Well-known London seed investor Eileen Burbidge is now the UK Treasury’s “special envoy” for fintech.
Chancellor George Osborne announced her appointment on Friday as part of a raft of plans to try and improve the UK’s productivity.
Burbidge is a partner at Passion Capital, a London early-stage technology investment fund, and is well-known in London’s tech scene — she was dubbed the “Queen of British VCs” by Fortune.
Burbidge began her career in Silicon Valley, working for the likes of Apple and Yahoo, but came to London in 2004 as an early employee of Skype. She was awarded an MBE for services to business in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List earlier this year.
Her new role will involve promoting London’s booming fintech industry both nationally and internationally, and advising the Treasury on how best to support the sector.
She told Business Insider: “There are a lot of tech hubs that are trying to establish themselves globally in fintech. But I think London has the lead now.
“Members of the G20, when the Treasury has had conversations with their counterparts in other countries, in Asia or the Americas, it’s been explained to me that those other countries have come to us and asked how did you develop leadership in fintech? Other countries are coming to the UK and are trying to replicate our success.”
London is home to several fast growing fintech firms, including two already valued at $US1 billion (£660 billion) — TransferWise and Funding Circle. 20% of the companies Passion Capital has invested in are in fintech, according to Burbidge.
Burbidge’s appointment is part of George Osborne’s plans to improve productivity in the UK, which have been published days after the Summer Budget. While employment in the UK is at a record high, output per hour worked — a measure of the value of work people are doing — hasn’t risen in line with employment.
The Chancellor wants to encourage high-tech and high-value industries like fintech to try and address this problem. The Treasury is also creating a fintech benchmark to measure how the UK is doing compared to other nations.
Burbidge says: “They [the Treasury] think the financial services sector is a really big part of improving the nations productivity and that’s not such a leap if you look at history. We’ve already had such a big benefit coming from the financial services industry and it makes sense not just to recognise, but to also reinforce that.
“For me, the great thing is that they have recognised how much is going to come from the tech and digital. Finance is changing, as are so many other sectors. They want to increase competition in the banking sector, they want to support the tech sector to encourage more innovation and skill, [and] they want to make sure that regulation and taxation are in the right proportion.”