Innovate Finance launches the first Unicorn Council for UK FinTech

| 4th Mar 2024 | 8min read

Convening the CEOs and Founders of the largest UK FinTech businesses – unicorns and soonicorns, the Council aims to provide government with the crucial policy recommendations that will support and pioneer the growth of the sector

The Council will be co-chaired by Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance; Philip Belamant, CEO of Zilch and Charles McManus, CEO of Clearbank

London, March 4, 2024 – Innovate Finance, the independent industry body for UK FinTech, today launches the first Unicorn Council for UK FinTech (UCFT), a coalition of UK-based FinTech unicorn founders to accelerate and unlock promised growth in the UK FinTech sector. The Council will be co-chaired by Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, and a steering committee of FinTech leaders including Philip Belamant, CEO of Zilch and Charles McManus, CEO of Clearbank.

The Unicorn Council for UK FinTech will provide the government with key policy recommendations to both protect and maintain the UK’s leading global position in FinTech ensuring the country successfully meets the investment and growth challenges over the next 10 years.

FinTech is a crucial strategic sector of the UK economy, contributing to the country’s innovation, productivity and growth. According to Innovate Finance’s latest FinTech Investment Landscape, despite decreased investments in the sector in 2023, the UK maintains its global leadership, securing more capital than the rest of Europe combined.

The Council has a focus on improving policy, perception and liquidity for the FinTech sector by amplifying a unified industry voice on the key priorities of CEOs, investors and board members to scale their FinTech organisations.

The Council will identify key prevailing issues for UK companies to truly scale-up and grow, and will have direct interaction with senior Government ministers and officials to provide recommendations as to how policy interventions can best help these companies. In turn, it will help unlock and drive greater direct foreign investment into the UK, enhancing our international competitiveness.

Co Chairs:

  • Philip Belamant, CEO, Zilch
  • Janine Hirt, CEO, Innovate Finance
  • Charles McManus, CEO, Clearbank

Sample of members included are:

  • TS Anil, CEO of Monzo
  • Justin Basini, CEO of ClearScore
  • Shachar Bialick, CEO of Curve
  • Francesca Carlesi, UK CEO of Revolut
  • Richard Davies, CEO of Allica Bank
  • Iana Dimitrova, CEO of Openpayd
  • Alasdair Haynes, CEO of Acquis Exchange
  • Myles Stephenson, CEO of Modulr
  • Rob Straathof, CEO of Liberis
  • Louise Hill, CEO of GoHenry
  • Jaidev Janardana, CEO of Zopa
  • Antony Jenkins CBE, CEO of 10xBanking
  • Rishi Khosla OBE, CEO of OakNorth Bank
  • Vishal Marria, CEO of Quantexa
  • Francesco Simoneschi, CEO of TrueLayer
  • Paul Taylor, Thought Machine

The Council’s ExCo will be chaired by Mike Carter, Senior Policy Advisor at Innovate Finance and Ryan Mendy, Chief Communications Officer at Zilch. In addition, the Unicorn Council for UK FinTech will at various points come together with the Startup Coalition’s Unicorn Project for Tech, also launched today, to create a first-of-its-kind umbrella forum for UK unicorns across all sectors, and united voice for Britain’s foremost innovators at the highest levels of government and policy making. Both Innovate Finance and the Startup Coalition focus on delivering the best policy environment for Britain’s leading tech companies in their core constituencies – FinTech and non-fintech respectively – and the organisations look forward to working together to get these companies the policy change they require to scale to even greater heights.

Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, said: “In the last few years UK FinTech has shown resilience by maintaining its position as a global hub for investment, second in the world behind only the US, and maintaining the leading position in Europe.

However, to maintain our leadership we need to accelerate our work with industry, government and regulators to ensure the necessary support for growth tech companies, including proactive regulation and increased investment.

Today we are delighted to launch the Unicorn Council for UK FinTech to unlock the growth in the UK FinTech sector, support the innovators and industry change makers, and attract investment.”

Philip Belamant, CEO and Co-Founder of Zilch, said: “As a proudly British-born company, we’re excited to co-found this dedicated council for UK unicorns. This is a chance to redefine how global investors see the distinct value of investing in the high growth, UK FinTech sector.

We’re talking about changing policies and perceptions that flip the script on how founders think about scaling in the UK and beyond. I’m looking forward to this unique opportunity to work closely with the industry’s best companies and Innovate Finance, to craft the policy playbook that outlines what the government, regulators and the broader ecosystem need to address if our generation of fintech businesses are to thrive on a global stage.”

The Unicorn Council will be a subset of the Innovate Finance FinTech Strategy Group, and will work with established organisations including the the Capital Markets Industry Taskforce (CMIT).

Julia Hoggett, CEO of the London Stock Exchange, engaged on the Capital Markets Industry Taskforce, said: “We welcome the creation of the Unicorn Council for UK FinTech and we remain committed to work with the Council on matters of shared interest to support the growth of the sector.”

Dom Hallas, Executive Director of the Startup Coalition, said: “We’re delighted to support Innovate Finance’s Unicorn Council for UK FinTech in line with the Startup Coalition’s Unicorn Project. We look forward to all working together to get these and future UK tech companies the serious policy change they require to scale to even greater heights.”

Ryan Mendy, CCO of Zilch, said: “Envision the Unicorn Council as a colossal £50 billion plus conveyor belt, propelling today’s privately held entities into the limelight as tomorrow’s publicly held giants. Outside the US, the UK is the undisputed first choice for global businesses to IPO their successful ventures. The genesis of the Unicorn Council emerged from a vision Zilch had to forge a groundbreaking, unified voice for FinTech CEOs and Founders with future-proof policies that match the needs of their high growth businesses. This will help Ministers make the strategic policy moves that will catapult the UK back into the global economic powerhouse it desires to be.”

— ENDS —

Notes to Editor

For more information about the Unicorn Council for UK FInTech and to get involved please connect with the Innovate Finance team at [email protected].

The Council will convene at Innovate Finance Global Summit on April 15 and 16 2024. If you are a member of the press and would like to attend please contact the Innovate Finance Press Team at [email protected].

Media contacts

Innovate Finance – [email protected] 

Zilch – [email protected]

About Innovate Finance

Innovate Finance is the independent industry body that represents and advances the global FinTech community in the UK. Its mission is to support the next generation of technology-led innovators to create a more democratic and more effective financial services sector that works better for all

Innovate Finance’s membership ranges from seed stage startups and global financial institutions to investors, professional services firms, and global FinTech hubs. All benefit from Innovate Finance’s unique position as the single point of access to promote enabling policy and regulation, talent and skills, business opportunity and growth, and investment capital.

By bringing together and connecting the most forward-thinking participants in financial services, Innovate Finance is helping create a UK and global financial services sector that is more transparent, more sustainable and more inclusive.

For more information, visit:

About Zilch

Zilch’s vision is to eliminate the cost of consumer credit. For good.

Zilch is the ad-subsidised payments network. Leveraging its unique vertically integrated, first party data business model to set itself apart from the incumbent fintech industry with a profitable global revenue source, bringing unrivalled value to customers and marketers alike. Today, Zilch is revolutionising the $50 trillion advertising and payments industries by merging the very best of debit, credit, and savings.

Zilch provides millions of customers the freedom to go anywhere in the world (online or offline) and when they pay, earn up to 5% cashback & rewards on debit payments (‘Pay Now’) or spread interest-free credit repayments over six weeks or three months and in the process help build their credit profiles with the major credit agencies. Three years from launch, Zilch had amassed more than 3.6 million registered customers.

With the launch of its proprietary Ad-Subsidised-Payments Network (ASPN), Zilch allows retailers worldwide instant connection with millions of Zilch’s first-party data, closed loop network of high intent customers. Offering customers personalised savings, deals and discounts codified to their habitual spend.

In January 2023, Zilch struck a ground-breaking reporting agreement with the UK’s prime credit reference agencies, transforming the UK lending ecosystem by enabling 35m working adults to build their credit records using interest-free credit rather than high-cost revolving credit products.

Since April 2020, Zilch has been regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), obtaining a consumer credit licence through the Regulatory Sandbox Programme.

For more information, visit:
Ryan Mendy, Chief Communications Officer, [email protected]