Fintech boom could create thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland

14 Sep 2021

From left: Andrew Jenkins of FinTechNI, Karen Bradbury of Invest NI, Roisin Finnegan of Deloitte, and Alex Lee of FinTechNI. Image: FinTechNI

A Deloitte report commissioned by FinTechNI has set a roadmap for Northern Ireland’s £392m fintech sector to make it an international hub.

Northern Ireland could be heading for a fintech boom with more than £25m in foreign direct investment, more than 20 new companies and thousands of jobs created over the next three years, according to a new Deloitte report.

Commissioned by Northern Ireland’s representative body for the sector, FinTechNI, the report set out a roadmap for the region. Earlier this year, Northern Ireland was identified as a key fintech hub by the UK Treasury.

The report estimated Northern Ireland’s fintech sector to be worth £392m per year to local economy and said that the region could be home to 100 fintech firms by 2024.

“Northern Ireland is regarded as a world leader in the fintech sector and often ranks highly in lists of the best places in the world to locate fintech companies,” said Alex Lee, chair of FinTechNI.

“We have shown time and again that we can attract foreign direct investment, have a strong talent pool and the right attitude towards the nurturing of fintech companies.”

The report found that Northern Ireland’s unique geographical position, workforce talent, high-quality education sector, and expertise in the cybersecurity, AI, data analytics and regtech sectors all contribute to its success as a fintech hub.

However, it warned that in order to remain globally competitive, Northern Ireland must continue to work on its strengths and challenge barriers to growth.

Some of the report’s suggestions to boost the local fintech sector include increasing support for fintech SMEs to connect with investment sources, encouraging younger people to take up employment in the sector, developing funding networks for young fintechs to scale up, and attracting international investment.

“The potential to create thousands of jobs, attract tens of millions of pounds in foreign direct investment and to assist companies to set up, or scale up, in Northern Ireland is right in front of us and we should not limit our ambition for a sector that has shown such resilience and growth in difficult times,” Lee said.

Suzanne Wylie, chief executive of Belfast City Council, added that the report comes at a time when Northern Ireland is emerging from the pandemic and its economy needs a boost.

“In the last 18 months, the world became hugely reliant on financial technology and the sector showed that it was resilient and able to meet that challenge,” she said. “For Northern Ireland to already be earmarked as an outlier in this industry and one of the most advantageous places to set up and develop a fintech company is a significant accolade.”

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic