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China solidified its position as the rising leader in the world of FinTech last year, with four more of its firms reaching a billion-dollar valuation, while the UK’s position declined slightly.

According to a new report by European tech investment bank GP Bullhound, last month’s near collapse of Ve Interactive pushed the number of billion-dollar valued firms in Britain from five to four.

Britain’s four billion-dollar FinTech firms ended the year with a combined value of $18.5bn (£14.43bn), the report says.

Meanwhile, China’s billion-dollar FinTech firms ended the year with a combined value of $112.3bn (£87.58bn) – more than double that of the second-placed United States, which stands at $52.6bn (£41.02bn).

The report said the number of billion-dollar FinTech firms in China now stands at 13. The United States, in contrast, saw no increase.

Across the globe, there are now 39 FinTech companies valued at $1bn or more, and global investment in the sector from venture capital firms has risen almost fivefold in the last three years, reaching $13.6bn (£10.61bn) in 2016.

Carl Wessberg, director at GP Bullhound, said FinTech has now become “embedded in the foundations of the financial services sector”.

Claudio Alvarez, also director, said the report “shows that FinTech has consolidated its position as an influential force in the global financial services industry”.

Weathering the Brexit storm

The report came on the same day as a group of UK FinTech firms said they are poised to turn the risks posed by Britain’s exit from the European Union into “billion-dollar opportunities”.

Produced by London-based FinTech accelerator Level39, the report says that cybersecurity and data science require urgent investment if UK FinTech is to weather the storm of Brexit.

Some 30% of the group’s members believe cybersecurity requires the most urgent investment, with 28% pointing to data science.

The UK’s FinTech sector – which reacted nervously to Britain’s Brexit vote last year – received a boost earlier this month when UK Chancellor Philip Hammond promoted the sector on a two-day trade visit to India.

The Chancellor was accompanied by several heads of UK FinTech startups, including Kristo Kaarman, co-founder of international currency exchange service TransferWise, and Husayn Kassai, co-founder of identity-checker Onfido.

Last week, Hammond said in a speech that Britain’s FinTech sector must “strive and graft and fight to seize opportunities” if it wants to maintain its position after Brexit, and must focus particularly on the Asian market.

Hammond’s speech came after money transfer company Transferwise said it would relocate its European HQ from London to the continent by March next year.

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