Fintech is a new phrase that we hear a lot recently. A combination of the words “finance” and “technology,” it refers to the industry where companies use technology to improve the efficiency of financial systems (http://www.whartonfintech.org/blog/what-is-fintech/). While the term itself is quite new, the concept isn’t. Finance has always benefited from advancements in technology, with developments like the printing press, credit cards and others allowing us to make transactions more safely and conveniently. The internet has also been a great driver of innovation in fintech, and with the development of new internet-based technologies and services such as crypto-currencies and crowd-funding, the finance industry is undergoing a surge of disruption, and fintech has become an area where there is great potential for investment.
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Participants of the panel discussion at the Tokyo Fintech Event, Oskar Miel of Rakuten is seated on the left

As you may have seen in the news, in October Mayor of London Boris Johnson came to Japan on a three-day trade mission. On the trip, he visited businesses around the country, and met senior politicians, business leaders and investors with the aim of fostering collaboration between the UK and Japan. As you can guess, being a delegation from London, one of the financial capitals of the world, fintech was a major theme for the mission, and on October 15, a media event was as held at the residence of the British Ambassador to Japan in Tokyo to discuss the topic.

 

Hosted by Tim Hitchens, the British Ambassador to Japan, the event brought together a number of distinguished speakers from various finance, business and technology-related fields to discuss the growing fintech industry and collaboration between the Japan and the UK.

 

The event opened with a speech from Derek White, Chief Design and Digital Officer of Barclays and Mayor of London’s tech ambassador, commenting about the importance of collaboration between startups and corporations and innovation, followed by a panel discussion on the fintech sectors in Japan and London moderated by Leo Lewis, the Financial Times Tokyo Correspondent. Speakers from both Japan and the UK, including investors and founders of fintech startups discussed the current startup environment in Japan, highlighting the need for a shift in mind-set from a focus on hardware, which Japan once led, to creating innovative companies that can succeed globally, and the importance of global thinking and English to do so.

 

Oskar Miel of Rakuten also participated in the panel, commenting about how the fintech industry is a great area for innovation, and that it is a field that we want to stay connected to as a company.

 

The final part of the event was a Q&A session with Boris Johnson and Eileen Burbidge, Partner, Passion Capital, and UK Government Fintech Envoy, by the Ambassador, where Boris Johnson highlighted the importance of disruption but stressed the need to create a level playing field for both the new disruptive technologies and the incumbent systems and services, citing the recent regulation of Uber in London as an example.

 

Fintech is a really divisive industry at the moment and we are guaranteed to see more disruption and change going forward. It’s quite exciting to think of what other innovations we will see coming out of it next!