In the wake of WeWork’s IPO prospectus, the qualities that separate a tech company from a regular company have become maddeningly blurry, if you discount tech’s propensity to make giant losses early on. Technology is nothing new in finance, where security, speed, and reliability have spurred necessary advances. But the disruptors of this particular sector are here, free of physical infrastructure and legacy systems, and they are termed fintechs, though some more sober observers have favoured ‘challenger bank’, hinting at the traditionally high barrier to entry for new companies in finance.
Those barriers only solidified following the deregulatory sweep of the 1980s, when large financial institutions were allowed to become even larger, especially in the City of London. Despite this, several of the largest and fastest-growing fintechs call London home, and as they grow they’re slinking south from the Shoreditch startup scene and into the City itself, where the big boys do business. In this liminal district, Unbound (London, July 2019) heard a host of speakers from the sector explore the topic.