Britain's digital minister expressed his eagerness to pursue collaboration between his country and Japan in "fintech," an emerging industry combining financial services and information technology, to capitalize on the future's many opportunities.
Matt Hancock said in an interview with Kyodo News and other media outlets in late September that he has "no doubt that more collaboration" between Britain and Japan "will lead to better results for both" in the sector, worth 7 billion pounds ($9.3 billion) to the United Kingdom's economy.
Hancock, who was in Japan as part of a British fintech mission pitching to investors, said he was impressed that Japanese financial institutions "understand the need to digitize and use new technology."
"The Japanese FSA is forward-looking and we are working together to try to support the growth of fintech and so I can see some big opportunities," the 39-year-old minister said, referring to cooperation with Japan's Financial Services Agency.
An example of such collaboration came through a March agreement between Britain's Financial Conduct Authority and the FSA to support innovative fintech companies. The deal provides a "regulatory referral system" for such businesses from Japan and Britain seeking to enter each other's markets.
Touching on bitcoin digital currency and other virtual currencies, he expressed his confidence that it is "natural" for London, a major international financial market, to "be the home to bitcoin transactions."
"We are open to bitcoin and other similar currencies in the U.K. We think they've got a role to play," he said.
As for the impact of Britain's decision to leave the European Union -- dubbed "Brexit" -- on the local fintech industry, he said one of the consequences "will be that Britain needs to be more global."
"We need to trade more and engage more with countries all the way around the world," said Hancock. He sees that there are "opportunities globally" and that "leaving the European Union means that we'll have to put more focus on the global links."
Speaking at an event in the British Embassy in Tokyo last month, Hancock touted Britain's strength in the fintech industry and the future of the sector in nations such as Japan.
"Fintech is poised to transform financial services, an area that has long been a great strength to the U.K.," he said.
The two countries, the minister said, "stand at the forefront of considering where these (technological) changes can take us and how best we can equip ourselves for the future and harness the opportunities."