In the loop: Philip Hammond’s fintech strategy, Uber’s autonomous car causes fatality and Church of England goes contactless

From Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and Peter Thiel provoking European tech entrepreneurs to a sprinkle of fintech and a self-driving car tragedy, these last seven days have shaken startups and tech aficionados alike

In the loop: Philip Hammond's fintech strategy

Government unveils new fintech strategy

If you tell entrepreneurs that London is a global fintech leader, then don’t be surprised if they reply with a slightly condescending “duh.” After all, the British capital has enjoyed a successful marriage of financial services and innovation for years. And it seems as if the sector just received additional reasons to feel even more bullish.

Speaking at the International FinTech Conference on Thursday May 22, Philip Hammond unveiled the government’s new strategy to strengthen the country’s fintech sector in preparation for Brexit. The measures include moves towards automating regulatory compliance and new industry standards to enable smoother partnerships between startups and traditional financial-service providers. Moreover, the chancellor also revealed a new ”fintech bridge” to Australia to make expansions across markets easier. Similar links are already in place with Singapore, China, Korea, and Hong Kong.

We don’t know about you but we think the fintech future just got a little brighter.

Uber’s self-driving car kills pedestrian

A key argument for driverless cars is that they’d be safer than ones with a human behind the wheel. However, this week saw the autonomous-vehicle industry recoil in horror as one of Uber’s self-driving cars tragically crashed into a woman, resulting in the first recorded death of a pedestrian caused by an autonomous vehicle.

The accident occurred on Sunday night in Tempe, Arizona. A video released by Uber shows the woman suddenly cross the road without the SUV – which was in autonomous mode – nor the test driver slowing down. Following the tragedy, Uber suspended all testing of its driverless cars and several experts expressed concerns about the company’s LiDAR technology, which is supposed to detect pedestrians and avoid accidents like these.

How the nascent industry reacts to the tragedy will certainly cause ripples over the foreseeable future.

Church of England will start to use contactless

Just so you know, physical money is so yesterday’s news. No matter what researcher you ask, they all seem to agree that we’re quickly moving towards a cashless society. And if you’re searching for proof, look no further than the Church of England.

This week the church announced that it will make contactless, virtual terminal and mobile payments available throughout England across 16,000 churches and religious sites. That way it hopes to reduce the hassle of the church’s congregations to pay for everything from events like weddings and christening to one-off donations and bookings.

With this latest move it certainly seems as if piggy-bank producers may have reason to start sweating.

Online retail picked up momentum in February

While the Beast From the East may have caused chaos for commuters, the chill actually turned up the heat for the UK’s online retailers.

Having looked at data from February, new research from Interactive Media in Retail Group and Capgemini, the digital consultancy, reveals that online retailers saw a jump by 13.1% compared to the same month in 2017. This means the overall year-on-year growth to date averaged at 13.5%. Given the freezing temperatures, clothing sales unsurprisingly grew by 14.9%. Additionally, accessories and footwear sales increased too by 22.3% and 20.4% respectively.

So in conclusion: cold means cash in the online clothing industry.

Entrepreneurs left unimpressed by Mark Zuckerberg’s Cambridge Analytica comments

It’s not been a great week for Mark Zuckerberg. In the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandal, the social-media platform’s CEO and founder kept mum for days before almost begrudgingly addressing the news that millions of users’ privacy had been compromised. However, far from everyone were impressed by his response, which we found out this week.

Peter Thiel’s claims “there are no successful tech companies in Europe”

Peter Thiel may be one of the biggest hot-shots in Silicon Valley but that didn’t stop Europe’s tech community from calling him out when he suggested that there were no great tech startups on the continent. For instance, they were disappointed that the Paypal founder and early Facebook investor seemed to have forgotten about startup-success stories like Spotify and Skype.

Regulation compliance concerns has become small-business leaders’ biggest problem

Money issues are usually seen as SMEs’ biggest problems. However, over the past few years complying to new regulations have become a major concern for Blighty’s small-business leaders, according to new research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance, the financial-services firm. And this week the researchers showed that the problem is in no small part thanks to the Brexit referendum and the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation.

Eight Roads to invest $375m in European tech startups

From Improbable to Spotify, Europe’s tech ecosystem has already produced several impressive scaleups. Now, thanks to Eight Roads Ventures, the VC fund, this number is sure to increase even more. The investors announced a new $375m fund this week and plans to invest it in enterprises in the consumer, fintech and healthcare sectors. More scaleups are a-coming. Take that Peter Thiel.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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