UK needs a big success to become Fintech Capital of the world & it is not $MONI

By Bernard Lunn

Monitise (stock symbol MONI.L) is the sad story of near death experience of UK Fintech’s first poster boy.

Monitise is a publicly traded Fintech (MONI.L). We do not include them in our Daily Fintech Index because they fail to meet our $300m minimum market cap threshold.

Peak share price was $80. At time of writing it is below $3. Ouch! At peak Monitise was a Unicorn – big deal unless you sold shares at that price.

Three big takeaways from this story:

  • Great technology in a hot market is not enough. Mobile money is hot and Monitise tech was – by all accounts – top notch.
  • White label B2B has been a favored low risk strategy but there is a reason that B2C ventures that succeed are more highly rated. B2B2C works ie you have a consumer brand but you also get distribution through partners (this is the kind of market development work we do at Daily Fintech Advisers).
  • Snapshot valuation is meaningless. This also applies to private company valuation. The difference is that you cannot short or easily sell private company stock. So you see a headline that says Company x raised money at $1 billion and 6 months later you have no idea if it is worth $100m (ouch) or $2 billion (pop the champagne). That is why I do not celebrate a Unicorn until I see either an IPO or a trade sale.

UK Fintech still lacks a poster boy. This matters. Without a big success (in real terms, realized cash on cash from an exit), people will talk about hype and bubble.

Silicon Valley open sourced its core intellectual property. You can get the startup manual on many sites and the combination of open source, cloud and APIs made building that Minimum Viable Product easy, quick and cheap. So the puck moved to scale ups as Reid Hoffman describes so well in this post.

StartUps are easy, ScaleUps are hard.

A few weeks ago I declared London the winner in the Fintech Capital of the World ranking. That was premature. In terms of buzz and activity and conferences, London certainly wins as I can attest after having just come back from London. In a few weeks in Singapore I will be moderating a panel at SIBOS about Fintech Hubs and plan to reissue this Fintech Capital Index with some new data points before then.

As the old saying goes “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

It is hard to weight the disruptive innovation that San Francisco/Silicon Valley is known for. San Francisco was not known for transportation expertise before totally changing the industry through Uber.

Which UK company will be the first to get to IPO at a valuation over $1 billion? The candidates that are often mentioned include:



World Remit




Funding Circle



Currency Cloud

Who have I missed?

The one thing that would make a big difference to London’s Fintech Capital status is a big win on the London public market (a subject we explored in this post). The big Fintech winners in London have to head to New York to do an IPO on NASDAQ or NYSE. That must put London at a disadvantage. The Monitise story will sadly make public investors wary of a Fintech story in UK unless it is backed by very good numbers.

Daily Fintech Advisers (the commercial arm of this open source research site) can help implement strategies related to the topics written about here. Contact us to start a conversation.

9 thoughts on “UK needs a big success to become Fintech Capital of the world & it is not $MONI

  1. Good post Bernard. I agree that valuations in Fintech are ridiculously high.

    However, I don’t agree with the fact that an IPO is required in London Fintech to make it the hub. IPO may not necessarily be the right answer for firms, that want to be nimble and agile, which is what differentiates Fintech players from incumbents.

    Valuations for these firms can be done based on comps’ valuations in the US, obviously with the market size factored in. If you take market capitalisation as a measure, US Fintech firms will trump UK firms because of the market size. But as an ecosystem depending on Finance/Tech expertise, investor and policy makers support, London has got all the boxes checked.


  2. Good post Bernard. Agree that valuations for Fintech companies can sometimes be baselessly high.

    However, I don’t agree that IPOs are needed in UK Fintech to get it closer to the US players. I think, Fintech firms have differentiated themselves from FS incumbents in being nimble, agile and aggressive in embracing innovation. That culture would be hard to replicate in a publicly listed firm that has to please myopic wall street ambitions.

    There are other techniques that can be used to value fintech firms. I believe Silicon Valley is special not because of the market capitalisation of the companies alone, but mostly because of the seamlessness of the ecosystem that is created by culture of innovation, duely supported by investor’s risk appetite and skills flowing from Stanford.

    In the same way, I think London checks all the boxes to lead Fintech globally!!


    • Thanks for an interesting comment Arun. I agree that sometimes a Private IPO is a better way while a venture is in the scale up phase. That is more patient capital that helps get over the inevitable bumps in the road. The kind of growth capital that does a Private IPO (SoFi raising $1 billion for example) is totally global. They will invest wherever the great venture are – plenty of examples of that. The main issue I was addressing is the lack – so far – of Fintech ventures of that scale in London. Whether it is a Private IPO or a Public IPO matters less.

      Is the LSE able to do what Stanford does?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed if that was the point on IPO.

        On the LSE point, I am pushing my alma maters (LSE/Oxford) to get more involved. I think academia is probably behind the cycle during the development of an innovation hub. And I also think investors in UK/Europe are a lot more conservative than their US counterparts.

        Thats where SEIS/EIS tax benefits help.


      • The LSE/Oxford contribution is critical IMO. Oxford is my alma mata. Tell me if I can help on that front.
        I think SEIS/EIS is critical at early stage and UK is doing great on that front. It is the growth/scale up stage where UK still lacks great champions. I don’t think capital is a constraint as these growth funds invest globally.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s