Landmark moment for UK fintech with the launch of CFIT

Focus is on maximising economic growth across all regions of the UK and ensuring better outcomes for fintech firms, SMEs and consumers.

28th February 2023

The Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT), backed by HM Treasury and the City of London Corporation, will launch today (28th February 2023) at Nexus, the University of Leeds, in a landmark moment for the UK’s growing financial innovation sector.

The establishment of CFIT is a direct response to the recommendations outlined in the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, a seminal review that identified the steps that the UK must take to maintain its position as a world leader in fintech innovation. The organisation will act as a central convening force, leveraging expertise from across the financial innovation space to set strategic priorities and drive growth in the sector.

As part of CFIT’s implementation of the recommendations within the review, the organisation will bring together time-limited ‘coalitions’ of experts from finance, technology, academia, and policy-making to identify and remove barriers to fintech sector growth, support the creation of high-income tech-based employment across the UK, and enable firms to achieve global scale. The work of the coalitions will be research-led and data-driven, with a focus on tangible outputs that will make a real difference to businesses and consumers across the UK.

At today’s launch, the organisation will make two initial announcements. Firstly, CFIT will announce the establishment of financial innovation hubs with a comprehensive reach across the UK’s regions, including Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, as well as major cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Bristol. These hubs will drive national connectivity, by enabling cross-sector experts with a local focus to input on barriers to growth and ensure solutions benefit the whole of the UK.

These hubs will support the work of existing regional clusters across the UK to advance fintech innovation, a move that reflects the impressive growth of the sector outside London – in 2021, regional fintech saw a 237% increase in investment from 2020[1].

The second announcement will outline CFIT’s plan to continue the sector’s work with leading universities to give students the opportunity to participate in placements at the UK’s leading companies operating in the financial innovation sector. The placements will act as a vital platform for nurturing and developing fresh talent in the fintech industry, creating a pipeline of skilled workers. As many as 67% of the UK’s fastest-growing fintech companies consider talent a high priority[2].

Former CEO of Innovate Finance and Chair of Open Banking, Charlotte Crosswell OBE, has been appointed as CFIT’s Chair. Ezechi Britton MBE, former CEO of Code Untapped and outgoing CTO of Impact X Capital, was recently announced as CFIT’s CEO.

Charlotte Crosswell OBE, Chair of CFIT, said:
“The launch of CFIT today represents a significant moment for the UK’s fintech sector and our economy more widely. This organisation will bring together personnel from across the financial innovation ecosystem to break down the barriers that the fintech sector is facing while creating a clear path for our homegrown fintech companies to achieve global scale, impact, and success. This, in turn, will deliver better financial outcomes for consumers and SMEs.”

“Today’s announcement marks an important first step in our work to support the growth and development of the UK fintech sector, by empowering its talented innovators and trailblazers in every corner of the country, and inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Ezechi Britton MBE, CEO-elect of CFIT, said:
“As a founder myself, I know that the UK is the best place to scale up for a fintech company. But we can’t rest on our laurels. Given the wealth of talent and innovative ideas in the sector, it is absolutely essential that we provide the right environment for our fintech sector to thrive and reach its full potential.

“In bringing together expertise from across government, industry, regulators, and academia, I am confident that we can work to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of innovation and growth in the fintech sector.”

Andrew Griffith MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said:
“The UK is a world-leading location for fintech growth and investment – it’s a real British success story and one that’s spread across the whole UK. Today’s launch of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology doubles down on this, boosting growth and investment in exciting cities for growth and innovation such as Leeds.”

Chris Hayward, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation, said:
“The UK’s fintech thriving sector stands testament to the expertise and talent in financial innovation that we have here in Britain. The launch of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) today will help maintain our dominant position globally. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with CFIT to further unleash the potential of this sector.”

For more information, please contact Charlie Allen, Teneo, at 07717 165 431.

Responses from industry and partners

Professor Karen Elliott, Chair of Practice in Finance/FinTech at the University of Birmingham Business School, said:
“The Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) and its coalition model represent a promising approach for tackling the complex and ‘wicked problems’ facing the financial innovation sector. By fostering collaboration between academia, industry and policymakers, CFIT will enable the type of real stakeholder involvement that UKFin+ Network offers by funding a range of collaborative projects until 2027.”

“We look forward to working with CFIT to leverage the most innovative thinkers and experts across policymaking, industry, and academia to drive success in our sector.”

Mark Mullen, CEO of Atom Bank, said:
“The UK has built an enviable reputation within the global Fintech community, however, the competition for talent and for investment is relentless. In this context, the CFIT is a very welcome product of the Kalifa Review.”

“It will provide a much-needed platform and a new resource for UK fintech innovators and disruptors. Atom will provide it with all the support we can and we wish Charlotte and Ezechi every success in the years ahead.”

Sir Ron Kalifa, Chairman of Network International and author of the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, said:
“I am thrilled to see the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) – one of the key recommendations of the 2021 Kalifa Review – launch in Leeds today.”

“The Centre will be instrumental in fostering collaboration between industry, academia and policymakers, promoting innovation, and turbo-charging the adoption of new technologies for businesses and consumers. I have no doubt that it will enable the UK’s fintech sector to become more competitive, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have across the UK in the weeks, months and years to come.”

Professor Iain Clacher, Head of the Centre for Financial Technology and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said:
“We are pleased to announce that CFIT and the University of Leeds will be partnering on a programme of placements and internships into Fintech businesses across the UK. Drawing on students from a wide range of subjects across the University, as well as students from diverse backgrounds, many of whom may not see financial services and fintech as a career open to them, we will be able to start to build the talent pipeline that is needed for the UK to be a global leader in innovation in finance.”

“We will also be working with the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment, a consortium of universities, led by the University of Oxford, with the universities of Bristol, Imperial, Leeds, and Reading, to support their climate internship programme to help build the critical mass of experts with the right skills to accelerate the adoption of best in-class climate science into institutional investment in the UK and globally.”

Henri Murrison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said:
“Leeds and the wider North of England is already home to a vibrant fintech sector, with over 100 fintech companies based in the Leeds City Region alone. The hubs announced today will allow firms in the North and beyond to harness the power of our local expertise built on long-standing financial services institutions here and world-class universities to ensure that this vital sector continues to thrive outside of London.”

“A thriving fintech sector in the North means more high-paid jobs and increased productivity. We look forward to supporting the objectives of the Centre for Finance, Technology and Innovation (CFIT) in the coming weeks and months.”

Anne Glover CBE, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Capital, said:
“I am delighted to see one of the key recommendations of the Kalifa Review come to fruition. The UK has a strong position in financial services, and an early lead in ‘fintech’ – but the speed of financial and technology innovation globally presents a demanding and competitive environment. Under Charlotte’s leadership, CFIT will bring together key stakeholders in both areas to drive the integration forward at a faster pace.”

Deb Hetherington, Head of Innovation Services, Bruntwood SciTech:
“We are thrilled to announce the exciting collaboration between CFIT and Bruntwood SciTech, as we join forces to drive growth and promote innovation in the fintech sector. This partnership brings together two powerhouses of innovation, combining the expertise of CFIT’s network of financial professionals and researchers with Bruntwood SciTech’s dynamic community and ecosystem of science and technology companies, from start-ups through to global-leading organizations.”

“With the shared objective of driving positive change in the industry, this partnership promises to deliver transformative solutions that will help shape the future of finance. We are confident that our joint efforts will generate a ripple effect of innovation, driving growth, and fostering the creation of new and exciting opportunities for businesses and consumers alike.”

Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, said:
“The creation of CFIT was a core recommendation of the Kalifa Review which, as co-secretariat, we at Innovate Finance are delighted to see materialize. As the industry body for UK FinTech, Innovate Finance is looking forward to working with CFIT and our partners across the UK through the coalition model to address and solve some of the key technical barriers to the continued growth of our world-leading FinTech sector, to the benefit of consumers and small businesses around the country.”

“We are also looking forward to supporting CFIT in its commitment to help develop a pipeline of world-class talent which will ensure the future success and positive impact of the industry.”

Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“Leeds City Region is a powerhouse of financial innovation, combining centuries-old heritage in banking and professional services with world-class talent and seven world-leading universities. With the launch of CFIT today, the stage is set for our region to continue its ascent as a fintech hub, driving growth and prosperity for businesses and consumers in Leeds and beyond.”

“There is so much potential to partner with CFIT as we look to work together with major institutions like the UK Infrastructure Bank, the Bank of England and the FCA to deliver on green finance, financial inclusion and emerging technologies and to ensure that the sector is one that people from all backgrounds want to be part of.”

Professor Markos Zachariadis, Chair of Financial Technology (FinTech) at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), the University of Manchester, said:
“The University of Manchester through the Alliance Manchester Business School and the newly launched Centre for Financial Technology Studies (CFTS) have been pursuing an ambitious research and teaching agenda in FinTech over the last few years. Our plan is twofold: to conduct rigorous, cutting-edge academic research that will make an impact on the financial services and FinTech industry, and to foster the next generation of talent by educating future finance practitioners, decision-makers, regulators, and policymakers through our programs of study.

“Our partnership and commitment with CFIT regarding student placements falls very well under the latter and will be extremely beneficial for our students in entering the FinTech industry and acquiring ‘real world’ knowledge. In this context, through our participation at the UK FinTech Academic Network (UKFAN), the UK’s research community on financial technology, we will facilitate the exchange of research and engagement between academia, CFIT, and the wider sector to promote innovation and productivity.”

Professor George Lodorfos, Dean of Leeds Business School at Leeds Beckett University, said:
“Leeds Beckett University operates at the heart of our city’s thriving fintech ecosystem. With a commitment to excellence in financial innovation, our collaboration with the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) will allow us to harness the full potential of our expertise to support industry growth, foster innovation and drive economic development. We look forward to working together to shape the future of fintech and enabling an even brighter future for the financial innovation industry in Leeds and the rest of the country.”

Hilary Smyth-Allen, Executive Lead, SuperTech (West Midlands), said:
“Birmingham and the wider West Midlands has long been a hotbed of fintech innovation, driven by our heritage in financial services, our world-class universities and the talented entrepreneurs and professionals that call the region home.”

“CFIT’s launch today presents an exciting opportunity for close collaboration at a regional level to tackle the industry’s biggest challenges and leverage our potential to contribute to the UK’s modern services revolution.”

Dr Chris Sier, Chairman, FinTech North, said:
“What we have seen over recent years is the continuous growth and development of the FinTech sector across the UK, including the evolution of numerous key regional hubs. Within these hubs, the public and private sectors and the universities all play critical roles, and it will be very exciting to see how CFIT can support the continued growth of FinTech across the UK.”

Chris Jessup, Chair, FinTech NI Association, said:
“The launch of CFIT marks an important milestone in the implementation of the recommendations from the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech (2021).

The creation of a CFIT hub in Northern Ireland recognizes the value and potential of our own fintech cluster, and with the creation of CFIT hubs in other UK regions, together we are well positioned to drive growth, foster innovation, and nurture talent through strong partnerships and collaboration.”

Nicola Anderson, CEO of FinTech Scotland, said:
“The CFIT launch is a key milestone in achieving the UK’s fintech ambitions, embracing innovation across all cities and regions. The Centre’s coalition approach very much aligns with the execution of FinTech Scotland’s cluster strategy in advancing fintech growth.

We are excited to be working with CFIT in leveraging the opportunities in Scotland and the whole of the UK, which will provide further momentum in delivering our ten-year FinTech Research and Innovation Roadmap enabling us all to harness the fintech opportunity across the UK.”

Professor Mark Durkin, Executive Dean, Ulster University Business School, said:
“Northern Ireland has a flourishing FinTech sector with Belfast currently the number one location in the world for investment in FinTech. Much of this success is rooted in dynamic partnerships between government, industry, and academia – with Ulster University playing an important role in fostering collaboration and adding value to the finance and technology sectors through its research leadership, innovation, and highly skilled graduate pipeline.

We are delighted to have CFIT’s regional hub in NI located at Ulster University. We are looking forward to connecting with sectoral partners within the regional and national ecosystems to combine efforts in supporting Northern Ireland to sustain its reputation as a center of excellence in FinTech.”

Tim Levene, CEO of Augmentum Fintech, said:
“The launch of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) today serves as yet another positive step for the UK’s burgeoning fintech sector, as the team sets out to bolster the support for progressive businesses transforming the financial services industry.”

“The UK has been paving the way for innovation within the financial services sector on a global scale for over a decade now and yet the opportunity ahead remains significant. We look forward to supporting Charlotte, Ezechi, and their team as they work to foster collaboration across the ecosystem, accelerate growth, and strengthen the UK’s competitive position.”

Sarah Williams-Gardener, CEO of Fintech Wales, said:
“Fintech Wales is looking forward to collaborating with Charlotte, Ez, and the team at CFiT to tackle the barriers that our members tell us are holding back innovation and growth for the UK fintech sector and industry disruptors. As the voice of the Welsh Fintech cluster, a not-for-profit members’ organization, we are looking forward to convening our regional experts and stakeholders to support the CFIT coalitions, working together with other regional contributors, bringing together the best and brightest minds, being additive and focusing on the wicked problems to drive growth and innovation.”

“We truly believe that diversity of thought and experience, and being comfortable pushing boundaries, will ensure the UK’s leadership position in fintech. We’re stronger together.”

James Varga, CEO of DirectID, said:
“I’m proud to be part of the UK’s thriving fintech sector and it is exciting to see the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT) launch today, an organization that I hope will help ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of financial innovation, driving positive impact for businesses, consumers, and the wider economy.”

“The fintech ecosystem is diverse and complex, and I expect that a central convening force like CFIT will really help the industry address existing challenges and secure a bright future for financial innovation in the UK and across the regions. I look forward to collaborating with CFIT and its partners in the months to come.”

Stuart Harrison, Director, FinTech West, said:
“We are delighted to welcome CFIT to the ever-evolving UK FinTech landscape, and we look forward to playing our part by championing the sector in the South West. We will continue to link with our colleagues in other regions, as well as aligning with national and international initiatives and bringing together the many component parts of the FinTech ecosystem across the public and private sectors, and higher education.”

Press release document and notes to editors

Landmark moment for UK fintech as the Centre for Finance Innovation and Technology (CFIT) launches powering up the UKs financial innovation sector


  1. A Record-Breaking Year For FinTech, Innovate Finance, FinTech Investment
    Landscape 2021
  2. Industry Survey – Innovate Finance
  3. KPMG “Size of the Prize” analysis, undertaken for the Kalifa Review (2021)
  4. FinTech Investment Landscape 2022, Innovate Finance
  5. Ibid
  6. KPMG analysis
  7. Kalifa Review (2021)
  8. Ibid