When the news of Brexit broke, there was understandably concern over its implications on the UK payments market. After all, since 1999 the EU has successfully launched initiatives aimed at integrating EU financial markets, facilitating the removal of legal barriers which hindered cross-border financial services activity across Europe. But now the future is uncertain. As a result, the Emerging Payments Association (EPA), under the leadership project, has established a global trade initiative, which I am proud to be leading.
The EPA Trade Initiative aims to educate the rest of the world on the strength of the UK payments market, ensuring its reputation for leading edge products and solutions, which have made the UK the hot bed for payments innovation, remains intact following Brexit. There are three key work streams which will drive the strategic objective for the EPA. The first is awareness and education, as we plan to position the EPA membership as the focal point of the Payments Industry with global operators beyond the Euro zone. We will be creating a program of local and national events, as well as implementing a strong marketing and communications plan. Through these methods we will offer expertise, innovation and education from product to regulation. This platform of knowledge sharing will facilitate better communication and realisation of business opportunities.
We will also be actively networking and cross-border working with industry associations and public bodies to establish relationships, with the aim of entering into a working partnership framework. Such partnerships will further support the payments industry cross border. Our third work stream will identify commercial and technology exporting opportunities for emerging markets outside the Euro zone. Our key objective is to open up trade corridors between the UK payments industry and emerging markets, initially LatAm and Asia Pacific. The initial phase will target Mexico, Serbia and China specifically. Fundamentally, this initiative will serve as a dynamic platform for continued global interaction for EPA and the membership.
Networking with these countries has proved promising so far. In June 2016 we hosted a delegation of five from Mexico looking at world class e-money regulations, technology and business models. In August 2016, three government officials met with a line-up of EPA members. This initiative has been fully supported by the UKTI and British Embassy. Those from Mexico are seeking companies to help pilot and roll-out a mobile and prepaid card programme for benefits distribution to seven million Mexican people. This was not exclusive to myself and the senior team at EPA, but any financial industry figures and EPA members.
Dialogue has also started with financial institutions within Serbia under the EPA banner and we have also had interest from the Hong Kong Development Corporation on how the EPA can support, advise and trade within Hong Kong to meet their desire to become a centre for FINTEC. Once again this is also working with UK trade associations.
In September, the EPA board and its members will be joining 20 other country representatives in China. The trip, called China Start, involves visiting China’s leading business school and incubator network, learning about best practice for business in China and pitching our services to companies there. A new company called ZymPay and a leading Bloomberg analyst of the Chinese tech scene will also be in attendance. EPA members will have opportunity to sit at the top table, win business opportunities and secure funding for their PayTech ventures.
allpay has already had some success in this market, having entered into a trade relationship with Lakala Group, one of the largest internet financial services groups in China. A key aim of this partnership is to build communication, co-operation and trust between the UK and China internet industries.
We are proactively reaching out to countries, pitching the UK as the global hub for payments innovation and reinforcing the idea that trade can remain strong post Brexit. We want to highlight how the EPA can help these countries moving forward, and that the Trade Initiative will create new, and strengthen existing, global relationships within the payments industry.
One of the greatest assets that the UK has always demonstrated to the rest of the world is our desire to explore, innovate and collaborate and the EPA membership has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to develop and support initiatives across the world.