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Major funding award for Scotland fintech centre

World-first collaboration between University of Edinburgh, FDATA and Fintech Scotland receives grant from UK Government.

The new Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence, an independent collaboration between governments and regulators, the financial services industry and academia, has been awarded a £22.5m grant from UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund.

The Centre is a world-first which was devised and created by the University of Edinburgh, the Financial Data and Technology Association and Fintech Scotland, with the aim of using financial technology to deliver social and economic benefit to all corners of the globe.

UKRI’s investment will be used initially to create a global economic observatory, using real data to understand for the first time how consumers and businesses earn, spend and save across the world. This will deliver a research and policy offering to governments around the world as they try to emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Commenting, the University of Edinburgh’s Senior Vice-Principal, Professor Jonathan Seckl said:

“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 the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence.

“Never has there been a time of greater need for data-driven insights into the economy. The award from the Strength in Places Fund will allow us to make a unique contribution to the economic recovery from Covid-19. The Centre will be a world-first, providing leadership, coordination, research and capability to develop the benefits of Open Finance and to safely unlock the potential of customer data as a force to improve lives.”

The Financial Data and Technology Association’s Global Executive Chairman, Gavin Littlejohn, said:

“We have campaigned on behalf of customers and on behalf of the Fintech market for Open Finance and Open Banking for several years, and now across five continents. We envisage GOFCoE as a global utility and are creating the governance and funding frameworks to enable that. It will be supported by companies, governments and regulatory authorities, but maintain an important independence, neutrality and grip on ethics, without which it would not be trusted to function.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the grand Open Finance challenges GOFCoE will address simply can’t be solved by working alone, and that this capability is sorely needed by Governments, companies and citizens if we want better financial outcomes.

“This funding is a critical building block in a wider funding strategy to enable our ambitious plans of delivering a world-class facility to be realised.”

Stephen Ingledew, Chief Executive at FinTech Scotland, said:

“The funding of the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence reinforces the value of collaboration between the diverse range of entrepreneurial enterprises, academics, large institutions, government and citizen groups in embracing the role of data in driving financial innovation. With engagement across Scotland, UK and globally, the initiative will further reinforce the inclusive approach in developing the fintech cluster focused on delivering better consumer and citizen financial outcomes.”

Faith Reynolds, Independent Consumer Advocate, said:

“Covid-19 has reminded many of us of the value of community and working together for the common good. At the same time, technology has come to the fore connecting us with people and services, highlighting the importance of privacy, independence and the ethical use of data.

“GOFCoE’s establishment is an extremely timely initiative to develop ethics and trust frameworks for data sharing, improving security and privacy for individuals while realising the benefits of data for all society.

“The Money and Pensions Service UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing showed that pre-Covid 11.5m people had less than £100 in savings and 9m were borrowing to pay for essentials. Insights from the Global Economic Observatory will improve our understanding of how people spend, save and earn across the UK. Usually the preserve of large corporates and bigtech, the power of data will be available to everyone including charities and consumer organisations helping them to get help to the people and businesses who need it most, when they need it.”

The GOFCoE bid was developed by the University of Edinburgh’s Data-Driven Innovation initiative. In addition to the University of Edinburgh, GOFCoE will also work closely with the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, and Stirling, Napier University, Heriot-Watt University and other partners to deliver the suite of new services.

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