Each week, The Fintech Times takes a look at the top stories in British fintech. In today’s roundup, we look at how 30% of brits are better of financially now than a year ago, how Londoners love bitcoin and a new report that has found radical policy changes needed to significantly boost Scottish economic growth
Research finds 30% of Brits better off than a year ago
A Toluna survey has found that a third of Brits are better off than they were since the pandemic began – but those with more money are far more likely to be over 65.
30% feel like they have more money now than they did 12 months ago, with 27% of those surveyed said they have less money now, a year into the pandemic. 46% of those over 65 said that they have more money now than they did in March 2020 – compared to 27% of those aged between 18 and 65 years of age.
People who do have extra money are planning to use it wisely. 50% state that saving it ‘for a rainy day’ and 45% state that putting it directly into a savings account will be in the top 3 things they do with the additional money.
Michael Worledge, Financial Services Sector Head, Harris Interactive, said: “There is a clear divide between those that have experienced financial benefits as a result of the pandemic and those that have not, and it is those of working age that are more likely to be the financial losers. It is positive for the industry that people plan to increase the amount held in savings and we should expect strong demand for attractive savings and investment propositions, even in this low-interest-rate environment.”
Lack of employer pension contributions costing Self-employed £4billion a year
There are around 4.3 million self-employed people in the UK missing out on an estimated £4 billion in employer pension contributions a year, according to an analysis by interactive investor.
An estimated four in five self-employed people are not putting any money in a pension at all, with roughly 3.5 million people not making their own pension contributions. As well as not getting employer contributions, they are also missing out on tax relief, estimated to be around £1billion per year, which they could receive if they set up their own pension.
Becky O’Connor, Head of Pensions and Savings at interactive investor, said: “Pensions are likely to be the furthest thing from someone’s mind if they choose to go it alone. Especially during the pandemic, some hard-hit self-employed people have had more immediate and urgent things to deal with. But the amounts self-employed people could be missing out on in pension contributions through no longer being employed and receiving employer contributions are staggering.
“Self-employed workers are at a disadvantage when it comes to building up adequate retirement savings because they tend to earn less, but also because they don’t have an employer to set up a pension for them or pay in employer contributions. But self-employed people can take action for themselves. It is important they are not tempted to cut the pension corner when they choose to go it alone – or else they may struggle for income when they get older.”
Londoners love Bitcoin as Scots are more crypto-curious
Londoners are huge cryptocurrency fans, having bought more of the digital asset than any other region in the UK according to a new national survey commissioned by money app Ziglu, while cautious Scots have bought the least.
The survey found that three in ten Londoners (30 per cent) had already bought cryptocurrency, yet only 7 per cent of Scottish people had invested in it, followed closely by the south-east (8 per cent) and Wales (9 per cent).
Despite having bought the least crypto, Scots who had not bought any were the most curious about doing so (38 per cent), followed by Londoners (35 per cent) and Northern Irish people (35 per cent). But more than half of those living in East Anglia (56 per cent), Wales (54 per cent) and the South East (52 per cent) declared that they would never buy cryptocurrency.
Mark Hipperson, Founder and CEO of Ziglu, said: “When Elon Musk’s company Tesla bought $1.5 billion of Bitcoin, it was yet another step towards mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrency. Now that we’re firmly on that track, this survey shows how important it is to spread the word beyond London and across the whole of the United Kingdom about how easy and safe it is to buy crypto.”
Zumo aims to blaze a new crypto trail with female staff and consumers
UK based crypto wallet app Zumo aims to revolutionise the tech landscape of the nation, both with its staff and its customers. Women make up a key customer segment for Zumo, representing 36% of their customer base.
“The fintech gender gap is most stark at the top – recent studies have demonstrated that women represent just 14% of FinTech board seats. At Zumo, women represent over 40% of our team and the same in our management team. Moreover, reports often place crypto owners as being less than 10% female… For Zumo, this isn’t a future we believe in.” – Dagmara Aldridge, COO – Zumo
Following a national survey carried out by the brand in Q1 2021, there were clear learnings as to why women underrepresented within the space. 56% of females said the reason they have never purchased crypto was because they feel they don’t know enough about it while only 49% of men felt the same.
Discussing why women seem feel less comfortable with the sector than men, CMO of Zumo, Amelie Arras said “Our approach to marketing crypto has to change – not to make it more “female-friendly” but to make it more accessible for all. Working from the baseline that there isn’t an intellect issue, then the lack of understanding for women is rotted in something deeper… This comes down to everything from the language we use, the pictures we create, and ultimately the content we put out into the wider world. That change happens from within, and it’s impossible to influence this without ensuring diversity exists at all levels of your business internally.”
Report finds radical policy changes needed to significantly boost Scottish economic growth
Radical and ambitious policy changes are required if Scotland’s economic performance is to be transformed and significantly boosted within the next 15 years, according to a report published today by Oxford Economics, commissioned by The Hunter Foundation.
The aim of the report was to address such issues as low productivity, poor business birth rate and lack of success with scale-ups that help to explain why Scotland’s GDP per head is a mere 44% of Singapore’s level, 48% of Ireland’s, 68% of Norway’s and 75% of Denmark’s.
The report recommends an ambitious industrial policy, possibly centred around Scotland’s renewables industry, tapping into its rich tidal, wave and wind resources. This would capitalise on the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference scheduled for Glasgow in November and would support the Scottish government’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions.
Sir Tom Hunter of The Hunter Foundation says: “It is for everyone in Scotland, from governments, policymakers and businesses to help solve the problem of poor economic growth that Scotland has faced for too many years. I fully agree with the findings of this far-reaching new report that radical economic policies are needed if Scotland’s economy is to be transformed.
“I hope the calls made in the report for more, and different, economic stimulation from governments, tax cuts and deregulation, and appropriate and targeted state interventions, for example in renewables, will be listened to and acted upon.
“I’m calling on governments, politicians of all parties, industry and interested parties to work together to pave the way for transformational measures that will give the Scottish economy the significant boost it needs.
“Let’s use Covid-19 to reinvent what our future looks like.”