UK FinTech firms must target emerging markets in Asia, says Philip Hammond
The UK's tech sector must focus on emerging markets in Asia after Brexit and the country will remain open to the "brightest and best" workers from around the world, Philip Hammond said.
In a speech to financial technology (FinTech) entrepreneurs and investors, the Chancellor said the UK must look east in search of growth in the increasingly important sector, which is worth around £7 billion to the economy and employs 60,000 people.
Mr Hammond said "the world does not owe us a living" and the UK would have to fight to maintain its status as a leading player on the global stage.
He announced measures by banking giants Barclays and HSBC to boost FinTech firms in a speech in the City of London.
With the UK in the process of leaving the European Union, he insisted that the country's immigration system would remain open to talent from overseas.
Mr Hammond, who led a trade delegation to India last week, said: "If the UK is going to make the most of the freedoms it will have after leaving the European Union, we have to build trade links with the fast-growing economies of Asia.
"We have to invest in the skills of the future and our economy must remain at the cutting edge - not just of FinTech, but of AI (artificial intelligence), biotech - of every area in which we have the potential to lead the world into this new industrial revolution.
"The world does not owe us a living. We will have to strive and graft and fight to seize opportunities, and make the most of them."
He said: "We need to continue to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to these shores - and we will," but he added the UK must also "do better at nurturing and developing" home-grown talent.
Mr Hammond said the "fourth industrial revolution", driven by advances in areas such as FinTech, had the potential to "fundamentally transform the structure of the global economy, and the way we live our lives".
But he added: "We can't remain the number one place for FinTech and the other technologies of the fourth industrial revolution by simply relying on our ingenuity, talent and openness. We have to go out and get the business."
Barclays will open the "largest FinTech accelerator of its kind in Europe" in London next month, with 500 workspaces for start-up firms.
Mr Hammond also set out a project between HSBC and Tradeshift which will allow firms to manage supply chains and working capital requirements from any device.
It is a "great example of a partnership between a banking giant and a FinTech entrepreneur to develop practical solutions to support everyday businesses", Mr Hammond said.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Baroness Kramer said the best way of attracting entrepreneurs would be to abandon plans to leave the EU single market.
She said: "By their very nature, these businesses are global in outlook and simply don't understand why we would seek to divorce ourselves from the world's largest single market.
"The Government's failure to guarantee a right to remain is also making many highly capable EU citizens in the FinTech sector feel they are simply no longer welcome here."