Andrei Kirilenko

Dear WFE Delegates,

Exchanges are distributed computer systems that run on data and data has become the new natural resource. Data is being mined like coal, refined like crude oil, stored in high security vaults like gold, and sold like rolled steel. Unlike non-renewable natural resources though, data is being generated on an explosive scale. By some estimates, human society has generated 90 percent of its data in the last 2 years. Some of this data is very plentiful and essential, yet given away for free like water and some of it is very rare and valuable, but hidden like diamonds. What is clear though is that the age of discovery of this new natural resource has arrived and technology innovators are on the forefront of it.

Imperial is uniquely positioned to as a place where finance meets technology. For one thing, it is located in London; and London has been a place where money meets risk takers for centuries to come. For another, Imperial is a technology school. Not a law school or liberal arts school, but a hardcore sand box for the geeks, who are in great demand right now. And last, but not least many of Imperial’s graduates have ended up in the City of London – the global financial centre.

To connect practitioners, academics and regulators working on finance and technology, we have a created a Centre for Global Finance and Technology at the Imperial College Business School. The centre is supporting top quality research on blockchain and digital payments, automated markets and high frequency trading, clearing, and other tech areas critical to modern finance. The research will then feed into new courses and education programmes at the Business School that can help foster a new generation of fintech experts and re-educate existing talent in new fintech ways.

Now, since we will be meeting here in London, I need to say something about Brexit and its impact on fintech. I believe that post-Brexit, London will continue to be a magnet for the global fintech industry. Here in London, the government, global financial institutions, technology schools and fintech entrepreneurs are at most a few tube stops away from each other. This is a big plus. Another big plus is that the UK financial regulators, the FCA and the Bank of England are also way ahead of others in supporting fintech innovation.

One serious contender for the world’s top fintech hub is Singapore. It has the one-stop-shop advantages of London, a government-backed strategy to promote fintech, and access to the vast wealth of China. But, it does not have the diversity and appeal of London. So, I believe that in spite of Brexit, London will remain the fintech capital of the world. Or, a bipolar fintech world will develop with one pole in London and the other in Singapore.

Meanwhile, we at the Imperial Business School will do our part to make sure that London remains in the lead by doing more on fintech research, public outreach, and education. Through our Imperial Innovations, we help turn innovative research into commercial success. Through our Imperial Business Partners, we are connecting a network of fintech entrepreneurs with our brilliant scientists. Through the fintech centre that helped organize this conference, we are fostering a global exchange of ideas among top quality academics, industry practitioners and regulators. We will hear from them at this conference.

Look forward to seeing you in London.

Andrei Kirilenko