Nesta , a global innovation foundation, has announced the twenty Fintech firms that will participate in the Open Up Challenge. Nesta announced the competition this past February. The Open Up Challenge is a global search for organizations who would use new open banking Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The participants compete for a £5 million prize fund desgined to inspire the creation of next-generation services, apps and tools designed for the UK’s 5 million small businesses.
Nesta reports that the twenty Fintechs were selected by an independent judging panel. Each of these teams receive a £50,000 grant, fully funded technical and business support and access to the Open Up Data Sandbox, that is said to contain one of the largest anonymised UK banking transaction datasets ever made available. Nesta says there is an opportunity for them to win a share of a further £3.5 million if successful during the Challenge.
Participants are not just limited to startups as more established digital finance types were reviewed and selected as well. The Challenge is more about discovering innovative, data driven approaches that create value for UK businesses.
According to Nesta, a key theme is the use of advanced machine learning techniques to help small businesses make better financial decisions and to streamline routine finance processes that consume entrepreneurs’ time.
“We have been overwhelmed by the volume and quality of entrants for the Open Up Challenge. It’s encouraging to see how much energy and talent is focussed on Fintech innovations for small businesses,” stated Chris Gorst, Challenge Prize Lead at Nesta. “We now have twenty teams who we firmly believe can build next generation services that will transform small business banking. By supporting these teams with financial rewards, expert support and access to the Open Up Data Sandbox, we hope to play a part in revolutionising a sector that has been slow to exploit new technology and respond to customer needs.”
The Open Banking Ltd, the entity overseeing the development of the UK’s open banking standard, released this month the API specifications for account and transaction information and payments initiation, which will go live in January 2018. The Open Up Data Sandbox aligns with this specification and provides access to real anonymised data, an important tool for the participants.
Imran Gulamhuseinwala, trustee of the Open Banking implementation entity said that open banking is the catalyst for the acceleration of an entirely new market of financial services;
“From automating activity that currently takes valuable time away from businesses, to making access to credit and advice easier and smarter, it will revolutionise the way companies are run and grown. Nesta’s Open Up Challenge demonstrates the range and quality of innovations enabled by open banking and I look forward to seeing these develop into game-changing products for small businesses,” said Gulamhuseinwala.
The Open Up Challenge is part of a package of retail banking reforms which are recommended by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and aims to transform the way small businesses manage their finances. The Challenge is managed by Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, who deliver innovation through Challenge Prizes including the Longitude Prize and the Inclusive Technology Prize.
The List of the 20 Fintechs participating in the Challenge are below:
- Beyond Labs
- Bud Financial
- Coconut Banking
- Credit Data Research Ltd
- Fractal Labs
- Funding Options
- Funding Xchange
- Growth Street
- Handle by Bizfitech
- Iwoca Limited
- Ormby Street
- Solo – Smarter Freelancing