The Island has a history of innovation, and its fintech record goes back to the 1990s, when Nick Ogden, a titan of the tech world, was running the first online shop from the Island and set up Worldpay here in 1997. Most recently, Nick has launched the world’s first cross-border liquidity network, RTGS.global from Jersey. A huge vote of confidence in what Jersey has to offer.
While the Island is known for its well-established and well- regulated international finance centre, together with its world class infrastructure, it also makes the perfect test bed and growth environment for fintech innovators like Nick.
Jersey was the first jurisdiction in the world to make 1GB full- fibre broadband available to every home, whilst the network which connects homes and businesses to pure fibre gigabit- speeds, allows businesses to process significant volumes of data at high speed to other global locations. It also boasts three 4G mobile networks and three dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) networks.
As an independent Island, with its own parliamentary system, judiciary and currency, it offers a complete critical infrastructure on a microscale, allowing easy access to key stakeholders such as regulator, industry and government. As a British Isle, Jersey is also closely aligned to the UK and monetary policies are linked to the Bank of England but it sits just 14 miles from the coast of France and the rest of Europe.
Jersey’s finance industry has a longstanding global reputation for transparency and excellence and the local regulator – the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) – has taken a proactive approach to innovation. It is a member of the Global Fintech Innovation Network and in July 2014, approved the establishment of the world’s first regulated Bitcoin fund, GABI plc. It was also one of the first jurisdictions in the world to implement a virtual currency exchange regime in 2016. With its forward-thinking approach to emerging technologies, the Island has already built a pool of expert talent and service providers in the blockchain space.
The combination of finance industry expertise and emerging technologies’ skills is seeing Jersey’s digital industry forging ahead with a range of fintech solutions that utilise blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Proptech, online settlement solutions, e-ID and regtech are already being used in the Island. Local firms have launched data-protection solutions, such as the personal data app, Revoke; and Sandbox projects have included a shared Know Your Client (KYC) and Client Due Diligence (CDD) platform, Mesh ID, which works to make onboarding clients painless and automated, while still allowing the customer to retain control of their information.
Digital Jersey’s Sandbox proposition is supported by all key players on Island. The Sandbox initiative allows both homegrown and international innovators to test their solutions on a microcommunity, before scaling up internationally. Offshore internet banking platforms and banking apps have been tested in Jersey, ready to be rolled out elsewhere.
With 13,000 skilled finance workers and over 3,000 people in the digital sector, Jersey can provide the right level of support to fintech businesses. The JFSC supports the Sandbox Jersey initiative to ensure the right balance of regulation and innovation to bring fintech products to market. Digital Jersey has created a research and development space and through the Island’s extensive financial and digital networks – plus strong working relationships – mentors and guidance can be found for individuals and organisations working in the field of fintech and regtech.
The Jersey for Fintech initiative has brought the key stakeholders together and work is underway on a new fintech framework for the Island. This will ensure that all parties have one vision, which works within the financial services quality framework and ensures a world-class output. More information on Jersey’s Fintech proposition is also freely available at www.fintech.je.
Skills are critical for any industry and no more so than in technology which evolves at such a fast rate. Digital Jersey and the government have invested in a new Digital Academy which is offering free upskilling courses in Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analytics, coding and many more digital skills. We have developed the courses in conjunction with businesses and industry so Jersey can be sure it is growing the right talent. There is a recognition that home-grown talent is essential, alongside collaboration to ensure that specialised skills and digital entrepreneurs are able to come to the Island and enrich the skills pool.
Jersey is getting the recognition it deserves. I recently spoke at the London Fintech Week conference. Jersey and Bahrain have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to drive digital innovation across both jurisdictions. In addition, an MoU has also been signed with the New Jersey Big Data Alliance. While entrepreneurs, such as Nick Ogden, travel the world as unofficial ambassadors for the Island, international fintech thought leader, Dave Birch, has been appointed the official Fintech Ambassador for Jersey, validating the strength of Jersey’s offering.
In the wake of digital acceleration from the pandemic, cloud- based solutions can only accelerate the need and opportunity for fintech solutions. Jersey is well-placed to ensure it is the easiest international finance centre to do business with remotely in a digital world. In order to do that, it has created the ideal environment for fintech innovation.