What we learned at London Fintech Week 2018

London Fintech Week 2018 brought together leading experts from around the world to discuss the opportunities, challenges and future for fintech.

We are proud to once again be a lead sponsor of the event.

Fintech is widely regarded as one of the fastest-moving investment markets in the world, growing by one third in the past year.

London Fintech Week highlighted the focus on London, among other hubs, as both a financial centre and start-up hub helping to drive the fintech revolution. The capital is home to 13 private start-ups valued at $1bn+ (‘unicorns’) – the largest concentration in Europe.

Post-crisis, financial institutions have collaborated with fintech start-ups to develop in-house innovation hubs. High start-up costs and competition, attracting talent and aligning objectives are just some of the challenges industry participants face.

Find out more about our solutions-driven Fintech advice or explore below the top things we heard, view our illustrations of the event content, watch our Future of Fintech video, or read our news and updates about Fintech around the world 

“Fintech Week highlighted the pace and scale of Fintech across the world – from the appetite for investors and established players to work with start-ups and disruptors, to the emerging ecosystem for blockchain and digital assets and structures. Here are the key themes we found interesting, and our thoughts on what the future of fintech looks like in the next 12 months.”

Image of Fionnghuala Griggs


     Finn Griggs, Global Co-Head, Fintech

Top things we heard about fintech

Blockchain and digital assets: market dynamics

  • Participants continue to see a key benefit of blockchain being disintermediation – sharing a database without a central administrator.
  • However, it is necessary to have a centralised organisation sitting above the decentralised technology to develop the technology and bring it to market
  • Others benefits of blockchain include: fast and free ownership transfers, complete record of activity, and lower transaction costs
  • VCs/investors appreciate the liquidity of cryptocurrencies, but still look for long-term investments
  • Certain jurisdictions – Bermuda, Gibraltar, Malta – are positioning themselves to take advantage of ICOs/blockchain. Gibraltar could have one of the world’s first regulated cryptocurrency exchanges in 2019
  • A recent assessment by the Bank of England found crypto-assets do not present a risk to financial stability
  • Industry challenges for cryptocurrency: data transfer, privacy and storage; and trust and transparency between consumers and providers

Blockchain and digital assets: regulation

  • Regulators and industry players are showing increasing willingness to collaborate and provide services with appropriate protections
  • Bank of England’s CryptoAssets Taskforce is working with HM Treasury and the FCA to determine if regulation is required
  • Regulators need tap into expertise from engineers, scientists and policymakers to develop a more holistic approach to creating rules around technologies
  • Greater regulation should lead to more stable markets as investments are dominated by funds and institutional investors rather than retail investors
  • Regulatory challenges include: keeping pace with exponential development of technology; working effectively with other regulatory jurisdictions; managing new markets; and determining which blockchain-related services/products need regulating

Blockchain and digital assets: the future

  • Rapid growth in blockchain is expected over the next few years, with fintech, supply chain and identity verification industries likely to lead the way
  • We also expect to see blockchain in combination with AI and the increased use of security tokens
  • Requirements for development include: regulatory certainty across jurisdictions; resolving scaling issues to make blockchain quicker and cheaper; using blockchain only where there is a real advantage; improving infrastructure between chains; and better engagement with users

Digital payments and platforms

  • Mobile payments are an important part of banking infrastructure. Start-ups are keen to access innovation in this area
  • Generational differences in using apps means it takes longer for new ideas and concepts to reach certain audiences 
  • Liberalisation of payments in China may present a key opportunity
  • Regulators, such as the FCA, are making headway in opening up global opportunities for payments
  • Institutions face strict regulatory requirements when working with start-ups: for example, providing start-ups access to data to meet KYC and AML requirements 
  • Cross-border collaboration agreements are helping to expedite certain applications, making it easier to provide services
  • Some believe regulators are not keeping pace with technological advancement and should be more forward-looking


  • TISA (a financial services membership association) believes spiraling regulatory costs and a backlog of regulation are key challenges for the finance industry in the UK
  • “Approximately £1.6 trillion of criminal proceeds are laundered globally each year,” says Nick Cook, Head of RegTech and Advanced Analytics, FCA
  • The FCA see themselves as a catalyst for regtech. Two significant projects include:
    • I. Regulatory Sandbox, launched in May 2016 to help innovative fintech businesses in the UK and develop compliant prototype products;
    • II. TechSprint consultation in November 2017 proving that industry compliance with FCA rules can be automated through machine-readable technology


5 key stats from London Fintech Week 2018

fintech week key facts

fintech week 2018 day 1 illustration
fintech week 2018 day 2 illustration
fintech week 2018 day 3 blockchain illustration

Illustration of Fintech Disruptors day at London Fintech Week 2018

Illustration of Capital Markets and Wealthtech day at London Fintech Week 2018

Illustration of Blockchain and Crypto-Finance day at London Fintech Week 2018

The Future of Fintech

What does the future of Fintech look like over the next 12 months?


What does the next 12 months look like for Fintech? In this video you will hear from nine of our lawyers on what's ahead across Tech M&A, Payments, Artificial Intelligence, Platforms, Regtech, Blockchain and Infrastructure, Cryptocurrencies and Data.



European Parliament calls for progressive regulation on blockchain technology

15th October 2018 //

EU Parliament suggests how to make the EU a leader in DLT – but which ones will be taken forward?


Google eases ban on crypto ads in US and Japan

11th October 2018 //

As regulation tries to keep up with fintech, industries reliant on advertising for revenue tread a fine line between convincing advertisers that their ecosystems are safe from regulatory penalties and capitalizing on new opportunities for profit.


UK e-money sector passes AML test

5th October 2018 //

According to the FCA, the UK’s e-money institutions have effective controls for tackling money laundering but there is still room for improvement.


Our US lawyers consider the latest round of enforcement and regulatory guidance on crypto assets

3rd October 2018 //

US authorities come out swinging in the latest round of enforcement and regulatory guidance on crypto assets


DIFC Courts and Smart Dubai to launch world’s first “Court of the Blockchain”

1st October 2018 //

A new blockchain court in the Dubai International Financial Centre will be set up to resolve smart contract disputes


UK Digital Currencies Inquiry recommends regulation of “Wild West” crypto-assets

26th September 2018 //

The Treasury Select Committee calls for regulation of what it calls the “Wild West” crypto-asset market to address consumer protection and money laundering concerns.


Could the EU regulate ICOs via its Crowdfunding Regulation?

20th September 2018 //

Could the draft Crowdfunding Regulation show how EU law will regulate ICOs?


FCA’s revised approach to regulating the UK crowdfunding industry

10th September 2018 //

The FCA has finished its probe into the UK crowdfunding industry. But what will it mean for P2P platforms?


European Parliament considers competition challenges in fintech sector

10th August 2018 //

A recent study suggests that a combination of competition law and other regulatory measures will be needed to ensure the competitive evolution of the fintech ecosystem.


FCA proposes applying its fundamental rules to payment services and e-money firms

6th August 2018 //

The FCA has proposed applying its basic expectations of firms to the payments services industry.


A Global View of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and Regulation

5th July 2018 // Thought leadership

This guide is designed to help you navigate the complex legal and regulatory matters surrounding Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token regulation in your region. This guide covers the U.S., the UK, the UAE, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, France, Germany, and Belgium.


What we learned at London Fintech Week 2018

19th July 2018 // Publication

London Fintech Week 2018 brought together leading experts from around the world to discuss the opportunities, challenges and future for fintech. Here is our wrap up of the key themes. 


Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledger – A Legal Perspective

3rd August 2017 // News

Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledger – A Legal Perspective is a new whitepaper, co-authored and published today by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and Linklaters.

digital transformation image CTA

Digital Transformation: be the facilitator of change

4th April 2018 // Publication

In our new report, co-authored by Microsoft and Linklaters, we demonstrate how digital transformation presents an opportunity for lawyers to influence, to collaborate and to partner with a range of stakeholders to enable the delivery of secure and compliant digital transformation solutions.


The European Commission’s Approach to AI

26th April 2018 // News

The European Commission has put forward a European approach to artificial intelligence to shape the conditions for its development and use.


Singapore's MAS proposes guidelines to protect users of e-payments

25th April 2018 //

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has issued a consultation paper on proposed guidelines to protect users of e-payments.


Singapore financial industry to develop guidance on responsible use of data analytics

4th April 2018 //

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has produced a guide of key principles and best practices for the use of AI and data analytics and will cover all segments of the financial sector, including fintech firms.



European Banking Authority fintech roadmap

16th March 2018 //

Following the Commission's fintech action plan, the EBA has published its own fintech priorities for the next couple of years.


Potentially unlawful U.S. online platforms

15th March 2018 //

Our analysis of the recent statement issued by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on potentially unlawful platforms trading digital assets.


U.S. SEC statement on potentially unlawful online platforms

14th March 2018 //

The statement answers the critical question of whether exchanges that allow token holders to trade tokens need to register as a national securities exchange or operate pursuant to an exemption from registration.


European Commission's fintech action plan

12th March 2018 //

As part of its strategy for a Capital Markets Union and the Digital Single Market, the European Commission's fintech action plan includes a proposed regulation for crowdfunding services.


Hong Kong Monetary Authority highlights BCBS fintech implications paper

2nd March 2018 //

The report assesses how technology-driven innovation in financial services may affect the banking industry and the activities of supervisors in the near to medium-term.


HKMA proposes changes to guidelines for authorisation of virtual banks

14th February 2018 //

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has launched a consultation on proposals to amend its Guideline on Authorization of Virtual Banks.


U.S. regulators outline approach to virtual currencies, ICOs and distributed ledger technologies

13th February 2018 //

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, the two leading U.S. financial regulators struck a measured balance between optimism and caution on virtual currencies.


Hong Kong Securities & Futures Commission warns of cryptocurrency risks again

9th February 2018 //

Having received complaints from investors, the SFC has written to ICO issuers and cryptocurrency exchanges about compliance with the Hong Kong regulatory regime.


Financial Regulation – Year in Review and Year to Come

21st December 2017 // Publication

What happened in 2017 and what is coming up in 2018? To help you keep track of all key developments on the regulatory horizon we have prepared a year in review and year to come guide.


UK FCA's feedback on distributed ledger technology

15th December 2017 //

The regulator's review of DLT strikes a balance between innovation and regulation and flags some legal and regulatory risks for digital currencies, smart contracts and ICOs.

Key Contacts

Financial institutions and disruptive companies alike trust Linklaters' lawyers with their most complex fintech projects.

We have consistently held the position of market-leaders in advising on the application of new technologies to finance, including: blockchain and crypto-assets, regtech, digital payments and platforms, artificial intelligence, smart contracts, fintech M&A, and fintech JVs and consortia.

Our strong relationships with regulators, banks, insurers, funds and infrastructure and service providers mean that we understand the issues that affect every area of the financial technology ecosystem. This enables us to deliver incisive, informed and innovative advice across the fintech spectrum.

Do get in touch if you have any questions or ideas you would like to discuss.