifty growth programmes at Tech Nation that are working to educate customers – including younger people and those from underprivileged backgrounds – about their finances and savings, such as GoHenry, MyPocketSkill, Monese and Moneybox, and fintechs such as Liberis, whose mission is to end the SME funding gap via their embedded flexible finance solutions – and has so far helped over , SMEs with more than £m in funding. The internet can and does level the playing field in so many creative ways.

At the end of last year, when our Fintech Delivery Panel hosted the ‘Finclusion ’ campaign, we saw just how much can be achieved when the entire financial sector comes together to push the financial inclusion agenda forwards.

Throughout ‘Finclusion ’, fintechs, insurtechs, financial institutions and other key industry players hosted a series of discussions and webinars sharing ideas and initiatives for a more inclusive UK financial sector. We heard Monzo addressing the need to draw more on available data and tech to support individuals struggling with gambling to access voluntary gambling blocks; Fintrail shared that they were developing principles to help anti-financial crime workers understand the impact of regulations on those lacking access to finance; and Atom Bank – along with Newcastle University – considered creating a secure digital equivalent to the UK’s Blue Badge Scheme which allows special provisions to be made for those with disabilities, to help businesses understand which customers need greater support or are at risk online.

In , I hope we will see momentum build as more and more of these fintech ideas and developments become entrenched in the fabric of the UK financial sector. Just as we strive for constant fintech innovation, I see much strive for fairness and inclusivity in product design among the next generation of tech talent. Let’s continue building a sector that provides financial products and services which are innovative, useful and – above all – accessible to everyone.