London has throughout modern history been a leading global financial services centre and at the forefront of innovation. It was in Great Britain that the modern era of the gold standard began in 1717 with Isaac Newton as Master of the Royal Mint. Britain’s banking system has pioneered many of the now ubiquitous world leading innovations in payments technologies including CHAPs, BACs and Fastpayments. Today, London remains a thriving hub of innovation with entrepreneurs choosing London to start or base their businesses here as a result of our fair and predictable legal and regulatory regime, low and predictable taxes, pool of talent, time zone, language and digital infrastructure.
In financial services in particular, there is a tectonic shift going on as the digital era creates new opportunities for established businesses to reinvent themselves spurred by entrepreneurs inventing digital business models to disrupt the status quo. I can’t remember a time when London has been buzzing with so much entrepreneurial activity and a day doesn’t go by without someone raising a new FinTech idea with me. To me, FinTech means using the internet and constantly developing internet access devices, combined with their now pervasive penetration amongst consumers, to create more convenient and less expensive ways to undertake financial transactions and one company that embodies this is Blockchain.
I have learned more and more about Bitcoin as I have been approached by a number of Bitcoin related start-ups looking for investment and advice. Bitcoin strikes me as one of those developments you see infrequently that won’t just change one particular aspect of the way an existing service or product is delivered but has the potential to totally revolutionise world payments.
I am sure it is for this reason and because London is quite literally centre of the global currency exchange business that Her Majesty’s Treasury and UK regulators are focussed on understanding this potential revolution and the impact on consumers and institutions – so that London can once again embrace changes as they occur and encourage innovators to base themselves here whilst providing appropriate safeguards for consumers and investors.
Blockchain, as the bitcoin infrastructure company with the most market share and highest transaction volumes, supported as it is by a sound balance sheet and A list investors and led by a visionary management team, seemed a clear first among equals to me and I’m excited to continue to help support their mission.
Bob Wigley has a long and successful career in both the private and public sector. Bob was the former Chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe, Middle East and Africa, and served as an Ambassador for UK Business for the Prime Minister, David Cameron. Among other roles, he served as a member of the Court of the Bank of England. Currently, Bob is the Chairman of Tantalum Corporation plc, LLamabrook plc, NetOTC Saarl, Justinvesting Ltd, Stonehaven LLP and is an investor and entrepreneur. He is also a Fellow of both Oxford University Said’s Business School and Cambridge University’s Judge Business School Centre for Alternative Finance.