Beyond London: How tech will revitalise the whole of Britain
If you thought paying for stuff couldn’t get any easier, you’re wrong.
Contactless bank cards already let you pay for things without having to enter your PIN, but soon you may not even have to reach for your wallet anymore.
Earlier this year Amazon filed a patent for technology that uses facial recognition to authorise payments.
The ‘pay by selfie’ method should make paying more secure. The logic behind it is that passwords and PINs make it easier to impersonate someone else as they’re arguably easier to steal.
Amazon is one of many big tech companies that has based part of its operations in Britain.
Last week I wrote about London becoming a global tech hub, but the truth is that the industry is booming across the whole country. It’s a UK-wide phenomenon.
Sure, London plays an important part in it. Tech giants Google, Facebook, and Apple are all expanding their activities in the British capital.
That’s great news. But what’s happening elsewhere in the UK is just as exciting.
Reading, Cambridge and Oxford are the cities outside London that have seen the highest increase in new tech companies.
Many cities across the North of England have seen exceptional growth in tech, which has helped boost their local economies.
In fact, the North West has become the second-largest digital cluster in Europe.
Britain’s tech revolution is by no means limited to London and that’s a positive development in many respects.
It’s unhealthy to rely solely on one city for economic success. Britain’s in desperate need to balance its economy and the tech industry is helping to create employment outside London.
An important reason why Britain’s tech industry is growing in many different places at once is because regions are specialising in different sub-sectors.
You’ve got biotech companies clustering around Cambridge, an autotech boom in the West Midlands, while fintech businesses are moving to London.
The fact that many top UK universities can be found outside the capital could play a role too. Graduates from universities in Manchester, Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol often attract the attention of Britain’s leading employers.
Tech companies could also be moving to different British cities because of London’s high rents. Renting an office in London may not always be affordable, especially for start-ups.
This, in turn, has caused property prices to soar in the cities with an exponential increase in tech companies.
In the past five years, the top ten tech hubs outside London have outperformed the UK average house price growth by up to 32%.
Another positive of tech firms flocking to places across the UK is that it could put a stop to London brain draining other British regions.
Young people who may have preferred to stay in their home towns have often been forced to move to London where the bulk of new jobs were created.
With more new jobs in other parts of the country, people can more easily decide to live and work near the place they grew up or went to university.
Building strong local economies is essential for Britain. Only if it diversifies its economy will it be able to weather future economic storms.
The Industrial Revolution heralded a very prosperous time in British history because the economy rested on more than one pillar.
Textiles in the North West, metal in the West Midlands, shipbuilding in the North East, flourishing harbours in the north and south all helped solidify the UK economy.
Let’s hope the technological revolution that is currently taking Britain by storm bodes equally well for the country.