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London now has more fintech unicorns than San Francisco

·Finance and policy reporter
Monzo Bank
Monzo Bank

London has more fintech unicorns than San Francisco and any other European city, according to a new study.

The UK capital has created one unicorn—a privately held startup valued at more than $1bn—every month for the past year, new figures suggest.

There are now 72 such companies based in Britain, making the UK the third most successful country for producing them in the world behind the USA and China.

London is rated the most successful city in Europe on this measure, with more than four times as many as its nearest rival.

45 unicorn firms are in London, compared to just 10 in Berlin and nine in Paris and Stockholm.

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18 of the companies are fintech firms, compared to just 15 fintech unicorns in San Francisco, though the wider Bay Area around it boasts 31.

London fintech unicorns include TransferWise, Monzo, MoneySuperMarket, Metro Bank, Revolut and Funding Circle.

But such companies are not limited to the capital, with Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Edinburgh also boasting at least two billion-dollar firms.

The research suggests the UK also leads Europe on venture capital investment, with a record $5bn expected in the first half of 2019 alone.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Boats operated by the Port of London Authority, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade pass under Tower Bridge during the launch of a new campaign to help prevent accidents and self-harm incidents on the River Thames on May 21, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Tower Bridge in London. Photo: Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Britain boasts a further 75 companies described as “on the path to unicorn status,” making up almost one in three of such firms in Europe.

“Since 2012 the UK has produced as many unicorns as Israel, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden combined,” the research notes.

Nicola Mendelsohn, a vice-president at Facebook, said: “It’s exciting that the UK is punching above its weight on the international scene and we will continue to invest here to be part of this dynamic tech sector.”

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Cindy Rose, chief executive of Microsoft UK, also said in a statement: “The UK continues to be at the forefront of digital transformation. At Microsoft, our work with start-ups and scale-ups confirms that the potential of the UK tech sector is growing daily.”

But she warned “we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” calling for improvements in digital skills across all age groups, attracting more young staff and particularly women into the digital economy.