The Fintech Revolution

Written by Rod Faul, Account Director | Finance, VIRTUS Data Centres Published 2016-11-03 09:16:00

The financial services sector is in the midst of a technology revolution, perhaps more so than any other industry. At the same time, it is faced with the same issues and challenges other sectors are seeing: the need to reduce capital expenditure, do more with less and free up resources to focus on the core business. Added to the burden is an increasingly demanding customer base wanting access to new and sophisticated services any time, any place and anywhere.

And then there’s the slew of new challenger financial technology – fintech – companies. They are small and agile and are not burdened with the huge overheads and infrastructure which the incumbents have inherited and must now streamline and optimise without affecting service delivery.

Fintech essentially uses technology, i.e. software, to provide more efficient financial services. Disruptors that make it easier to do business and lower costs for transactions such as mobile payments, money transfers, loans and fundraising are now common.

Fintech innovation in financial services is growing, and we’re starting to see interest in and early-use cases for the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain in the financial sector. The possibilities for fintech are seemingly endless.

It’s clear that traditional financial institutions of all shapes and sizes must adapt to survive. Rather than competing head on with the challengers, the traditional players are turning to their technology in the form of partnerships and investment. While fintech start-ups might be disruptive, they lack the long tradition and large customer bases of the established players. Some have a clear business case to survive in their own right, but an increasing number are providing services to, or being acquired by the incumbents.


What the rise of fintech means for any financial services provider, incumbent or challenger, is more data, much of which needs to be processed in, or near, real-time.


Colocation with a third-party has long been seen as a viable option for the financial services industry, with secure and efficient data centres that will enable them to reduce capital overheads and free up scarce resources. These resources can then be devoted to developing new services to both retain existing customers and attract new ones.

Many financial institutions rushed to data centres in the heart of the world’s financial centres, paying through the nose for the privilege of being housed in a financial ecosystem. However, there’s a growing acceptance that only the most critical workloads may need to be centrally located. The majority of back-end systems and applications can be colocated in a data centre outside the financial hub, but with ultra-low latency connectivity to that hub.

High Frequency Trading has historically demanded ultra-low latency connectivity to markets and exchange, but whilst this is still the case for a number of asset classes, futures exchanges/SEFs etc. are not bound by this old necessity and as such, financial houses and buy side partners in particular can benefit from the newly designed TierIII+ data centres that allow for much more flexibility and fluidity, which is ultimately reflected in more scalable, commercially viable locations.

Data centre performance is becoming increasingly important to the financial services sector, and many older facilities simply aren’t up to the job. Processing ever increasing amounts of data requires high density colocation space, alongside low density space for day-to-day operations. Financial institutions – incumbents and especially start-ups – also need the ability to scale as they grow.

London is and will remain a key global financial hub, despite the confusion and pessimism in the wake of the Brexit vote. It is also a leading global fintech sector with an established and thriving industry. That, too, is unlikely to change – despite the attempts of other European cities to lure fintech start-ups away from the capital. Whatever Brexit deal the government ultimately agrees, it will not sacrifice an industry that is so important to the British economy and its place in the global economy. As such there is and will continue to be an urgent need for high quality, high density, well connected data centre space in and around London, such as that provided by VIRTUS in Slough and nearby Hayes.

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