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Nemo goes North

FinTech North welcomed us to the Yoko Ono Lennon Centre at the University of Liverpool, alongside payment professionals invested in the future of FinTech.

With many key FinTech players situated in the North, FinTech North began their initiative to galvanise relations and opportunities between these businesses and individuals by launching their first flagship conference in 2019. These conferences are an opportunity to network, stay informed on the latest thinking and developments, and incite consideration of wider issues relevant to the sector.

Following the welcome from Councillor Liam Robinson, of Liverpool City Council, it is also clear that by tuning into industry at this more regional level enhances the responsiveness of FinTech companies to current affairs, and the receptiveness of local authorities to facilitate a means for collaboration.

Project Nemo members were the first panel to take to the stage, led by our founder Joanne Dewar, alongside Disability Advocate and Co-founder of Open Book, Kris Foster, and Vice President of Business Development at Mastercard, Derren Powell. The topic was ‘Increasing Accessibility and Equality in FinTech’ and the discussion explored disability and inclusion from a range of aspects.

The trio began by using audio descriptions to introduce themselves, demonstrating the ease, and fun that can be had, with making small but important gestures to create an inclusive environment for all.

As a former CEO, Joanne shared how she was deeply struck by the positive and even unanticipated benefits of employing someone with a disability, and how much this awoke her to the underrepresentation of this group, often prioritised far below where they should be when companies come to addressing diversity. Kris then provided personal insight to life as someone with Down Syndrome and Autism, and the only employee with Down Syndrome in the FinTech industry across the globe. He described the power of disabled voices being heard in order to make important changes that ensure disabled people are being represented, included, and valued so that the emphasis on limitations of disabled individuals can move to a focus on their abilities, which should lead in conversations and initiatives going forward. Derren relayed how Kris’ experience had inspired him to become committed to the cause of disability inclusion, calling for others to realise its importance and use platforms such as LinkedIn to educate and incite people to act. Derren and Kris then reflected on the significance of allyship, with Kris celebrating Derren for his, and how much of a difference allies can make to actively creating genuine and much needed change.

Joanne would later take the spotlight again, leading a fireside chat with Chloe Fox-Robertson, PhD Researcher at the University of Manchester, and Jordan Dargue, Co-Founded at Lifted Ventures. They discussed ‘The triple glass ceiling: fintech gender inequalities’, synonymous with the title of Chloe’s research paper. It was a highly informative conversation addressing barriers faced by women in FinTech, such as the gender funding gap and equality of opportunity. Jordan also informed us of the remarkable differences their Angel Investors have found, as female-led businesses generate twice as much revenue per pound invested, despite receiving half the capital. Lifted Ventures have also launched an ADHD Blueprint, as 15% of their applicants have disclosed they have ADHD, and have plans to focus on other disabled groups. This is music to Project Nemo’s ears, and a perfect example of how disability inclusion being viewed as an asset is good for business and good for people.

FinTech North was a fantastic day, with live music accompanying us at lunch and an energetic atmosphere.

In the words of Liverpool’s own, The Beatles – ‘Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding is all you see’. Project Nemo will be an eye-opening experience for all.