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Focus on our near neighbour could have benefits for the Island

Business | Published:

By Tony Moretta, Digital Jersey CEO

Tony Moretta, CEO of Digital Jersey. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (22218730)

A significant landmark in the growth of the UK's financial technology sector was reached last week. For the first time ever, the UK's fintech attracted more investment in the first half of this year than any other country, overtaking China and the US. A cool £12.3 billion was invested, according to figures from KPMG

If you think of fintech as an abstract concept or something still in the future, think again. This is happening here and now and it’s something Jersey is actively engaged in.

The levels of investment we’re seeing in the UK right now support the commitment of Digital Jersey to make fintech one of our main areas of focus, working closely with Jersey Finance. As an international finance centre we can play a major role in the fintech world, and we’re already seeing the fruits of our labour.

The JEP recently reported on the memorandum of understanding we signed with Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Their presence in Jersey is a bold sign of the confidence they have in the Island and its structures, both digital and physical.

And the economy will in turn see the benefit of that commitment as Binance create local jobs for both finance industry and technology industry professionals.

It’s helped send out the message that Jersey is just as much a fintech hotspot as other locations around the world. It’s a sign of confidence and one that’s being noticed far and wide.

That follows on from the launch of the Jersey-based Softbank Vision Fund, a $93 billion investment fund with the bold ambition of being the world’s biggest investor in the technology industry over the next decade. That’s gaining attention around the world, too.

We must keep our foot on the pedal and shout about our powerful proposition.

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I mentioned our close working relationship with Jersey Finance, and that extends throughout the finance sector. We now have as members not only the tech companies, telcos, utilities, etc. but banks, law firms and accountancy firms. A focus on fintech not only helps the digital sector but strengthens, upskills and diversifies our finance industry and workforce. Combining the resources of our two high-productivity industries, along with our world class regulatory and digital infrastructure, creates a compelling package.

It all has the effect of making companies elsewhere sit up and pay attention to what Jersey offers as a location. When we talk to tech firms and mention Softbank and Binance they see the opportunity Jersey can provide. But it goes much further.

There’s our testbed proposition, Sandbox Jersey, where we pitch our island as the ideal place to test ideas, products and services. We’re already seeing interest following events to raise awareness in both London and Europe. Our physical and digital connectivity is an incredibly attractive proposition.

But we cannot afford even a second’s complacency.

The news of investment into the UK is heartening. The work we’re doing, so far, is positive. But we need to do even more as an Island to invest in start-ups locally. We need to find new ways to stimulate innovation in Jersey and grow our fintech businesses.

The opportunity is ripe. The time is right. And the whole team at Digital Jersey is ready to work with all those who, like us, want to see Jersey’s digital industry, and in this case our growing fintech sector, flourish.

Gwyn Garfield-Bennett

By Gwyn Garfield-Bennett
Business Editor

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