Fintech, or financial technology, is the UK’s strongest startup sector, with more investment funneled into it than any other industry or vertical. A total of 1,373 fintech companies have hit at least one of our 8 tracking triggers since 2011, and collectively they’ve raised £14.9b in equity funding. These ambitious and innovative companies are driving real change for consumers and businesses alike. By unbundling financial services, these fintech startups and scaleups are providing more efficient and streamlined services, and posing a very real threat to traditional banking, payment, and lending services.
Of those 1,373 companies that are still active and operating in the private market, 71% are based in London—mainly the City of London and Westminster. Most of these 1,139 fintechs are in the seed (45%) and venture (34%) stages of evolution, indicating that this is a burgeoning sector with plenty of room for growth. An impressive 88% of companies secured investment since 2011 – significantly higher than the sector-agnostic average of 55%.
For the second year running, we’re profiling the top 50 startups and scaleups in the UK’s fintech industry, ranked in order of the amount of funds raised to date. Each writeup covers a snapshot of the company’s key information, financial products, business model, and areas of operation to provide a glimpse into how they are transforming financial services.
Total funds raised: £690m
Unicorn startup Revolut operates a challenger bank which offers a range of digital banking services through a mobile app. Since its launch in 2013, Revolut has facilitated over 350 million transactions worth over £40b, whilst serving over 9 million customers.
Users can open one of three accounts with Revolut: a free Standard account, a £6.99/month Premium account or £12.99/month Metal account. Opening any of these accounts entitles users to a free UK and EURO IBAN account, with the ability to spend in over 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate. Users are also able to exchange money in 30 currencies—standard account users are capped to exchange £5,000 per month, whilst paid users and unrestricted—with no hidden fees.
Premium and Metal account holders are also able to instantly exchange any 30 currencies directly into 5 cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and XRP. Revolut also provides budgeting tools, such as the ability to set monthly spending budgets and open saving ‘Vaults,’ into which regular amounts of money are stored, once salary has been earned.
Revolut made layoffs amidst the coronavirus crisis, but also secured an additional £62.4m funding in July 2020 from TSG consumer Partners.
Total funds raised: £637m
OakNorth Bank provides fast, flexible and accessible debt finance solutions to fast-growth businesses, as well as a range of deposit accounts.
OakNorth was initially created with the aim of providing a ‘bank for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs’ and is one of the most active lenders in the UK today. Since launching, it has lent over £4.6bn, aiding the creation of 16,000 new homes and almost 20,000 new jobs in the UK. It has also raised deposits from 175,000 savers, as well as being recognised on several high-growth lists such as Leap 100.
OakNorth Bank’s allows all borrowers the opportunity to attend credit committees where they can discuss their business’ growth plans and funding requirements, directly with the decision makers. These loans can also extend to acquiring property finance to support property developers and investors. In addition to loans, businesses can also choose from a range of business savings accounts, such as Fixed Term savings, Notice and Easy Access accounts.
OakNorth also provides a range of FSCS protected personal savings accounts to individuals, including fixed term, easy access and notice accounts.
Total funds raised: £482m
Atom operates a digital-only banking service, with all its services provided through its app. Atom has opted to diverge away from providing current accounts, instead offering savings accounts, mortgages and business loans to its customers. The movement away from current accounts, with no bank card issued, and the lack of any physical branch, has seen Atom differentiate itself from many of its challenger bank competitors.
Atom’s savings accounts, mortgages and business loans are all available through its app. Its fixed savings accounts range from three months to five years, with either monthly or annual interest. These accounts offer competitive interest rates, with the money saved from forgoing physical branches intended to provide these attractive rates. For instance, one year fixed savings accounts offer 1.5% annual interest.
Atom also offers mortgages, with advice provided by an independent broker to help customers obtain the best deal. Mortgage repayments can be monitored in real-time through the app. Thirdly, Atom’s business loans are offered to Limited companies, Limited Liability Partnerships, and Sole traders, with a maximum loan-to-value of 75% offered for commercial property investments.
Total funds raised: £444m
Monzo operates a digital-only bank that offers its customers current accounts and a range of banking and money management features.Users must create a mobile banking account through the Monzo app on iOS or Android. Monzo currently has over 3 million users and is fully authorised and regulated by the PRA and FCA. Monzo also has offices in Cardiff and London, with over 800 employees.
Monzo offers its customers a current account with no monthly fees and a prepaid Mastercard debit card. Current account holders can make instant UK payments and transfers, whilst also being able to set up flexible overdraft facilities and access loans through the Monzo app. Monzo also provides ‘Savings Pots’ that act as savings accounts, with users able to earn up to 1.4% AER on fixed savings. The savings pots also offer features such as roundups—which rounds up change to the nearest pound and adds this to the pot—and automated savings.
Monzo offers a number of other unique banking services and features. ‘Salary Sorter’ helps users to divide their spending, bills and savings into one organised place. Users can also spend overseas using the Monzo Mastercard, with no additional fees added to the exchange-rate. The first £200 of overseas withdrawals are also free for 30 days, with a 3% fee charged after this time.
Total funds raised: £401m
iwoca provides small businesses in the UK with short-term loans. Businesses can apply for a loan ranging from £1,000 – £200,000, with early-stage startups restricted to a maximum credit limit of £10,000. Most small businesses tend to use these loans for bridging short-term cash flow gaps and investing in stock opportunities.
A key feature of iwoca’s business is the ability for its technology to quickly and fairly assess the risk of a small business applying for a loan. An applying business’ company accounts, bank statements, and VAT returns are all used by iwoca to make a lending decision. Thus, a more holistic overview of the business’ performance is obtained, rather than solely using a credit score. iwoca also offers flexibility in its loan provisions, with an option to top-up a business’ loan, provided that a third of the original loan has been paid off and business performance continues to be strong. Interest rates on loans range from 2%-6% each month, with interest accrued daily.
Total funds raised: £329m
Paymentsense delivers face-to-face and virtual payment solutions to over 70,000 small businesses in the UK and Ireland. Its software also allows users to create and analyse sales reports to help businesses generate overviews and insights of their performance. Paymentsense processes over 250 million transactions per year, totalling over £10b worth of sales.
Paymentsense provides a range of face-to-face card payment machines: specifically countertop, portable and mobile card machines. The countertop machine is designed for payments made at the till, the portable machine can process payments made within a 100-metre range from the till and the mobile machine uses SIM card and GPRS connection, enabling the machine to be used anywhere.
Paymentsense also offers several virtual payment methods through its payment gateway, which acts as an online version of a physical payment machine. Three payment gateways are offered; Pay Online, where payments can be directly made through a business’ website at the checkout stage; Pay by Email, where a link is set up to generate payment through emails; and Pay by Phone, where a secure virtual terminal is set up which enables customers’ payment information to be entered into via phone.
Total funds raised: £317m
SumUp has developed a payment processing system that allows sellers to process payments using smart devices. Payments can be processed either through a payment link sent to the customer’s mobile device or through an attachable card reader.
SumUp offers three products. Firstly, the ‘SumUp Air Card Reader’ processes card payments by being paired with a mobile device. The Air Card reader accepts a variety of payment types including contactless, chip & pin, Google Pay and Apple Pay, giving customers flexibility.
As well as accepting payments, it also provides administrative features by tracking sales and taxes, and a digital cashier by keeping track of cash payments and digital receipts. The ‘SumUp 3G Card Reader’ offers similar services to the Air Card reader. With an in-built SIM card and unlimited data, payments can be processed anywhere, without the need for a paired mobile device or app. Thirdly, SumUp offers point of sale registers, which includes tablets, a cash drawer, receipt printer and SumUp Air to create traditional retail POS. Investors include Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital.
Total funds raised: £314m
WorldRemit operates an online money transferring service, which allows users in 50 countries to send money to recipients in 150 countries. WorldRemit prides itself on its quick transfer services, with over 90% of transactions authorised within minutes. The technology company serves over 4 million customers worldwide and has undergone international expansion, with 700 employees over 6 continents.
Various payment options are offered, including methods such as bank transfer, cash pickups from collection points, mobile money (an electronic wallet service), and door-to-door. Most of these options result in transfers arriving instantly, with door-to-door home deliveries operating 24/7, depending on location. WorldRemit charges a transfer fee for each transaction, which varies based on the amount and currency being transferred. Users have a number of options to pay this fee, including bank transfer, debit card and credit card.
Total funds raised: £305m
Another unicorn in the fintech sector, TransferWise has developed a platform that allows individuals and SMEs to transfer money abroad using real exchange rates. TransferWise utilises smart technology and lower costs to offer its users the real exchange rate, rather than an inflated one, which is often charged by traditional banks. In return for its services, TransferWise charges a transfer fee which varies depending on the amount required. Its money transferring services are also offered worldwide—TransferWise is available in 59 countries with £4b sent every month.
While TransferWise is a digital payments company like Paypal or Stripe, its main selling point is sending money abroad, with users able to lock in a favourable exchange rate for 24-48 hours. Many verification measures are set in place, with the identity of the sender, amount to be sent, and desired currency checked before transfers are issued. Customers are also offered a TransferWise debit Mastercard, which has zero foreign transaction fees and free ATM withdrawal fees worldwide.
Businesses can set up a bank account with TransferWise to benefit from sending, spending, and receiving multiple currencies with the real exchange rate. Business accounts are available for sole traders, SMEs and enterprise-level businesses who have monthly international payments of £200k or more.
The company has offices across the world, including Ukraine, Hong Kong, and Sao Paulo, as well as New York and Tampa in the United States.
Total funds raised: £297m
Another fintech unicorn, Checkout.com has developed software that allows businesses to process their payments online in multiple currencies. Checkout.com processes 150 different currencies and offers direct access to all major international cards whilst also accepting popular local payment methods. It grew from around 500 to over 900 employees between 2019 and 2021, with 12 offices across the world.
Checkout.com’s unified payments platform helps to manage every stage of the payment process. It offers businesses faster payment processing, by combining several separate payment technologies into one platform. It also accepts a variety of different payment methods, with direct access to Visa, Mastercard, American Express as well as popular alternative and local payment methods.
Checkout.com places a strong emphasis on security and implements a machine learning model trained to identify potentially risky transactions. These transactions are instantly blocked to prevent fraudulent activity and ensure payments are secure.
Total funds raised: £280m
Molo Finance is a relatively young fintech startup, founded in late 2016 and headquartered in Central London. The company is a mortgage lender that operates entirely online—the first of this kind in the UK.
Molo’s application is completely online, and can be completed in minutes. Users can apply for buy-to-let mortgage whenever and wherever. Molo also handles the actual lending, so there is no external decision maker or intermediaries involved.
The company will then value the property, verify ID, and underwrite mortgages digitally. Molo prides itself on quick turn-around times, even if a property needs physical valuation or if applications gets referred to one of their underwriters.
Molo had a successful 2020, raising the largest equity fundraising in Q4, totalling £266m from Andenes Investment, GPS Ventures, Macquarie Capital, Patron Capital, and Yabeo.
Total funds raised: £276m
Zopa is a global peer-to-peer lender, and has now launched a digital bank. In June 2020, Zopa was awarded its full banking licence. As it launches its next generation bank, Zopa’s ambition is to provide simple, fair products that are easy to manage and using its technology to provide a bank that’s fit for the future.
In less than six months of launching its bank, Zopa fully launched its Fixed Term Savings accounts and a credit card. The latest banking products sit alongside its wider suite of products including P2P investments, unsecured personal loans and secured car finance.
Borrowers are able to easily apply for a loan through Zopa online. Zopa offers borrowers personal loans of £1,000-£25,000 over a term of 1-5 years, with no penalties or fees charged for early repayment of loans. Additionally, Zopa calculates personalised rates for a loan using a ‘soft’ credit check, which gives lenders a window into a borrower’s debt history without impacting their credit history.
Total funds raised: £263m
Starling Bank is a fully licenced challenger bank, offering users several benefits such as instant notifications on spend and income, tools to identify spending habits and 24/7 support. Users’ money is also covered up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Starling Bank offers four main accounts: personal, joint, business and Euro. Its personal account has no monthly fees, with no charges made for making electronic payments, domestic transfers or ATM withdrawals. Users can also apply for bank overdrafts in-app, with interest of 15% EAR charged on amounts borrowed. The joint account is designed for individuals who share financial commitments and allows collective expenses to be managed and tracked. The business account offers features targeted specifically to businesses through its Starling Business Marketplace, such as accountancy software, credit facilities, insurance. The Euro bank account enables users to send, hold and receive Euros for free, with conversion from Euros to pounds (or vice-versa) conducted through the current exchange rate, with an additional 0.4% conversion fee.
Despite an additional £100m in funding across 2020, the challenger bank has not yet reached profitability, with losses doubling to £52m last year. Also in 2020, Starling launched mobile Cheque deposits, opened a third UK office in Cardiff, and launched its ‘Kite’ card for children.
Total funds raised: £240m
MarketFinance (rebranded from Marketinvoice in November 2019) is a fintech funder which provides quick and easy funding solutions for businesses. Since being established, MarketFinance has provided over £2.6b in funding to thousands of UK businesses. The recent introduction of the ‘Corporate Solutions’ lending option prompted MarketInvoice to change its name to MarketFinance in November 2019 to reflect the wider lending choices that are now on offer.
MarketFinance offers three lending options to businesses, including unsecured business loans of up to £250,000, over a 1-3 year term. MarketFinance’s risk engine technology calculates a tailored interest-rate for applicant businesses, starting at 0.75% per month, with businesses able to make repayments weekly or monthly. Businesses who have been trading for 24 months or longer and have a minimum annual turnover of £50,000 are eligible for this business loan. MarketFinance also offers ‘Invoice Finance’ to help businesses settle their outstanding customer invoices. Three invoice finance options are offered: selective invoice discounting (to fund specific invoices), confidential invoice discounting (to fund all outstanding invoices) and contract finance (to fund contracts, licences and retainers). MarketFinance’s most recent Corporate Solutions option provides larger SMEs, who have turnovers of £5m-£50m, with up to £5m.
Total funds raised: £198m
ezbob is a lending-as-a-service (LaaS) provider, offering digital lending solutions to lenders such as banks and financial institutions. ezbob initially operated as an online lending platform, lending directly to SMEs. It stopped its direct lending practices in 2017, however, to focus on providing solutions for lenders.
ezbob developed Catalyst+, a multi-purpose, modular lending software which uses open banking to run its lending-based platform. Catalyst+ facilitates easier integration of account information, thereby allowing lenders to access more data about prospective borrowers and make informed lending decisions.
ezbob’s software offers its client four main lending solutions. ‘ezbob smart onboarding’ ensures that users’ personal, banking and business details can be obtained through a streamlined mobile user interface. ‘ezbob risk’ is an automated risk decision engine which uses over 40 sources of data to provide a comprehensive overview of a customer’s information, which underwriters can easily access. ‘ezbob activation’ enables quicker processing of loans, with loan documents and transfers able to be quickly signed. ‘ezbob servicing’ provides customer relationship management systems to enable the ongoing servicing of customer loans and other issues.
Total funds raised: £164m
Capital on Tap develops an online service through which small businesses can receive access to credit. Since being founded in 2012, Capital on Tap has lent over £1b to over 65,000 businesses in the UK. Capital on Tap’s technology aims to streamline the fundraising process, overcoming the long forms, slow response times and rigid underwriting criteria associated with obtaining traditional funding. Whilst Capital on Tap is not a bank, it holds a regular licence that restricts its activities to business lending.
Capital on Tap offers SMEs business credit cards and business loans. The fintech’s business credit card offers a credit limit up to £50k, which can be spent on a credit card or transferred to the applicant business’ bank account. Up to 10 cards can be issued, with interest rates as low as 9.9%. To apply for a credit card, businesses must have a trading history of at least 12 months and an annual turnover of at least £24k. Capital on Tap also offers business loans up to £50k with flexible repayment options and no monthly or annual fees.
Total funds raised: £163m
ClearBank operates a clearing bank using cloud technology, serving the UK banking industry. Described by founder Nick Ogden as a ‘bank for banks’ ClearBank has two main functions. Firstly, to act as a clearing bank by processing payments across major schemes in the UK, including MasterCard, Visa and Swift. This clearing bank function is powered by Microsoft Azure’s cloud technology, which enables quick and inexpensive clearing services.
ClearBank’s second main function is to offer a core banking platform to FCA or PRA authorised financial institutions. Its platform consists of four main applications. Firstly, it offers account services – namely Operating, Client and Segregation Accounts – to enable financial institutions to hold their funds. It also offers internal processing solutions as well as connection to payment schemes clearing. Finally, it provides connectivity services through an API that seamlessly integrates with an institution’s core banking system.
Total funds raised: £162m
GoCardless develops a platform that allows companies to make and receive recurring payments through direct debit.
Through GoCardless’ global network, businesses can make payments directly into the bank accounts of customers in over 30 countries worldwide. Businesses are also able to collect payments in their customers’ currency, yet settle in the business’ own country using the real exchange-rate. Whilst there is no limit on how many transactions businesses can undertake, there are limits on the maximum amount that can be collected in one payment. This varies based on region; for example, a maximum of £5k can be collected from UK customers.
Due to the simplicity of GoCardless’ dashboard, the platform can be used by a wide range of businesses who collect recurring payments – often from overseas—including emerging startups and multinational corporations. GoCardless’ fees are deducted automatically from transactions and consist of 1% of domestic (UK) transactions and 2% of international transactions.
The company’s services are used by 50,000 businesses across the world, with offices in London, Paris, Munich, Melbourne, and San Francisco.
Total funds raised: £160m
Liberis provides small business finance in the form of a Business Cash Advance, which is subsequently repaid as a pre-agreed percentage of their customers’ credit and debit card transactions. The scalable repayment plan is designed to assist with cash flow for businesses still in the earlier stages of growth.
The company offers finance worth £2,500 to £300,000. The amount offered is calculated using a number of factors, including the applicant’s previous average monthly card takings and how long they have been in business. Funds are typically repaid in 4-12 months. Liberis do not charge interest, setup fees, or penalties, instead charging a one-off lending fee which is added to the balance borrowed. The total amount due is repaid as a pre-agreed percentage of each debit or credit card payment the applicant receives from their customers.
Businesses are likely to qualify for a Business Cash Advance if they have been in business for over 4 months and process at least £2,500 of credit and debit card transactions a month from their customers. Liberis has been featured in the Sunday Times Fast Tech Track high growth list for two years in a row.
Total funds raised: £157m
Tandem is a digital challenger bank that provides banking and money management services. The Tandem App is available on iOS and Android and offers its users money management assistance. The App uses Open Banking technology to pair its users’ bank accounts.
There is no limit on the number of accounts that users can pair to the app, with Tandem connecting to the most popular financial institutions in the UK. Once all of a users’ accounts are connected to the app, Tandem examines day-to-day spending, bills and standing orders to advise users on their spending. It also has an ‘Autosavings’ account, that boasts many features. The ‘Round Ups’ feature rounds up card payments to the nearest pound and saves the difference. It also offers customised savings features, with machine learning technology predicting how much a user can afford to save.
As well as these money management services, Tandem also offers credit cards and fixed savings accounts. Tandem offers two credit cards: a ‘Journey Credit Card’ and a ‘Tandem Cashback Credit Card,’ which both boast no fees for payments or cash withdrawals while abroad. Tandem’s fixed savers bank account also offers competitive rates, with annual interest payments with terms ranging from 1-3 years.
Total funds raised: £146m
Prodigy Finance operates a platform through which international postgraduate students can receive loans for studying abroad. Prodigy Finance works with over 500 schools globally, spanning across North America, Europe and Asia. Loans are offered for postgraduate programmes in the fields of Business, Engineering, Law, Public Policy and Medical. Since formation, Prodigy Finance has processed over US$500 million in funding to 10,300 students.
Prodigy Finance offers the opportunity for professional or high net worth individuals to invest in loans. Bonds are issued to investors on the Irish stock exchange, with a quarterly coupon payment, consisting of principal and interest, as students repay their loans. Prodigy Finance loans provide investors with the ability to diversify their portfolios.
One main benefit that students gain from a Prodigy Finance loan is that neither a co-signer or collateral are required. This is because Prodigy Finance’s unique credit model assesses applicants based on their future earning potential, rather than their credit history. Loans are also flexible, with students able to finance the specific amount they need, up to 100% of the loan. No early repayment fees are issued either.
Total funds raised: £144m
Sonovate develops software designed to help facilitate the financing and employment of contractors and gig-workers for recruitment agencies and consultancies. Following the 2008 financial crisis, traditional lending became increasingly lengthy and uncertain for SMEs. The company was born out of the idea to change this, and has simplified the process by providing upfront funding against unpaid invoices. Since 2017, Sonovate has funded almost £1b of invoices for recruitment agencies, consultancies and on-demand vendors in 39 countries.
To date, Sonovate has secured a whopping £144m in investment. The latest round of £110m was raised in September 2019, with contributions from Dawn Capital, Global Founders Capital, M&G Investments, and MXB Holdings. That same year former CTO of ASOS, Bob Strudwick, joined the fintech innovator as CTO. Sonovate has been using its latest investment round to advance its core product offering and launch into new international markets including Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.
Total funds raised: £128m
Rapyd develops a fintech payment platform that integrates many local payment capabilities into any application, enabling businesses to scale globally. Rapyd’s local payment processing system helps businesses to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions. Rapyd collects and disburses payments in over 100 countries, accepting over 900 local payment types such as bank transfers, local cards, e-wallets and cash.
Rapyd’s platform has four main functions. Rapyd Collect facilitates the collection of any payment across borders and currencies. It is able to accept payment types such as bank transfers, local ewallets, cash, and debit cards, with businesses able to maintain their existing card processing provider. The main benefit of this feature is that businesses can reach consumers who prefer to pay using their local payment methods. Rapyd Disburse simplifies cross-border payouts, enabling businesses to pay workers, customers and vendors across different international markets. Rapyd Issuing enables users to deploy and manage a multi-country card issuing program. All three of these functions can be connected to Rapyd Wallet, which acts as a personal financial hub for users.
Total funds raised: £127m
Nutmeg is a digital investment and wealth management firm. Investment management and financial advice experts help investors to build global portfolios through Nutmeg’s online investment platform.
Nutmeg’s wealth management process consists of three stages. Firstly, investors set the amount of investment they would like to make and their risk preference, to form an overall investment goal. Next, investors choose how they would like their money to be invested. They can choose from three investment styles, namely: socially responsible (portfolios that consider environmental, social and ethical companies), fixed allocation (portfolios designed to perform without intervention) and fully managed (portfolios that are proactively managed, with strategic adjustments made).
Investors can also choose whether all their capital is invested immediately or gradually. Finally, Nutmeg’s wealth management experts build a suitable portfolio based on the investment goals and desired investment style. Nutmeg’s customers are able to easily monitor and update their investment preferences using Nutmeg’s online platform, which can also be accessed through smartphone apps.
Total funds raised: £125m
Currencycloud has developed a global cloud-based platform which facilitates B2B cross-border payments.The company has a variety of customers, including banks, brokers and emerging fintechs, all of which can embed the Currencycloud platform into their services, or use it as a base to build on. Notable companies such as Revolut, Visa and Starling Bank, for instance, utilise the Currencycloud platform. Whilst initially launched and authorised in London, Currencycloud is also fully authorised and regulated in the EU, USA and Canada.
Currencycloud’s platform has four main functionalities. ‘Collect’ issues businesses with local accounts to ensure that their customers can be easily and quickly paid through local accounts. ‘Convert’ gives companies real-time access to wholesale exchange rates, resulting in low-cost currency conversion rates. ‘Pay’ provides a range of flexible payment options, including cost effective local payouts to over 35 countries. Finally, ‘Manage’ gives businesses control over their multi-currency account, with management features such as payment tracking and pricing management easing control.
Total funds raised: £123m
Founded by four former Google employees, Thought Machine develops security software for the financial services sector. The company’s core product, Vault, provides a cloud-based end-to-end operating system, enabling banks to centrally manage a range of financial and banking products. Since launching in 2014, it’s main mission has been to liberate banks from outdated legacy technology, which stifles their ability to innovate.
The company has secured numerous achievements. In November 2018, Thought Machine partnered with Lloyds Banking Group in return for an £11m investment, which came as part of a wider £18m funding round. In March 2020 Thought Machine secured £64.7m in equity fundraising led by Draper Esprit, with contributions from Backed VC IQ Capital Fund, Playfair Capital and Lloyds Banking Group.
In July 2020 the company secured an additional £32.6m from British Patient Capital, Eurazeo, and SEB Venture Capital—taking the total raised up to £123m. The company is planning to use this money to expand into the United States, Australia and Japan. In May 2020, Thought Machine announced it had been selected to join Mastercard Start Path—an industry collaboration which helps banks, merchants and startups to provide new technology solutions for the payments industry, and since then as partnered with companies such as Monese, Google Cloud, and GFT.
Total funds raised: £122m
Allica Bank operates a branchless bank targeted at both businesses and consumers, ran through an online banking platform and a network of local bankers. The bank is targeted specifically towards UK SMEs, offering account holders saving accounts, commercial mortgages, asset finance, and the expertise of a local relationship manager. Allica Bank also offers personal saving accounts to individuals.
The company traded under the name ‘CivilisedBank’ until December 2018, when it was rebranded as Allica Bank to reflect the bank’s repositioning as a digital-first offering. Allica secured its full banking authorisation in late 2019, and has made over £100m worth of committed loan offers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company raised its most recent equity investment in September 2020, totalling £26.0m from Warwick Capital Partners. This most recent funrdraising round works out at a £112m pre-money valuation.
Total funds raised: £113m
Receipt Bank develops accounting software that allows users to save and edit scanned invoices, bills and receipts through a mobile app. The documents can then be shared with accountants or synchronised with bookkeeping software, streamlining the accounting process for all parties. According to its website, the technology is now used by over 10,000 firms worldwide.
Coming up to its tenth birthday, Receipt Bank is currently in its growth stage of evolution and most recently reported a turnover of £18.6m. Its latest round of funding took place in January 2020, and saw £55m equity and loan finance funnelled into the company. This money has been earmarked to help the company expand into new markets across Europe and Asia. The raise was led by Insight Partners with participation from Augmentum Fintech and existing investors, Kennet Partners and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The total amount raised by Receipt Bank now stands at £113m.
Total funds raised: £109m
LendInvest operates an online peer-to-peer lending marketplace for property financing and investing. It provides opportunities for individuals, corporates and financial service institutions to invest in property-backed loans to property investors and developers. Since launching, LendInvest has facilitated over £1.5b in property loans to borrowers, resulting in the construction and renovation of over 50,000 properties across the UK. All loans issued through LendInvest are secured by a legal charge against the property.
Both individual investors and institutional investors are able to invest in property-backed loans through LendInvest. Investors must have at least £5,000 in their online wallet, with a minimum investment of £100 required for each investment opportunity. Investors receive interest on their loans every month, with interest calculated daily. Loans are also usually split into two tranches, A and B, with Tranche B loans being more risky and thus attracting a higher return than Tranche A loans. Usually, LendInvest loans are sought by SMEs as they tend to seek flexible short-term finance to develop or renovate their property projects. In assessing a borrower’s eligibility to apply for a loan, LendInvest checks a borrower’s credit history and property experience.
Total funds raised: £100m
Pollinate develops software which aims to improve merchant acquiring for banks by integrating into their current systems, and provides merchants with digital tools and insights into their business.
Pollinate has developed an end-to-end solution that connects merchants with their banks through cloud-based technology. On their Pollinate portal, merchants can access transaction history and real-time business analytics. Pollinate aims to be a ‘one stop shop’ for SMEs, offering financing options, marketing tools, and facilitating payments.
The SaaS fintech has climbed straight to 31st place following a large equity investment of £70.0m in September 2020. The fundraising was contributed by Mastercard, EFM Asset Management, Motive Partners, National Australia Bank, and NatWest. In 2020 Pollinate formed a partnership with stakeholder Mastercard, deepening their product, business, and marketing collaboration, serving SMEs together across the world.
Total funds raised: £91.0m
Tide provides a mobile-based current account for small businesses. Whilst Tide is not a bank, the Tide current account is powered by Prepay Solutions, which has FCA authorisation. Everyday banking services can be undertaken through the Tide app, with application for an account taking as little as five minutes.
The Tide account is intended to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs with a range of time-saving and cost-cutting tools, and redirect effort towards growing their business. A free business mastercard is issued with each account, which can be used to purchase goods and services with no purchase fees. Transactions are also automatically categorised, ensuring accounting records for specific types of purchases can be easily kept. Invoices can also be easily created, paid and stored through the Tide app.
A key feature of Tide, which small businesses benefit from in particular, is the lack of monthly or annual fees. Instead, users are only charged for what they use, with 20p charged per bank transfer in or out and each cash withdrawal costing £1. In 2020, Tide partnered with companies such as DueDil and GoCardless to collaborate and enhance the account opening experience and help SMEs receive payments quicker.
Total funds raised: £89.9m
10x Banking develops an open banking platform, powered by cloud-native technology, for the financial services industry. 10x Banking’s name is derived from their desire for their platform to provide banking services that are 10 times better than traditional banking methods; specifically 10 times better for the bank, its customers and for society. The heart of 10x Banking’s platform is the ‘10x SuperCore’ which is a system that powers the platform and ensures customer data appears only once on the platform, thereby enhancing security.
The 10x Banking platform offers a range of benefits to its client banks. For instance, the platform helps banks undertake easy product creation and deployment, ensuring the quick rollout of products to the market and reduced product development costs. The platform also eases banks’ client onboarding processes, by creating real-time customer records that can be easily accessed. 10x Banking’s client data is also highly secure with built-in risk analytics capabilities and encrypted data.
Total funds raised: £89.0m
Moneyfarm operates a digital wealth and asset management platform. Moneyfarm places a large focus on providing customised investment portfolios to its clients, which they can easily access digitally.
Before being matched with a portfolio, investors are asked a series of questions regarding their risk preferences, wealth status and financial understanding, and are assigned an investor profile. Then, a customised portfolio that aligns with the investor profile is built and managed by asset allocation experts.
Investors can easily set up a Moneyfarm account online provided they are a UK, Italian or German resident. A minimum investment amount of £500 is required, with Moneyfarm advising its investors to have £2,500 in their account to ensure a good mix of investments in their portfolio. All portfolios contain a mixture of asset classes and a range of individual exchange traded funds (ETFs). Each portfolio is also ranked 1-7, with 1 being the least risky and 7 being the most. In 2020 the company reached £1b in total assets under management.
Total funds raised: £59.8m
Monese has developed a mobile app that allows those who might typically struggle to open a bank account—due to lack of credit history, proof of address or guaranteed regular income—to do so quickly and easily. Examples of applicants include students, freelancers, expats and foreign nationals.
The idea behind Monese was devised by the company’s founder Norris Koppel, after he encountered difficulties when he moved to the UK from Estonia. Without any UK credit history or proof of address in the form of utility bills, he was ineligible for a bank account via traditional means, making it near impossible to receive his salary or rent an apartment. Monese was subsequently launched as the first 100% mobile account in the UK.
Monese provides users with a UK bank account and a MasterCard contactless debit card as part of the service. They also offer Eurozone accounts and cards, which users can have in tandem with their UK account. Applicants need only be over the age of 18 and live in the European Economic Area (EEA), regardless of their citizenship or financial history. To encourage uptake, they offer financial rewards to users who refer a friend, and also to those who have been referred.
Monese employs over 200 people across its offices in London, Tallinn, Lisbon and Berlin.
Total funds raised: £84.6m
Salary Finance provides financial wellbeing benefits to employees, whilst instilling financial education. Its salary-linked employee benefits are designed to help employees manage their debt, develop wise savings habits and gain access to earned pay. With employees receiving this financial assistance, employers can benefit from improved employee engagement, employee retention and productivity levels. Thus, Salary Finance’s models aim to mutually benefit employees and employers alike.
Salary Finance partners with employers and provides four main types of salary-linked financial benefits to employees. Firstly, Salary Finance’s ‘Advance’ benefit gives employees access to 50% of their earned income, with up to three withdrawals permitted a month. No interest is charged on accessing earned income early, with a salary deducted fee imposed instead.
Secondly, Salary Finance offers employee loans through its ‘Borrow’ benefit. Repayments are collected through salary deductions, reducing the risk of loan default. Thirdly, the ‘Help to Save’ benefit helps employees earn working tax credits and other tax bonuses with Salary Finance ensuring the requisite savings are deducted from employees’ salary. Fourthly, Salary Finance offers a salary-linked savings account through its ‘Save’ benefit, with money automatically transferred to the savings account before the salary reaches an employee’s bank account.
Total funds raised: £83.2m
Habito is both a mortgage broker and a lender, enabling consumers to compare, apply for, and track the progress of their mortgages centrally via the Habito website. Using an algorithm, the company searches across 90 separate mortgage lenders to find the right deal for the customer, and offers users a dedicated mortgage expert who provides ongoing support during the application process, via live chat.
Unlike traditional comparison sites, Habito shows the likelihood that a customer will be eligible, and applies for the mortgage on behalf of the customer. A key selling point of Habito is that it doesn’t charge customers any fees for the mortgages it arranges: instead, it makes its money purely through the procurement fee paid by the lender. Habito also has its own range of products, from mortgages to life insurance.
Habito has climbed five positions this year, following a £35.0m equity and loan fundraising in August 2020—invested by Atomico, Augmentum Fintech, the Future Fund, Moio Capital, Mosaic Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and SBI Insurance Group.
Total funds raised: £77.1m
ComplyAdvantage provides an online database that details information on individuals and organisations associated with financial crime, such as money laundering and financing terrorism. Using its database, companies can get a comprehensive understanding of the risky businesses they are working with, allowing them to conduct proper due diligence before deciding to work with a prospective client.
ComplyAdvantage separates itself from existing solutions in the marketplace which rely on manual labour to input and update data. These existing systems can take months to review and update data, which results in false-positives and allows recently sanctioned entities to slip through the net. By contrast, ComplyAdvantage uses a radically different technical architecture, leveraging data science and machine learning to understand risk computationally. Data is then reviewed manually, but the preceding processes enables results to be updated in minutes as opposed to months.
ComplyAdvantage has been named in numerous high growth lists, most recently the Deloitte Fast 50 in 2019 and the Fast Track Tech Track 100 in 2020.
Total funds raised: £77.0m
Paddle is an all-in-one revenue delivery platform, aiming to help companies—particularly in the SaaS sector—scale and grow. The SaaS sector has seen meteoric growth over the past decade, but payment, compliance, and data governance infrastructure has struggled to match its pace. Paddle aims to remove the friction for scaling SaaS companies by running everyday tasks and removing complexities.
The Paddle platform can manage a range of tasks and features: subscriptions and renewals, financial compliance, billing, currency exchange, and tax, and more. It also offers customer support and business analytics.
The company secured an impressive £51.4m equity fundraising round in November 2020, in return for a 20.3% stake. Investors in this most recent fundraising round were Kindred Capital VC, 83North, FTV Capital, and Notion Capital. Paddle will use this capital to invest in its marketing, product, sales, and engineering teams. It is also looking to accelerate global expansion in the near future, particularly in US markets.
Total funds raised: £71.7m
Quantexa, one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK of 2020, is a cybersecurity firm that develops technology using artificial intelligence and big data software. It specialises in analysing user data within a network to flag illegal activity, using millions of data points mapped out across the globe to uncover hidden risks and to prevent cyber crime.
The company secured its largest round yet in July 2020, totalling £50.8m from AlbionVC, ABN AMRO Ventures, Accenture, British Patient Capital, Dawn Capital, Evolution Equity Partners, and HSBC Enterprise Fund.
Quantexa now employs over 250 people with offices in London, New York, Boston, Canada, Belgium and Sydney. It has attended both the Microsoft ScaleUp (London) accelerator and Tech Nation’s Future Fifty accelerator. Most recently, The company appeared on the Fast Track Tech Track 100 in 2020, and The 2021 edition of The Regtech 100.
Total funds raised: £66.1m
Azimo has developed an online payment processing system that allows individuals to send money internationally in over 200 countries to bank accounts, mobile phones or cash pick-up locations. The payment system can be accessed via the Azimo website, or its app. In order to transfer money quickly, Azimo holds funds in a number of currencies around the world, ensuring that funds are instantly available when requested.
Azimo was founded in 2012 by Michael Kent—also the co-founder of Tandem bank—who envisioned a means by which technology could be used to make financial services affordable and available to all. Since then, the company has expanded into the corporate market with Azimo Business.
In 2020 Azimo launched in Australia and partnered with Siam Commercial bank to facilitate money transfers to Europe. The company also secured an additional £17.0m in loan fundraising from European Investment Bank in 2020, taking its total fundraising amount to £66.1m.
Total funds raised: £64.5m
Wagestream is an app through which employees can access their pro-rata earnings whenever they need them, rather than wait for a monthly salary payment. As the salary is earnt in real time, there is no lending-aspect to the money provided, and the only cost payable by the employee is a nominal processing fee of £1.75 per withdrawal. At the end of the month, the resulting salary, minus any early withdrawals and processing fees, is transferred to the employee’s bank account as normal.
Through providing employees with greater control over their cash flow, Wagestream aims to eliminate the need for incurred overdraft fees, credit card debt and payday loans, and ultimately alleviate the financial stress caused by traditional pay cycles. Due to the organisation’s altruistic aim to increase employee financial health and wellbeing, it is backed by charities such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Social Tech Trust.
Since it was founded in 2018, the company has raised £64.5m across two funding rounds, through a mixture of debt and equity fundraising.
Total funds raised: £63.0m
DivideBuy has developed web-based software that provides a credit lending payment option for retail businesses. Following a credit check via a ‘60 second’ online form, the customer can choose a monthly payment schedule to suit their budget, with plans ranging from 3-12 months for items between the value of £150 and £3,500.
By including DivideBuy as a payment option on websites, orders become more accessible to the retailer’s customer, which encourages the likelihood of purchase, and increases the customer’s average order value. The software currently integrates with Magento, Woo Commerce, Shopify and Craft Commerce. It has also recently added a ‘soft search’ facility in addition to a ‘hard credit check’, so as not to affect unsuccessful customers’ credit scores.
The Newcastle-based business recently appeared in the top 3 of Deloitte’s Fast 50 2019 high growth list, and then went on to place first in 2020—the only company in the top ten based outside of London.
Total funds raised: £62.1m
Brightpearl provides retailers and wholesalers with an entirely cloud-based, automated back-office solution. This solution includes everything needed to streamline the back office and grow efficiently, from order management, replenishment, financial management, inventory, warehousing, and more. The idea behind this is that if they automate back office processes, merchants can then spend their time and money growing their businesses.
The back office solution includes further services like financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfillment, warehousing and logistics. In addition, Brightpearl has high-performing connectors to the major ecommerce platforms, including Magento, BigCommerce and Shopify. Over 1,200 businesses in 26 countries use their platform, which manages over 10 million transactions and $3b of business a year.
Brightpearl’s US headquarters is in the heart of downtown Austin with a global headquarters in Bristol, UK. Its most recent fundraising amounted to £24.4m in December 2020, invested by Cipio Partners, Notion Capital, Sage, and Verdane Capital.
Total funds raised: £61.5m
Curve allows users to connect their accounts to one smart card, which is linked to a smart app. Users can load all of their Mastercard or Visa debit and credit cards to the Curve app, and spend from any of these cards using just one Curve Mastercard. To spend from a specific card, users must activate it through the Curve app, with the card then being active and able to be used. Curve is currently available in 31 countries across the European Economic Area.
Curve boasts a number of features which can help users make payments. For instance, Curve users are only charged the market currency exchange rate when purchasing items overseas, saving up to 5% on exchange fees usually charged by major banks.
Curve’s ‘go back in time’ feature allows users to switch the card used for a payment made within 14 days. This reversibility aims to rectify any issues caused by making payment with the wrong card. Curve users also benefit from intelligent fraud protection, with instant alerts received and the user’s app locked whenever a fraudulent payment is detected.
Total funds raised: £61.0m
Soldo operates a banking and expenses app for businesses. Users can each have their own individual card and spending limits, but all expenses feed into a central account overseen by the employer. As part of the package, Soldo offers prepaid Mastercard cards linked to the account.
In addition, spending rules, budget limits and team grouping permissions can be set on the individual level, but can be accessed and amended centrally by the employer. The idea is to provide greater ease of reconciliation associated with a single expense account, while maintaining the freedom and ease of use normally associated with individual bank accounts.
The software can integrate with the employer’s accounting system via an API, which sends transactions daily via an automatic bank feed. The feed can also include enriched transaction data such as receipts, which can be captured within the app itself.
Along with their headquarters in London, the Soldo team also works across offices in Dublin, Milan and Rome. Soldo is currently used by over 60,000 businesses, including Monzo, Nested and Gymshark.
Total funds raised: £56.1m
TrueLayer enables companies to capitalise on new Open Banking initiatives in the UK, and the broader, European wide PSD2 rules, by providing secure, clear and simple access to banking infrastructure. Using TrueLayer, developers can quickly meet security requirements, comply with their regulatory obligations, and gain access to data and payments, allowing them to focus their resources on developing innovative products and services.
Bank data is a fundamental building block that developers need in order to create innovative consumer and SMEs applications across a multitude of areas including payments, online lending, PFM, robot-advisors, insurance, investment services, p2p marketplaces, and cryptocurrencies. True Layer makes all this possible with both their data and payment APIs, allowing companies to access this information in a secure and efficient way.
TrueLayer was featured in the high-growth list Fintech 50 in both 2019 and 2020, along with the London Tech 50 in 2020.
Total funds raised: £54.5m
Moneybox is a mobile app-based fintech that allows users to access shares and saving accounts. Available accounts include investment ISAs, Lifetime ISAs, Personal Pension accounts, and more. Moneybox is mobile-first, but savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Moneybox has raised £54.5m in total from investors Crowdcube, Eight Roads Ventures, Oxford Capital, Samos Investments, Breega Capital, Open CNP, and Perscitus LLP. £37m was raised in 2020 alone, including £7m from a successful Crowdcube crowdfunding campaign.
In 2020 the company launched a variety of additional features, such as a personal pension saving service and a “pension detective” service which tracks down old pension pots. Moneybox featured on LinkedIn Top Startups UK in 2020, and in the same year secured the seventh spot on Deloitte’s Fast 50—growing its revenue at an average rate of 5,270% over the past four years.
Total funds raised: £52.4m
Formerly trading as AfforditNOW, etika offers financing alternatives to online retailers, allowing them to offer their customers more affordable purchase terms. etika places an emphasis on social responsibility and making fairer finance more accessible around the world, helping retailers to provide more flexible lending options and real-time lending decisions for customers.The company rebranded as etika in 2019, previously trading as ‘Paybreak’.
etika has raised £52.4m in total across five rounds, from investors Paragon Bank Business Finance and Shawbrook Business Finance. To date, it employs just over 50 employees in offices in Manchester, Melbourne, and Sydney.
Total funds raised: £50.5m
Blockchain.com has developed a range of products enabling users to exchange and transact cryptocurrencies (including bitcoin and ether), search and verify transactions, and analyse bitcoin prices, news and information.
Their product offering includes: Wallet, an app through which users can send, receive, store and trade cryptocurrencies; The PIT, an advanced crypto currency exchange platform through which users can trade cryptocurrencies at greater speeds; Blockchain Markets, a platform or ‘portal’ through which users can trade and store cryptocurrencies, and explore the crypto market; and Lockbox, a crypto hardware wallet that can also be used as a security key and a means to authorise transactions. The company also offers a number of open-source APIs from their website that can be used by developers to create bitcoin apps.
Furthermore, Blockchain.com has its own subsidiary, Blockchain Ventures, a venture capital fund that supports and invests in distributed ledger technology.
Total funds raised: £48.5m
PrimaryBid develops an online platform that allows private investors to purchase shares in publicly traded companies, targeting the market of ‘retail’ instead of ‘professional’ or institutional investors. This demand grew throughout COVID-19, as the number of institutional deals slowed and companies looked further afield to find investment opportunities.
The company received one of the largest fundraisings of October 2020, totalling £38.3m invested by ABN AMRO, Draper Esprit, Fidelity International, LSE, and previous investors Pentech and Outward Ventures. Overall, the company has raised £48.5m across seven rounds.
Moving forward, PrimaryBid will be investing into making new hires, developing its technology, growing partnerships and expanding internationally. At the end of 2020, Sifted ranked the company as the second fastest-growing scale-up of last year.