FINTECH AND THE “FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION”

22nd January 2016
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Fintech has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. Globally, new technologies are disrupting the incumbent financial systems by transforming the way individuals and institutions manage and invest their money.

From industry jargon to one of the key topics of discussion at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, fintech’s rise has been exponential. The technology’s transformative impact on financial services has been so significant, that it has been cited as a major catalyst in what economists are citing as a “fourth industrial revolution.”

In the first nine months of last year, the fintech industry attracted $554 million of venture capital funding compared with $487 million throughout the whole of 2014. As fintech now establishes itself as possibly the industry to watch in 2016, London has certainly cemented its position as the hub of this technological revolution. The capital’s standing as the centre of fintech has seen the sector benefit from 53% of all investment injected into Europe’s entire financial technology market.

These two statistics not only illustrate the fintech industry’s impressive rate of growth, particularly in London, but also the important role being played by alternative finance in facilitating this evolution. However, there is a potential barrier to fintech’s sharp upward trajectory: overregulation.

In the UK, the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) has been a vital initiative to encourage investment in SMEs by offering tax relief to investors. Since EIS was launched in 1994, nearly 22,900 companies have received investment through the scheme and as of July 2015, over £12.2 billion worth of funds had been raised. A number of legislative changes have been made to the EIS to ensure that private capital investment is directed into Britain’s high-growth industries, the most recent being the Finance Act 2015. Having received royal assent on 30 November 2015, the Act has made a number of changes to the EIS to ensure its compliance with new European Union regulations on State-aid money.

In order for alternative finance and consequently the high-growth industries it supports to flourish, industry leaders and prominent advocates of business growth have been lobbying for less regulation on the scheme. IW Capital’s CEO, Luke Davis, was featured in FTAdviser commenting on the dangers of overregulation for EIS. “I don’t understand why you would restrict EIS. It is still a good thing if you do a management buy-out or a management buy-in,” he said. Instead, Government measures should be introduced that allow the EIS to effectively and efficiently facilitate investment into SMEs. Failing this, the scheme risks becoming hindered by overregulation.

To read Luke’s comment in full, click here.

The draft clauses of the Finance Bill 2016 are currently proposing further amendments to tax-incentive schemes. Following a period of consultation, these clauses will be formally announced at this year’s Spring Budget in March. To understand how these changes will impact the EIS, IW Capital will be releasing a timely new report highlighting the recent and proposed legislative amendments to the EIS. The report will also contain important insights into how to best manage your tax planning strategy for the 2016/2017 tax year.

We look forward to updating you on our new EIS Monthly Report: Legislative Changes for 2016.