Greater Manchester: leading the charge for the future of fintechs

Professor Markos Zachariadis is a faculty member at Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester, where he holds the Greensill Chair in Financial Technology (fintech) and Information Systems. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Financial and Monetary Systems, as well as a Fintech Research Fellow at Cambridge University (CDI).

Here, Markos explores how fintech industry is developing, the role Greater Manchester can play in driving its growth, and the opportunities to join Alliance Manchester Business School’s team of fintech experts:

Financial technology has come a long way in recent years, from a niche sector to a matter of strategic importance that will influence the future of many financial institutions and the wider finance industry as a whole.

The fintech revolution began in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and the impact of the current pandemic on the global economy will create similar opportunities for new businesses to emerge and will likely accelerate digital transformation. With COVID-19 bringing the global economy to a standstill, the future of fintech has come into even sharper focus. The current crisis is shaking up financial markets and reinforces the notion that we need more developed and further-reaching digital financial services to aid recovery. Fintech businesses are coming into their own and need greater investment in order to provide more inclusive, cheaper and faster services to all.

In an increasingly digitised world, digital financial services are the future

As more and more high-street bank branches shut up shop, customers will increasingly rely on digital solutions. Fintech is taking centre stage in society, benefitting customers who need access to better money management, credit and benefits, digital identity services and quick fund transfers through its advanced algorithms. It’s time to support the development of fintech businesses whose services can be a boon for customers’ financial wellbeing.

The UK is already a pioneer for fintech developments and digital excellence. Last year, the fintech sector raised $4.9billion investment, a significant jump from the $3.6billion raised the year before. This momentum is gathering and is expected to create around 30,000 more jobs and over 1,600 new businesses by 2030. While many fintech operations are London-centric, the North West is also establishing itself as a hub for the day-to-day operations and IT development for some of the country’s top financial technology firms.

Greater Manchester’s role as a fintech hub

Alliance Manchester Business SchoolAlliance Manchester Business School

Alliance Manchester Business School recently collaborated with Whitecap Consulting on a report into the sector, which found Greater Manchester is home to a burgeoning fintech market and has the largest regional fintech ecosystem in England outside of London. There are 109 firms active in fintech in the region, which includes established financial organisations, tech firms, as well as fintech start-ups and scaleups, according to the report.

The city is home to an 8,000-strong workforce in fintech related roles, as well as 80,000 technology professionals from wider sectors. This talent pipeline is boosted by the cluster of universities in the region, with advanced research capabilities feeding in. These findings place Greater Manchester firmly on the map as a fintech destination both now and in the future.

In recognition of this growth potential, the University of Manchester recently received a £2.5million donation by Greensill, a British fintech company founded by Alliance Manchester Business School alumnus Lex Greensill. The donation is set to significantly boost the region’s capacity and capability in financial technology and enable the University to drive the fintech agenda across the North West. There are also a number of other key academic posts and PhD scholarships that will become available over the next five years.

Being part of the city’s vibrant innovation and R&D cluster, we are aiming to establish Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester as a fintech research and teaching powerhouse internationally. As part of this, we’re on the hunt to add even more expertise to our talent pipeline.

To find out more, visit the Alliance MBS website.

Professor Markos Zachariadis

Professor Markos Zachariadis is a faculty member at Alliance Manchester Business SchoolProfessor Markos Zachariadis

Professor Markos Zachariadis holds the Greensill Chair of Financial Technology (FinTech) and is Full Professor of Information Systems at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Financial & Monetary Systems and a FinTech Research Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Digital Innovation (CDI), University of Cambridge. Professor Zachariadis’ research sits at the cross section of economics of digital innovation, financial technology studies, and network economics, and has studied extensively the economic impact of ICT adoption on bank performance, the diffusion of payment networks, and the role of data & standards in payment infrastructures (SWIFT), financial markets (LEI), and digital banking (Open Banking), among other things. His research has been published in top academic journals such as MIS Quarterly and Research Policy and has been awarded the NET Institute Award (NYU Stern Business School) for his study on the economics of payment networks, and the SWIFT Institute, SMS, and GRI Awards for his research on Open APIs and Digital Transformation in Banking. He is also co-author of The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT): Cooperative governance for network innovation, standards, and community (London: Routledge 2014), and co-editor of The PAYTECH Book published by Wiley (2020).

Prof. Zachariadis is a board advisor, mentor, and international keynote speaker and has been invited from various global organizations to present his research insights, give talks at international events, and judge at international competitions (Bank of England, UK Parliament, World Bank, SIBOS, Money2020, GRI Summit, Microsoft, Bank of Canada/Payments Canada, SWIFT, Innovate Finance Global Summit, Central Bank of Seychelles, Open Banking World Congress, FINTECH Connect, IBM, Financial Times, EY, APIdays, etc.). He was also the organizer of an international conference in London on PayTech innovation which was funded by Gates Foundation, MasterCard, and Capco. As a recognised expert, Markos often shares his work and perspectives with media outlets such as The Times, World Finance, Financial Times’ Banker Magazine, Bloomberg, Fortune Magazine, BBC, CNN, The Telegraph, Sky News, Wired Magazine, USA Today, ITV News, The Conversation, among many other.

Prior to joining AMBS, Prof. Zachariadis was Associate Professor in Management Information Systems & Digital Innovation at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick – where he also directed the Executive Education Diploma in Digital leadership – Visiting Professor in Financial Technologies (FinTech) at Ivey Business School, Western University, Research Associate at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, Visiting Scholar at London Business School, and Research Economist at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics. He studied economics at the University of Patras, Department of Economics and holds an MSc and PhD from the London School of Economics, Department of Management. Before turning to academia, Markos worked for multinational companies in the technology and financial services sector such as Hewlett Packard Inc. and UBS Investment Bank in Greece, Spain and the UK.

You can follow Markos on Twitter @MarkosZach and on Linkedin.