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Canary Wharf Imperiled by New London Fintech Hub

A fintech campus in the City of London is set to rival Canary Wharf’s Level 39.

  • Joe McGrath

London is creating a new fintech center to rival the financial hub at Canary Wharf.

Innovate Finance, a trade group for U.K.’s global fintech community, plans to open a new office in Broadgate Estate, an area under redevelopment near London’s Liverpool Street station in the heart of the city, according to Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Wintermeyer. The group is expanding to the new hub for financial, technology and professional services firms, without giving up its first home at Canary Wharf in East London, he said in an interview.

Canary Wharf, the bustling business district where Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings have offices, has been a popular venue, closer to the suburbs, for fintech firms to set up shop. But now they’re being lured to the City of London, near traditional financial firms, such as UBS Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, which reside in the financial district and historic center of England’s capital.

A new “city fintech cluster” will open “in the coming months,” Mark Boleat, chairman of the policy and resources committee at the City of London Corporation, the local authority supporting the area’s activities, announced Monday at the Innovate Finance Global Summit. The “development marks just the first, but a significant step” in the evolution of City of London, according to Boleat.

“With Innovate Finance moving to the City, we are expecting that to encourage more people in the area,” he said in an interview following his speech at the summit in London.

Last year, Switzerland’s UBS moved into a large building in the Broadgate Estate area, which is being redeveloped before the opening of a station for London’s Crossrail, a new railway under construction to ease congestion. Several other companies are likely to move to the new campus, Boleat said in the interview following his presentation, noting the discussions are ongoing.

A spokeswoman for the Broadgate development didn’t immediately provide comment.

Innovate Finance is based at the renowned “Level 39” complex in Canary Wharf’s Canada Square tower, sharing building space with about 213 other fintech companies, some backed by global banks and venture capital firms. Level 39, which opened in 2013, is the largest dedicated fintech space in Europe, occupying three floors at One Canada Square.

“We will stay at our hub in Level 39, but are looking to set up a campus in the City,” Wintermeyer said. The City of London has “a bold vision for fintech,” recognizing the need for an innovative center bringing fintech, regtech and insuretech firms - businesses that provide new technology for finance, regulation and insurance - together with professional services groups and lawyers who can assist with their development, he said.

The City of London funds 30 percent of Innovate Finance’s expenses, according to Wintermeyer, who said the trade association is planning to have a ‘pop-up’ presence in several global cities in next three years, including New York, Mumbai and Shenzhen. “I think we’ll end up with sites not just in Canary Wharf and Broadgate, but pop-up campuses in New York and hubs in Europe and Asia,” he said.

Asif Faruque, spokesman for Canary Wharf Group’s Level 39, said he supports Innovate Finance’s decision to embrace a “multi-location strategy.”