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NatWest opens four UK fintech hubs

NatWest has expanded its financial technology support programme at a time when entrepreneurs are more apprehensive than ever

NatWest Bank has announced four more financial technology (fintech) hubs to be opened in the UK as its research shows confidence among entrepreneurs in the UK is at its lowest point since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

The bank will open accelerator hubs in Bristol, Edinburgh, London and Manchester to support up to 80 fintech businesses, with technology and sales support from Dell EMC.

Fintechs will be given a mentor, will be able to pitch ideas to the bank and will be introduced to contacts at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Alison Rose, CEO commercial and private banking at NatWest, said: “We understand that helping businesses succeed, not just through traditional lending but with full wraparound care, connectivity and know-how, is crucial if we want a strong economy.”

It is not only the fintechs that benefit from the relationship, with NatWest gaining access to digital technology that has the potential to address financial services challenges. Last year, for example, working with fintech Ezbob, the bank launched a lending platform that promises loan approval times as fast as those offered by peer-to-peer lenders.

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Rose hopes to get NatWest staff to think like fintechs. “We also want our staff to develop entrepreneurial mindsets to help them think differently and to problem-solve in the same way business owners have to do on a daily basis,” she said.

NatWest also revealed the latest findings of its research into entrepreneurs. In the latest NatWest Entrepreneurship Monitor, as it is known, only 17% of people think now is a good time to start a business.

The report also found that the proportion of people wanting to start their own business has dropped from 39% to 14% over the past three years. The bank said Brexit had “contributed significantly to this drop”.

Reduced access to talent with the right skills, as well as finance, are concerns for startups in post-Brexit Britain, and the fintech sector has the added uncertainty over whether UK finance firms will have the right to trade across the EU.

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