The UK’s Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, this week celebrated a new private sector taskforce established to use financial technology, or ‘fintech’, to tackle some of the most complex environmental and social challenges the world faces today.
He said: “I am delighted to support the work of HRH The Prince of Wales, banking leaders of the Banking Environment Initiative and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership in driving forward the combined potential of fintech and green finance. Britain’s continued ability to innovate means we will remain at the forefront of global efforts to use technology to help overcome society’s challenges.”
The Minister’s response came after the announcement of the taskforce by the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI) – a leadership group of banks convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). The taskforce was initiated at an event hosted by CISL’s Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, which brought together BEI banks with multinational companies like Unilever, Sainsbury’s, DSM and Sappi to discuss how they can work together to ensure fintech innovations are put to maximal use to help address sustainability challenges in the real economy.
Alongside banks such as Barclays, BNY Mellon, Lloyds, RBS, Santander and Standard Chartered, a number of fintech entrepreneurs also joined the conversation.
The conclusion of the meeting was clear: not only is there unrealised potential for financial technology to catalyse solutions to society’s greatest challenges, but there is also plenty of room for pre-competitive collaboration between companies, financial institutions, entrepreneurs and others such as civil society on crosscutting issues such as standards. As a next step, the BEI has established a Fintech Taskforce.
The Taskforce will work for up to six months on two objectives. First, it will identify what type of collaborative action is most needed from a group of companies, financial institutions and entrepreneurs like this working together. Options include thought leadership research, more in-depth explorations around a small number of specific solutions, or even acting as an industry-level incubator for multiple propositions.
Second, the Taskforce will recommend how this collaborative action is best delivered. It will consider how to make use of CISL’s trusted relationships with sustainability leaders from the global business, government and financial communities and the University of Cambridge’s broader ecosystem of technology and entrepreneurship expertise. Given the crowded fintech landscape, it will also review whether the group is best working in co-operation with existing bodies or as a standalone entity.
Earlier the same day HRH The Prince of Wales attended an event at Barclays’ Eagle Lab in Notting Hill, London, where he met a number of entrepreneurs working to harness technology to tackle global sustainability challenges.