London to take San Francisco's fintech unicorn crown

Report finds that, with nine of the world's 29 fintech unicorns, the Bay Area is the global leader of the fintech revolution – but the UK's capital city is set to take over as early as this year


San Francisco is home to the most fintech unicorns – companies valued at $1bn or over – with nine of the 29 fintech unicorns globally based in the Bay Area, while London has come a close second with seven housed in the UK's capital city, data from recruitment consultancy Robert Walters and market analysis firm Vacancy Soft has revealed.

However, the report has predicted that London could take the lead as early as this year, as the city receives 39% of European fintech venture capital funding, with the runner-up, Berlin, taking just 21% of the total investment.

With 50% against a global average of 33%, the UK also enjoys the highest rate of consumer fintech adoption of any Western country, only beaten by India and China, the report found.

The income growth of the UK's fintech unicorns over the past 12 months was unparalleled, growing from a combined £77.1m ($100.8m) to £177.6m ($232.1m) revenue. Meanwhile, e-money firms grew by 51% between 2017–18, thanks to significant growth in firms like Monzo and TransferWise. The report has predicted that by 2020, half of all payment service providers in the UK would be digital-only.

The growth led to a 61% increase in London job creation in the sector in 2018 – and 18% in regions outside of the capital – as FinTech became the fastest growing sector in the UK economy.

Ahsan Iqbal, director of technology at Robert Walters, remarked: "IT continues to dominate the hiring agenda for fintechs, with just under third of roles within the sector dedicated to tech – in 2018, we saw IT vacancies within the space increase by 74% when compared with 2017.

"The increase in demand for IT talent – coupled with Brexit-related concerns – poses the risk of stifling the talent pool, as a result, we are already starting to see salary inflations for IT professionals of around 6-8% – and some pretty impressive buy-back and counter offers," he added. 

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