Fintech, money, finance

Fintech, money, finance” (CC BY 2.0) by Tech in Asia

Shoreditch might have provided a home for hipsters over the last few years, but beyond the beards and buns, our little piece of London has become a technology hub. Through a combination of innovation and investment, Shoreditch has been recognised as a hotbed of fintech and it’s since become known as the Silicon Roundabout.

In fact, as a testament to how far ahead of the curve Shoreditch is when it comes to fintech, we only have to look as the recent surge in popularity of Bitcoin. Following a year of growth and development, Bitcoin’s value more than doubled over the course of 2016. According to the Bitstamp exchange, Bitcoin started the year at $435 (£360) but ended with a valuation of $875 (£724). Aside from more than doubling in value, the jump saw Bitcoin hit its highest level since 2014.

Shoreditch Ahead of the Bitcoin Boom

Bitcoin ATM

Bitcoin ATM” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by zcopley

While the masses are gradually waking up to the benefits of Bitcoin, Shoreditch tech heads have been on board for a lot longer. Back in 2014, the UK’s first Bitcoin ATM went live inside The Old Shoreditch Station coffee bar. Having accepted Bitcoin payments for coffee since 2013, the shop upped its game a few months later with a machine that allowed customers to deposit, withdraw and exchange Bitcoin.

Since that time, Shoreditch companies helped organise a ten-day Bitcoin festival known as BlockStock and that seems to have inspired countries across the UK and Europe. Indeed, when you look at where mainstream companies are now moving, Bitcoin is now the hot tip. For example, if you’re a gamer and want to fill up your Xbox live account, Microsoft will now accept Bitcoin payments. Anytime you want to purchase new products, upgrades or in-game credits, you can now use Bitcoin to do it.

Similarly, if you’re an iGaming fan, BitCasino allows you play all manner of casino games using Bitcoin. On top of accepting deposits and withdrawals, BitCasino has levelled the playing field for international players (i.e. they can all play using the same currency without conversion charges) at the tables. When you go into the lobby, you’ll have the ability to play everything from Top Card Trumps and Sugar Pop slots to sports betting, exclusively using Bitcoin.

Where Shoreditch Leads, the Masses Will Follow

With more companies now using Bitcoin as a safe, secure and efficient system of processing payments, the cryptocurrency’s value has increased dramatically. But, as any Shoreditch fintech expert will tell you, we already knew that was going to be the case. In fact, that’s not the only thing tech experts in the area know. Thanks to Visa Europe’s decision to open up an innovation hub back in 2015, more fintech minds are flocking to Shoreditch.

According to City AM, digital industries are growing 32% faster than the average for businesses in other sectors – and Shoreditch is leading the way. As described by Galliard Homes, Shoreditch is “at the heart” of the UK’s tech scene and many of its residents are now starting to make a splash. Indeed, as we move through 2017, local stalwarts such as Aire (credit report technology) and TransferWise (online currency exchange) look set to continue setting the standard for fintech in the UK.

In fact, Ministry of Startups is now encouraging more people to come to the area. Offering a low cost way for entrepreneurs to work, collaborate or simply use their kitchen facilities, Elder Streets’ Ministry of Startups is not only helping to churn out more great innovations, but it’s keeping the reputation of Shoreditch alive. As the area has already shown with Bitcoin, setting trends and being ahead of the curve is a standard and through facilities like Visa Europe Collab and Ministry of Startups that tradition looks set to continue.