Climb of 19 places takes Manchester to 34th position globally, ninth in Europe and UK number one outside London

Cities ranked on success of FinTech firms and ecosystem

Manchester’s growing success as a prime location to start and scale a financial technology – FinTech – firm has been underlined by a Top 50 ranking within The Global Fintech Index (GFI) by findexable.

With cities ranked according to the success of individual firms and the ecosystem of their location, Manchester climbed 19 places in the 2021 index to secure 34th position in the rankings globally, ninth in Europe and number one in the UK outside London.

The 2021 Global Fintech Rankings, powered by Mambu, identifies emerging hubs, FinTech companies and trends. The Index algorithm ranks the FinTech ecosystems of more than 264 cities across 83 countries incorporating data from findexable’s own records and collated and verified by its Global Partnership Network, including Crunchbase, StartupBlink, SEMrush and 60+ fintech associations globally. The index was first published in 2019 and has seen a huge uptake by the FinTech industry.

The 2021 index includes 13 UK cities but only London and Manchester are home to the headquarters of ‘Unicorn’ companies, privately held start-ups with valuations over $1 billion. The wider Greater Manchester region is home to six unicorns – or 43% of the UK’s FinTech unicorns and more eCommerce unicorns than any city in Europe. Birmingham entered the findexable rankings at 123, Cardiff came close after at 127.  

Providing an invaluable guide for financial institutions, investors, government agencies, advisors and FinTech firms themselves, findexable’s Global Fintech Index is powered by data including key scale-up drivers such as availability of tech incubators, investment, access to talent and ease of doing business.

Tim Newns, CEO of MIDAS, Greater Manchester’s inward investment agency, said: “We are delighted that Manchester’s growing global reputation as a significant FinTech hub has been recognised. This report not only looks at the quantity of individual FinTech firms but delves down into the success of both the FinTech companies themselves and the supporting ecosystem, the latter of which we believe to be key to firms’ success.

“Coupled with affordability, access to talent and brilliant quality of life, The Global FinTech Index by findexable provides clear evidence that Manchester is the best UK city to start and scale a FinTech business.”

Elise Wilson, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) portfolio lead and deputy chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s great to see Greater Manchester’s emerging strength as a hub for FinTech businesses recognised in this global index.

“Our city-region’s digital economy is thriving and we can offer employers and founders in the sector all the ingredients they look for – liveability, great locations, access to the right talent and outstanding education providers to work with.

“FinTech is becoming increasingly relevant and important to our everyday lives, and we’re proud that some of the most exciting companies in the sector call Greater Manchester home.”

Findexable’s founder and CEO Simon Hardie, said: “Manchester’s ambition as a viable commercial alternative to London is increasingly more about substance than soundbite. A well-established tradition of digital and media activity has more recently inspired vibrant payments and FinTech scene.

“This and other factors like the city’s world-renowned universities and an enabling ecosystem supported by development agencies like MIDAS have helped power the city’s rise to the top of the UK and European FinTech rankings this year. It’s an exciting time to be in FinTech in the north of the UK.”

Manchester is home to more than 80+ FinTech companies and the UK’s largest regional financial, professional and business services (FPBS) industry outside of London, employing more than 280,000 people.

It is the fastest growing FinTech ecosystem in the UK and has cemented a reputation as the FinTech Capital of the North and is officially a top five European city for FinTechs to locate (Savills).

Manchester had already cemented its reputation as the fastest-growing tech city in Europe, with separate research by Tech Nation and job search engine Adzuna highlighting a $687.6m investment in tech investment in 2019. Manchester was shown to be only second to London for UK tech investment that year, overtaking Cambridge.

Specialising in payments, platforms, software and consumer finance, Manchester has recently seen OakNorth, Adyen, Klarna and MoneySuperMarket expand into the city, complementing homegrown FinTechs including AccessPay, Raisin and Nivo.

An array of innovation hubs, accelerators and incubators underpin Manchester’s FinTech ecosystem, where start-ups, SMEs and larger firms converge, collaborate and drive innovation.

The City to Scale campaign from MIDAS highlights the way in which FinTechs located in Manchester benefit from:

  • Access to expert talent
  • An established, dynamic Ecosystem
  • Investment in ideas, with the infrastructure, investors and investment mechanisms to support the growth of business
  • Lower operating costs than the capital
  • International connectivity via Manchester Airport to more than 210 destinations worldwide

The 2021 findexable Global Fintech Rankings is produced in partnership with Mambu, the market-leading cloud banking platform.

The report found that even during a year of significant economic downturn and serious disruption, FinTech companies were being launched and significant investment was being made in the sector, more than doubling the value of fintech unicorns as a group from $199 billion to $440 billion.

This speaks to one of the report’s larger themes, which is that FinTech is bridging gaps in consumers’ lives, many of them revealed or made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from Mastercard showed that in the first quarter of 2020 there was a greater shift to digital banking in ten weeks than there had been in the previous five years. FinTech can no longer be dismissed as a fad but is a part of billions of peoples’ lives – ‘FinTech for all rather than the few’. However, there is a significant gap between major players and the next generation of innovators in terms of funding that needs to be addressed to keep the industry moving forward with new ideas. There also remains a gap between the customers of FinTechs – women are often early adopters, while emerging markets are sources of giant user bases – and the people leading them.