The fintech industry is running hot this year in the UK, according to stats from Innovate Finance. In just the first half of 2021, even as the world was fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, investments in fintech firms in the UK set a record for the year. Innovate/Fintech pointed to $5.7 billion in venture capital flowing across 317 deals.
That six-month period topped the $4.9 billion in investments in all of 2019, and the $3.6 billion in investments in 2018.
Globally, the UK trails only the US for Fintech investments. The companies included here are among the hot fintech startups as of mid-2021.
Moneybox is a London-based savings and wealth management app. Launched in 2016, it allows customers to invest the spare change from card payments, offering users a range of savings and investment products including Lifetime ISAs, personal pensions, savings accounts, and mortgage advice.
The platform currently boasts more than 600,000 customers and new users can open a savings or investment account from as little as £1. Moneybox also provides a separate app to allow users to open Junior ISAs on behalf of a child or relative under the age of 18. Any money saved or invested with Moneybox is protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
In July 2020, Moneybox secured £30 million ($37.6 million) in Series C funding and announced a crowdfunding campaign to bring its customers on board. The VC round was led jointly by Eight Roads and CNP, with participation from Breega and existing investors.
eToro is a social trading and investment marketplace that allows users to trade currencies, commodities, indices, and stocks. The platform was founded in 2007 to make trading accessible to anyone and reduce dependency on traditional financial institutions. Over the years, the brokerage has expanded its offerings into popular asset classes, including cryptocurrencies.
To date, eToro has raised $162 million in five funding rounds, with the latest led by China Minsheng Financial. According to IVC, other backers include Chemi Peres of Pitango VC, Guy Gamzu, and Chinese insurance giant Ping An. In August 2020, the company said the platform had tripled its secondary market valuation to $2.5 billion.
Bought By Many
Bought By Many is the UK’s biggest Insurtech company; it’s best known for pet insurance and wellness policies, such as covering pre-existing conditions. It was the first pet insurance provider in the UK to offer online claims and the first to offer customers free, unlimited access to video calls with registered vets.
Globally, Many Group now covers almost half a million pets and operates under the brand name ManyPets in Sweden and the US. Its fully digital insurance process, technology, and growing data bank enables fast decision-making and claims automation. Bought By Many also uses a bespoke API-driven policy admin system, allowing it to scale and launch new insurance products in as little as eight days.
At the start of June 2021, Bought By Many announced it had completed a $350 million series D funding round through its holding company Many Group. That gave it a valuation of more than $2 billion, propelling it to Unicorn status.
Canaree is a no-code financial modelling and forecasting tool designed to help founders, project managers, and financial managers keep their businesses on track. The software makes it simple for companies to manage their cash flow and get advice on financial processes.
Founded in 2019, London-based Canaree is one of the newer FinTech startups; it managed to raise £500,000 from the UK government’s Future Fund pandemic funding in July 2020. The platform has also been nominated for the Fintech Power 50 2021, which spotlights fintech companies transforming financial services.
Founded in London by four ex-Googlers in 2014, Thought Machine spent two years developing its VaultOS (now just branded Vault) core banking platform before unveiling it in 2016. Since then, it has forged high-profile partnerships with IBM, Atom Bank, and Lloyds Banking Group, which also invested £11 million in the company in 2018 in exchange for a 10% stake. No customers have announced that they are live with Thought Machine’s core banking platform yet.
CEO Paul Taylor was a research scientist at Google after his startup Phonetic Arts was acquired by the search giant. The company’s CTO, Will Montgomery, was a senior software engineer at Google before joining his fellow Cambridge alum at Thought Machine, and COO Matt Wilkins and CIO Peter Ebden are also both ex-Google employees.
Vault was built to be cloud-native, enabling cheaper and faster scaling as more customers come on board without the need for expensive in-house data centres and large operations teams. It runs on AWS, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
Thought Machine secured a $125 million Series B funding round in 2020, initially led by Draper Esprit with contributions from existing investors IQ Capital, Backed, and Playfair Capital. An extension of funding came in July from Eurazeo Growth.
Primer came out of stealth in early 2020 and is still only available to early-access customers; its aim is to consolidate various pieces of technology to allow payments across different methods and geographies, with analytics, anti-fraud, and compliance controls all baked in.
Founded by Paul Anthony and Gabriel Le Roux — past employees of PayPal’s own digital payment arm Braintree — the company has a good grasp of the area and looks to solve merchants’ problems through a single, consolidated API.
Primer raised £3.2 million in May 2020, led by Balderton Capital with participation from TransferWise founder and angel investor Taavet Hinrikus. That was followed by a further £14 million last November.
Founded by James Herbert in 2017, Hastee offers employees flexible access to up to 50% of their earned pay on demand via its app. Employees then pay back Hastee on each pay day, so Hastee takes all the risk and the employers’ cash flow is not affected. This allows workers to access their earnings more flexibly without impacting their credit score, as it is not a loan.
Employees can make one withdrawal of up to £100 every month for free; further withdrawals are subject to a 2.5% fee. The app also offers financial wellbeing advice to avoid inadvisable spending. Hastee integrates with most existing HR and payroll systems and customers include London City Airport, IRIS, Avery Care Homes, and food and beverage group Mitchells & Butlers.
Hastee raised an eye-popping £208 million in a funding round in December 2019 led by Umbra Capital and supported by IDC Ventures.
Founded in 2012, Currencycloud specialises in “embedded” cross-border payments, which means it has built an enterprise-grade API that allows partners like Visa, Standard Bank, and Starling Bank to easily offer customers cross-border payments.
Currencyloud raised a $80 million (£62 million) in a Series E funding round in January 2020 with investment from Visa, BNP Paribas, World Bank Group, Siam Commercial Bank, Sapphire Ventures, Notion Capital, Google Ventures, and Softbank’s investment arm (SBI).
Cheshire-based Mojo Mortgages combines its own algorithms with human mortgage brokers to help anyone seeking a mortgage to check their availability quickly online, compare offers from 90 lenders and then jump on a call with an advisor to hash out details. It also offers a free MortgageScore service online to help first-time buyers see where they can improve their chances of getting a loan. Mojo then gets 0.4% of the loan amount secured as a broker.
Mojo is entering a crowded space however, with digital brokers Habito and Trussle having first-mover advantage when it comes to digitising and simplifying the notoriously tricky UK mortgage process.
Mojo Mortgages raised a £7 million Series A funding round in February 2019, led by Maven Capital Partners and NVM Private Equity.
Based in Durham, Paid allows gig economy workers and freelancers to get paid as soon as work is completed instead of waiting for late invoices.
Founded by Tom Howsam in 2017, the product is still in private beta. Once you have agreed on work for a client, Paid will step in with an online contract guaranteeing payment within three days after completion of the project, with a 7.5% cut taken for the privilege of not having to chase an invoice. Paid will then wait on the client to complete payment in the background.
In its FAQ, Howsam explains: “[Paid is] an intermediary between you and your clients. Providing a wrapper round both parties to ensure that the process of working together is smooth. For you the supplier we make sure your contracts are watertight so there is total confidence your client is accepting the work you are proposing. As the project is carried out, we can cater for changes throughout making sure each change is also documented appropriately.”
In November 2020, Paid announced its £2.2m seed funding round led by top early-stage tech investors Crane Venture Partners.
Founded by William Goodwin, Georgia Stewart and Ben King, Tumelo wants to help investors make more socially responsible investments.
The Bristol-based company started with the idea of building a socially conscious investment app, allowing users to make investments in a portfolio of companies related to areas they are passionate about, be it climate change or diversity and inclusion.
After limited uptake, it has pivoted to providing data to existing investment advice providers — be that human financial advisors or online investment platforms like Nutmeg and Wealthsimple — to provide users with greater transparency into the ethical practices of the companies in their portfolios and empower them to use their shareholder power and perks.
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) dashboard and underlying API can be integrated into existing solutions by these companies as a value-add for their more socially conscious customers. It charges advisors a monthly fee for access to the dashboard and transparency API and is building a data service where it can show companies what their most engaged investors are passionate about.
“Users want transparency to show what they are actually investing in,” Goodwin told Techworld. “[Now] you can type in the name of your fund, and we can show all the underlying holdings of that so that people realise they are invested in companies and can start to engage and get their shareholder vote, campaign and get perks.”
Tumelo raised an undisclosed seed funding round through the Pitch @ Palace programme 2018.
Ever wanted to get in on the action when a hot tech company like Spotify hits the stock market? PrimaryBid aims to give public investors access to new share issues from European-listed companies at the same generous discount that institutional investors get. The FCA-regulated startup gets a percentage fee from the companies it raises for, so it doesn’t charge customers a commission.
Once a person is subscribed to the service, PrimaryBid will inform users of upcoming share offers at discounted rates. You can then buy between £100-100,000 of shares and have them transferred where you want. (Once the offering is gone, it is gone, and these are risky investments.)
Founded in London in 2015 by Anand Sambasivan, Kieran D’Silva, and James Deal, PrimaryBid raised £50 million in October 2020, co-led by UK venture capital firms Draper Esprit and Fidelity, alongside existing investors Pentech and Outward VC, among others.
Soldo started life as a consumer-facing fintech that provided multi-user spending accounts and pre-paid debit cards aimed at families, before pivoting to the business market as an expense management platform.
Founded by Italian entrepreneur Carlo Gualandri, Soldo now focuses on making it easier for businesses to hand out corporate spending cards, put restrictions on them as needed, and easily track and log all spending. It offers integrations to popular accounting software like Xero, Sage, SAP, and QuickBooks.
That pivot proved fruitful when the firm raised $61 million in a Series B funding round led by Battery Ventures and Dawn Capital, with participation from previous backers Accel and Connect Ventures, and some debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank in July 2019. Soldo went on to raise another $180 million in July 2021.
In the UK, it charges £5 for each plastic card issued or £1 for virtual cards, as well as up to £7 per card per month for the enterprise analytics and integrations and a 1% fixed rate for foreign exchange.
Credit Kudos is a challenger credit bureau founded in 2015 by Freddy Kelly and Matt Schofield after Kelly struggled to get credit upon returning to the UK after working overseas in the US.
The idea was to create a credit-scoring mechanism that takes in more current data on a person to give a fuller picture of their credit than traditional agencies, like Experian. “They are backward looking,” Kelly told Techworld, “so it misses a lot of information about people that paints them in a better light.” This can then be white labelled by other lenders to help them onboard and approve more customers.
Kelly said the enforcing of open banking regulations across Europe, through PSD2 and the UK’s own regulations, was “our inflection point to access this data.”