The 10 hottest fintechs to keep an eye on

The Open Up Challenge is a £5m ($6.7m) prize fund to inspire next generation services, apps and tools designed for the UK’s 5 million small businesses. Douglas Blakey looks at the runners in with a chance of bagging the first prize

The finalists have now been selected and 10 fintechs are through to the final stage of The Open up Challenge.

Backed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) with funding from eight of the UK’s largest banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, Santander, Allied Irish, Bank of Ireland and Danske) the Open Up Challenge is run by innovation foundation Nesta.

With unfortunate timing, news of the ten finalists coincided with confirmation that five of the UK’s largest banks, all backers of the Open Up Challenge, would fail to meet the Open Banking deadline.

The CMA said: “Five banks [Barclays, RBS, Santander and Bank of Ireland] told us that they would not be able to release all of these data sets by the specified date. We have therefore issued each of these banks with directions stipulating the timeline for the delivery of the outstanding data sets and the arrangements that each must make for reporting progress to the CMA in the meantime.”

Twenty startups participated in Stage 1 of the Open Up Challenge, each receiving a £50,000 development grant and exclusive access to the Open Up Data Sandbox.

The ten finalists each receive an additional £100,000 for developing products, assessed as most likely to have a positive impact on UK small businesses in 2018 and beyond.

Chris Gorst, Challenge Prize Lead at Nesta said: “The ten teams awarded a prize in Stage 1 demonstrated to the judging panel that they are using new technologies to solve real small business problems and have the potential to achieve impact at scale in 2018 and beyond.

“Useful innovation has been slow to come in small business banking, imposing real costs on the entrepreneurial economy and hitting small business productivity. But the UK is perfectly placed to make rapid progress, as a global leader in fintech and open data innovation.

“Open banking could radically reduce barriers for new players and models to emerge.”

The ten finalists battling it out for an additional £2.5m of funding are:



Bud aggregates financial services so small businesses and consumers can manage their finances in a single place - their bank account. It provides banks with the software that enables them to integrate third-party services and apps - such as investments, pensions, utilities etc - into their bank accounts, creating a financial hub for customers.



By providing tools into the accounting ecosystem, helps UK businesses avoid the trap of being left with limited, last minute choices, by changing their behaviour to move to a more considered search into its network of over 100 institutional lenders to find their match.



Coconut offers a current account for freelancers and the self-employed designed to manage their tax and track expenses to help them be paid on time. Coconut has launched its Beta for sole traders and uses Open Banking to target tax savings for its customers.

Credit Data Research


Active in five European markets, accessing 80% of the Europe’s SME segment, CDR is innovating credit scoring for SME’s. Using its Basel-compliant Credit Passport platform, leveraging credit behavioural data through Open Banking, increasing transparency and competition, CDR aims to accelerate the capital flowing to SMEs.



An intelligent cashflow engine, Fluidly plugs into accounting packages and bank accounts to predict and optimise business finances. Fluidly helps SME’s get paid faster with intelligent credit control, automated cashflow forecasting and spot financial opportunities.

Fractal Labs


Fractal is an automated financial assistant, helping SMEs manage cash and capital requirements. Fractal uses machine intelligence to predict and surface financial outcomes, and empowers business managers to easily connect with their banks and advisors in simple, natural language.

Funding Options


Funding Options gives SMEs the same levels of ease and speed that consumers take for granted when comparing financial services products. Funding Options claims to be the UK's leading online marketplace for business finance, each year raising £100m in SME finance from more than fifty different lenders.

Handle by Bizfitech


Handle is a small business dashboard designed to “supercharges your business bank account.” Handle enables SMEs to supercharge their bank account, so they can manage cash position, grow top line sales, compare and save money on key expenses and always be finance ready by taking control of their credit score.



Europe’s second largest alternative lender, iwoca offers small businesses fast, flexible and fair finance. Since 2012, iwoca has helped thousands of UK small businesses with loans totalling more than £250m.



Teller connects customers’ bank accounts with next gen apps, enabling users to choose the level of access they feel comfortable with, covering real production API’s for 11 high street banks.

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