The Lord Mayor of the City of London will lead a five-day trade mission to India next week with a delegation of financial technology companies from Britain to boost India-UK ties in innovation and fintech.
Peter Estlin, who is the global ambassador for the UK's financial and professional services industry as the Lord Mayor of London, will cover Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai for meetings with the government, regulator and industry leaders during the mission starting next Monday.
“As a businessman who has travelled to India regularly over the last two decades, I firmly believe that the UK can be a key knowledge partner for the country in its fintech journey,” Estlin said, ahead of the visit.
“The aim is to build on the long-term ties and on Prime Minister Modi's initiatives, tapping into the fundamental changes taking place both in India and in the UK. The particular focus is on fintech, but also insurance and looking at how we partner with Indian businesses,” he said.
The City of London Mayor said the visit aims to boost relations between India and the UK in innovative finance, and follows work between the City of London Corporation, UK government and Indian High Commission in London on a number of programmes, including Access India, which works to support UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs) expanding into India.
The Lord Mayor described the process as a two-way street, for UK businesses looking to expand into India but also encouraging Indian businesses to expand into Britain. He said the visit would build on the India Day hosted by the City of London in mid-July and reflects a momentum created for closer India-UK partnerships.
“It [India Day] showcased where the opportunities for expansion are but also where India is not going to move necessarily as quickly, for example with the internationalisation of the Rupee. India wants to develop its marketplace and it wants support in doing that but it does not necessarily want to open up every aspect of it, and we respect that,” noted Estlin.
“On the UK side, we have built up a very strong fintech community here and we have been encouraging the [Indian] businesses that have already established here to leverage and tap into that marketplace by setting up their own incubators, State Bank of India for example,” he said.
Among some of the meetings in India, there is a roundtable planned in Mumbai involving Reserve Bank of India (RBI) representatives to have a discussion on opportunities for online banking companies in the fintech space. The delegation will also be keen to highlight that uncertainties around the ongoing Brexit negotiations and Britain's impending exit from the European Union (EU) are not a major factor from the perspective of the financial services sector.
“As far as financial services are concerned, banks and insurers have already taken steps… and there is equally no impact on areas of innovation. Brexit has created a sort of distraction and is masking the sheer scale of innovation taking place here in the UK,” said the Lord Mayor.
Estlin, a banker by profession, is the 691st incumbent as the Lord Mayor – a role which dates back centuries as the leader of London's so-called Square Mile, or financial district. He has already covered some 27 countries over the course of his year in office, with the latest ones being Nepal and India.
He arrives in Kathmandu on Sunday, where he is scheduled to hold meetings with senior figures including Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Finance Minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada and the Governor of Nepal Nastra Bank Dr Chiranjibi Nepal before moving on to India with a delegation of nine fintech companies including Agvesto Ltd, Aon, Asset Vault, Greensill Capital, iProov, Onfido, Revolut, Transferwise and Voxta.