UK’s soaring position in the fintech world witnessed a slight decline as China raced ahead as last year’s rising leader, with four more of its firms reaching a billion-dollar valuation.

A new report by European tech investment bank GP Bullhound says that owing to Ve Interactive almost going under last month,  the number of billion-dollar valued firms in Britain was pushed from five to four.

The year ended with Britain’s four billion-dollar FinTech firms giving a combined total value of $18.5bn (£14.43bn), according to the report.

As brilliant as that number is, China soared ahead with its billion-dollar FinTech firms ending the year with a combined value of $112.3bn (£87.58bn) – making it more than double that of the second-placed United States, standing at $52.6bn (£41.02bn). The report cites the number of billion-dollar FinTech firms in China now having increased to 13. The United States, although maintaining its position in second place, witnessed no increase.

Around the world, there now exist 39 FinTech companies valued at $1bn or more, with global investment in the sector from venture capital firms having risen almost fivefold in the last three years, reaching $13.6bn (£10.61bn) in 2016.

 According to Carl Wessberg, director at GP Bullhound, FinTech has now become “embedded in the foundations of the financial services sector”.

Claudio Alvarez, also holding the position of director, said the report “shows that FinTech has consolidated its position as an influential force in the global financial services industry”.

Post-Brexit: fighting back

The report came just in time to back up claims made by a group of UK FinTech firms that they are poised to turn the risks posed by Britain’s exit from the European Union into “billion-dollar opportunities”.

The report, produced by London-based FinTech accelerator Level39, says that cybersecurity and data science require urgent investment if UK FinTech is to counter the Brexit effect.

About 30% of the group’s members believe cybersecurity requires the most urgent investment, with 28% voting for data science.

Giving out an awry reaction to Britain’s Brexit vote last year, the UK’s FinTech sector received a welcome boost earlier this month with UK Chancellor Philip Hammond promoting the sector on a two-day trade visit to India, reported on earlier.

The visit was undertaken by several heads of UK FinTech startups, including Kristo Kaarman, co-founder of international currency exchange service TransferWise, and Husayn Kassai, co-founder of identity-checker Onfido.

This news also follows from Hammond’s speech last week, where he said that Britain’s FinTech sector must “strive and graft and fight to seize opportunities” if it wants to maintain its position after Brexit, turning its focus primarily on the Asian market.

Hammond’s speech followed from money transfer company Transferwise saying that it would relocate its European HQ from London to the continent by March next year.

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