November 11, 2020

Digitalisation of physical services is happening quicker than ever before, across almost every sector imaginable as a result of the global paradigm shift in the way we go about our daily lives.

Estimates suggest that during the first six months of 2020 some sectors saw as much as five year’s progress being made on their digital transformation journeys. This includes sectors that would have previously found it very difficult to imagine digitalising at all.

If one sector could be said to have led the way towards digitalisation, it’s financial services. Thanks to the rapid rise in FinTech innovation and investment since the global financial crash of 2007/8, millions of us now conduct our day to day banking completely online and through mobile apps. Whether it’s transferring money, checking statements or paying bills, the 24/7 convenience and speed of digital services has led to a revolution that has spread to almost every conceivable corner of financial services from book keeping to buying foreign currency.

Open Banking – widely anticipated to be the next big FinTech revolution – promises not only to continue to shape the way we manage and spend our money, but offers a whole new set of tools and APIs to help combat fraud and money laundering in the ongoing and uphill battle against financial crime.

It’s good to know that what began as a response to the disproportionate influence of large financial institutions, has revolutionised a sector and handed back control and choice to the individual. And, even better, it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

But whether you’re an industry practitioner, an investor or just an enthusiast, how do you cut through the noise to find out what’s really important in the FinTech space? To help you out we’ve scoured the social media universe and picked some FinTech influencers who we think filter out the hype and get to the real story on what’s hot.

Xiaochen Zhang is a senior finance, investment and technology executive, building and designing transformative innovations in capital markets. Zhang is listed as one of the top 100 blockchain influencers by Lattice80 and he’s the President of FinTech4Good. He also serves as a founding partner of New Development Ventures, on the Crowdfunding Professional Association Board of Directors and UN ESCAP Digital Economy Task Force. Xiaochen has previously advised government agencies and multinational organisations on innovative finance in positions at the World Bank, United Nations, and other international partnership platforms.

Based in the UK, Devie is a FinTech industry advisor, analyst and expert, who in her spare time moonlights as an influential writer, speaker and commentator on FinTech. As co-founder and CEO of Burnmark, a FinTech research company, Devie has helped several banks, start-ups, innovation groups and investors understand trends in the FinTech industry. She’s a contributor to the ING group Think Forward Initiative and a board member of the Journal of Digital Banking. In 2019, Devie was included in the Financial Times’ list of the 100 most influential BAME leaders in technology.

Chris Gledhill is a top FinTech advisor, as well as an event speaker, author and futurist. Passionate about banking and the future of financial services, Chris was lead mobile architect and led the disruptive innovation labs at Lloyds Banking Group before becoming CEO and Co-Founder of FinTech Startup Secco. Chris has both a technical & business background with expertise spanning a wide range of disruptive technologies including Blockchain, AI, API, Big Data, Deep Learning, Virtual Reality, CryptoCurrencies, Biometrics, Mobile & Wearables.

Prof. Sally Eaves has been described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’. Sally brings a depth of experience from both Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer roles, as a Professor in Advanced Technologies and as a Global Strategic Advisor. She specialises in the application and integration of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and associated emergent technologies for business and societal benefit. A member of the Forbes Technology Council, Sally is an award-winning international keynote speaker and author. Sally’s social and tech-advocacy has led her to secure the Frontier and Social Impact award, presented by the United Nations in 2018. A believer in equal opportunity, Sally has founded Aspirational Futures to help skill and empower the next generation of talent into technological careers that are yet to be conceived.

David Brear, believer in always falling forwards, has led a successful career in FinTech. Currently, the CEO at 11:FS, a FinTech company that has grown from 5 to 150 in four years.  David is focused on changing the fabric of financial services, rather than making analogue financial services digital, David is dedicated to re-creating the financial industry and deliver truly digital financial services. From much experience in finance, David has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly. From this, he knows what is broken and where new opportunities live within the FinTech space.


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Chris Skinner is Non-Executive Director of 11:FS as well as an independent commentator on the financial markets. Writing daily blogs at, Chris consults about the future of FinTech and in his spare time moonlights as an author and event speaker on behalf of conferences and tradeshows.  Chris is an expert in investment banking, retail, payments and supply chain, authoring several books covering the future of finance in these sectors. His newest titles include; Digital bank and best-seller, Digital Human. Chris’ accomplishments extend so far as to judge the TradeTech Awards and contributor to the World economic forum on financial matters.

Dinis Guarda is listed as one of the top FinTech people in Blockchain, AI and social media. An author, speaker, serial entrepreneur, advisor, and experienced CEO, Dinis creates and helps build ventures focused on sustainable innovation through Blockchain, Fintech, AI and new emerging business models, such as ICOs and tokenomics. He has founded several companies – Ztudium being his most recent – and authored several books including Blockchain, AI and Crypto Economics – The Next Tsunami? and Tokenomics and ICOs –How to be good at the new digital world of finance Crypto.

Arun is a partner at Delphos International in the UK. He has spent the last few years in early and growth stage investing in technology startups. He sits on the board of several of his investee firms. He is a managing trustee at Aram Foundation, an NGO in India focused on Water conservation. 

Previous to his career in technology investments, Arun spent most of his career in Barclays and PwC within Data and Technology. In 2020, Arun published a book “Quantum Computing and Blockchain for Business”. He is the founder and podcast host at One Vision (one of the top 5 FinTech podcasts in the world). He was a blogger on DailyFintech, which is the second most read FinTech blog in the world, where he contributed over 150 posts over three years. 

Arun holds a Masters in Finance degree from the London School of Economics and a post graduate diploma in Global Business from Said Business School, University of Oxford.

Neira Jones advises organisations on payments, fintech, regtech, cybercrime, information security, regulations and digital innovation. With over 20 years in financial services and technology, Neira is a strong believer in change through innovation. Working as a strategic board advisor and non-executive director Neira additionally moonlights as a professional speaker and coach, advising others on payment security and cybersecurity due diligence.

Neira chairs the Advisory Board for mobile innovator Ensygnia and is an Ambassador for the Emerging Payments Association. Neira has been labelled as one to watch within the cyber-security and FinTech sector and has a long list of accomplishments to her name.

Peter Oakes is a qualified solicitor in Ireland, The UK, and Australia with over 25 years of experience working as a regulator and senior executive in investment management, payments, reinsurance, funds and fintech industries as a board member, c-suite professional, legal practitioner and compliance officer.

With a proven track record in transformational change, effective senior leadership, and experience working with international financial systems in both private and governmental/public sectors, Peter is a well-known and trusted financial professional. In his spare time Peter is a keynote speaker and media commentator reviewing regulatory risk, fintech and finserv industries.


For more insights into FinTech related topics, including how technology is being employed in the ongoing fight against financial crime, subscribe now to our regular blog, Financial Crime in Focus. It’s full of top stories, trends and statistics that are catching our eye, overlaid with our fresh perspective.

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