Fintech makes the world go around


June 12, 2019  2:38 PM

Currencycloud takes Lego approach to payments infrastructure: Fintech Interview 22

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

Cross border payments fintech Currencycloud is offering emerging financial services firms the ability to build a payments infrastructure through its own version of Lego.

Its API based service, which sits in the Amazon Web Services cloud is broken into payments infrastructure modules, each with its own API.

Stephen Lemon, founder and VP corporate development at Currencycloud worked as a foreign exchange broker in the late 90s.   This was before fintech but during a period of time when companies were trying to compete with certain business lines of banks, by offering a better service at a lower cost. HiFX, where he was founding team member, was doing just that in the foreign exchange market with a telephone based service.

In 2006 he left and set up a recruitment business for financial services and through that was introduced to Nigel Verdon, who at the time was looking for partners with experience in the foreign exchange sector as part of a plan to build a technology based business.

By 2008, with Lemon on board, they began to look at the opportunity that technology offered.  It all began with a philosophical debate about why it is so expensive to transfer money across borders “We both questioned why it was more expensive to send £100,000 to the US than it is to send a package via UPS” said Lemon.

The answer was that the process involved is traditionally very complex with a lot of moving parts. For example you need mechanisms to collect one currency, convert it into another; you need a mechanism to manage the pricing so you can derive a revenue stream; then there are a lot of things related to compliance; as well as the need for a banking network to distribute payments.

It was 2009 when the team started building what eventually became Currencycloud. “The idea behind this was that if you automate as much of the business process as you can you can streamline the process, reduce your overheads, and pass on efficiencies to the end customer,” said Lemon. “We have built a platform that one level takes that entire transaction lifecycle with all modules and put it in one place.”

Each module has its own set of APIs and people building finance firms can use Currencycloud as, what Lemon describes as, “payments lego.”

At the time the idea for Currencycloud was spawned other financial markets such as equities had already gone through changes that had reduced huge processing fees as a result of the introduction of technology. But for cross border payments nothing had emerged.

“We started building this thing called a platform, which in 2009 was quite a new thing,” said Lemon. And it was not easy. “This was before venture capital and fintech took hold in London so we had to do it on a shoestring,” he added. “The early years of the company was hard work.”

But by 2012 the company had completed its first meaningful fundraising series, which included some high profile investors such as Anthemis Group, which gave the company credibility, according to Lemon. This is when things really started moving, said lemon with a new management team put together including a CTO, as well as marketing and sales teams.

“We were the only company at the time offering foreign exchange and payments capabilities behind an API

Such a platform as a service, which according to Lemon are commonplace, was not available anywhere else at the time.

The service was offered to new financial services companies. These are the kind of companies known today as fintechs, but the term wasn’t used back then.   “Fintech was mentioned but New Finance was a more common title.”

Companies like Azimo, Transferwise were coming to the world, which were early users of the API. “We were very fortunate at the time that the fintech wave was happening and we were maturing,” said lemon. “We spent the following years growing our presence in fintech.”

Customers today include Travelex, Standard Bank of South Africa, Monzo, Starling, and Revolut, About $1.5bn a month in transactions goes through its platform.

The company also boasts software giant SAP and Google as investors through their venture funds.

Its APIs are available to any company. They can be tried out with no charges unless users want to put them in production.

“We decided our APIs shouldn’t be secretive and opened them up to everyone. But if you wanted a live API in a production environment you had to have a commercial relationship with us,” said Lemon.

Everything is available online for developers in its dev centre. “Everything you need is available such as APIs and software development kits.

This open approach generated customers. Lemon said fintechs began building products using the Currencycloud APIs. “They were coming to us telling us they had built prototypes and now need commercial relationships so they can sign customers.”

“The stack of technology used to provide payments capability is undifferentiated so why spend money and mental bandwidth  re-inventing the wheel

Currencycloud now has about 200 staff globally, with its headquarters in the UK. It has an office in New York, a dev team in the Ukraine. About half the company’s employees are IT specialists. It has an EU wide licence, which Lemon said will continue to be the case post-Brexit. It is also licence in every state in the US, which Lemon described as a very expensive and time consuming position to get to

Currencycloud does not get involved in monetizing the service its financial services clients provide but charges through a software as a service model.

Read the previous fintech interviews

Part 21 Tandem, Part 20 TinkPart 19 Goldex,  Part 18 AzimoPart 17 YoyoPart 16 BudPart 15 PrevisePart 14 FinastraPart 13 InstaReMPart 12 EucapsPart 11 AimBrainPart 10 MenigaPart 9 TrueLayerPart 8 InvestCloudPart 7 ClauseMatchPart 6 Rebuilding Society, Part 5 HonchoPart 4 AkoniPart 3 WriskPart 2 CreditLadderPart 1 Taina Technology

June 10, 2019  10:02 AM

London Tech Week role heightened as London needs a showcase to give clarity amid Brexit haze

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

Not strictly fintech but worth a plug is London Tech Week. The annual tech event, in its sixth year will see over 200 events held right across the capital, during the week.

After all as part if it today (Monday 10 June) will see the launch of the Fintech Alliance, which was announced in April by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Fintech Week. The aim of the Fin tech Alliance is to create a go to place for anyone that wants to know more about the UK fintech scene.

I caught up with Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates and Tech Global Advocates to discuss this year’s event. Tech London Advocates is one of three founding partners of London Tech Week, alongside Informa and London & Partners, so there are few better paled people to discuss it with.

The main trade show is being held at Excel and a large number of events being held across London.

It all kicked off this morning at Here East on the Olympic Park. The technologies set to take centre stage, according to Shaw include fintech as well as what he described as “deep tech” covering technology like artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and machine learning. He added there will also be events during the week covering healthtech, cybersecurity, blockchain, 5G as well as creative tech.

“We are going to be covering lots of tech verticals which for me is a reflection of the strength of the London tech ecosystem,” he said.

Beyond the tech itself, one area where London needs to ensure it focusses is ensuring there is enough talent to fuel potential growth. To this end there will be a lot of attention paid to this during London Tech Week.

“There will be events about how we can attract more overseas talent, which is more important than ever due to Brexit,” said Shaw. Professionals from EU countries will no longer have free movement into the UK after Brexit, which is already putting skilled people and investors off. Convincing them to continue to come and adding more people from outside the EU is necessary if London is to reach its potential.

And it is not just about numbers. Shaw said: “One on my main worries for out tech sector is whether we have enough diversity of talent.”

On Brexit he said that London Tech Week is important to help showcase what is going on in London as the current uncertainty about Brexit is confusing. “I was recently in Tokyo, launching Tech Japan Advocates, and there is a lot of confusion overseas about Brexit. I mean we are confused so imagine how people overseas feel?”

“But Brexit or no Brexit we have a really strong and vibrant tech sector,” added Shaw.

He said there is a large delegation of tech leaders from Japan, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan attending some events at London Tech Week. “We want to make sure we roll out the welcome and encourage them to think about expanding their businesses here.”

This focus on attracting international business is a sign of maturity for an event which started out with a tech startup focus.

“We still do a lot in respect with startups and we try and get more involved. But in the past few years it has grown in size and more international visitors come and see and feel what is going on here,” added Shaw.

When it comes to getting the message out “here”, in London that is, organisers want to showcase more of London itself involved. Shaw said he is keen to see all parts of the city involved and not just the usual suspects like Shoreditch.”

“London’s tech sector is all over the city and not just in Shoreditch, it is out in Stratford, the knowledge quarter in Kings Cross and Westminister. The event has spread all over the city which is something that has evolved over the years,” said Shaw.

Shaw suggested Theresa May, who is stepping down as Prime Minister, will be involved during the week.

See what’s on and where here.


June 6, 2019  10:12 AM

HSBC drops Connected Money and integrates best features to main mobile banking app

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

HSBC is turning off another of its pioneering fintech apps and integrating the most popular parts into its main mobile app.

The bank is taking the popular parts of its money management app, Connected Money, and integrating them into its main mobile banking app.

Connected Money will be turned off from September, with the first phase of features to be integrated with the main HSBC mobile banking app currently under development, and are due to be released towards the end of the year.

The money management app was launched in May last year and HSBC said that features which help people manage money and achieve goals have been most popular.

For example a feature, known as Balance After Bills, has proven popular. It helps users understand how much money they have left in their HSBC UK current account until payday, once Standing Orders and Direct Debits have been taken into account.

“User insights and feedback have been a key driver of Connected Money’s successful evolution, and the time is right to start integrating these intuitive learnings and experiences into our core mobile banking app,” said Raman Bhatia, head of digital bank at HSBC UK.

“What customers love the most about the app is the insights it can give them about their spending, and we’re looking forward to helping even more customers solve common and complex financial challenges in smart, practical ways.”

Never mind what customers love. What about the banks? The ability to test customer facing software out in the live environment at low cost, and then pick the best things and drop the rest is something big banks would have dreamed of a few years back. In the past doing this would have been expensive and complicated with a serious risk of disrupting customer services. Adding features to the main mobile app is essential as these apps are becoming the bank for the digital generation.

For example a survey of more than 13,000 consumers carried out by financial services review firm Smart Money People revealed that mobile apps had become the UK’s most popular banking channel at the expense of the online channel. It found that 39% of respondents preferred apps to bank with. This compared to just over 30% in the same survey in 2017. The growth came from the online banking channel, which dropped from over 45% in 2017 to 38.6% last year.

HSBC is making a habit of this.  After a pilot First Direct, the online and telephone bank of HSBC, turned off an app known as Artha, which  helps customers understand their spending from different providers through a single login

The most successful features of the app, developed with fintech company Bud  as part on an open banking initiative, were then integrated into the First Direct mobile app.

The app was like the Mars Rover – sent out to customers to find evidence of life in open banking features.

“The aim of the Artha app trial was to explore how open API technology could help customers in new ways by connecting their different financial products and service providers in one place,” said HSBC at the time.


June 5, 2019  1:34 PM

UK adults are increasingly opening accounts with new banks, finds Zopa research

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

Traditional banks might still be the main companies people engage with for their banking but there has been an acceleration in the number of people opening accounts with other banks.

Challenger banks in particular appear to be in a phase where, despite having millions of customers, they are the primary bank for that many people.

As Tandem bank CEO, Ricky Knox, recently told me, Tandem is a second bank for many of its customers. “Spend card behavior is the main way challenger banks are being used,” he said.

This is not a bad thing as consumers are trying out new banks before they even consider moving the bulk of their activity across.

I have an account with a challenger bank, but do moist my banking with one of the high street players. I am not convinced enough to switch that much and really only use the second bank as another way to pay for stuff. I should probably be b raver because I like what I see with the challengers. But at the same time my big high street bank has come on leaps and bounds in digital terms.

The reason I write this now is to flag up a survey from peer to peer lending fintech Zopa, which is launching a challenger bank.

The survey, which questioned about 2000 people, revealed that the number of UK adults with two or more current accounts has increased 36% in the last four years, with 17 million adults now using multiple current accounts.

Furthermore it found that the average person now has a relationship with seven different financial providers

Zopa CEO Jaidev Janardana, “Consumers now have more choice and are actively choosing to shop around for products and providers outside of the main banking relationship. The key to Zopa building a successful next gen bank will be delivering transformative value. We’ve demonstrated this already with our loans business – which has lent over £4bn to UK consumers, proving that savvy customers will consider new alternatives.”

Zopa will launch its own savings and credit card products, as well as a money management app to take advantage of open banking.

 


June 4, 2019  2:11 PM

NatWest Video banking service adds fuel to a future without branches

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

NatWest bank has launched a video banking service which allows customers to have appointments with bank staff anytime, anywhere.

Video banking teams will be located at NatWest centres in Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast, with customers connecting to them face to face via devices.

NatWest said this service will offer customers the “same sense of personal interaction they’d experience with a branch appointment.” Customers will have access to advice about any of their banking products, just like in a branch. It also means customers don’t have to travel to a branch.

What it didn’t say, but what is a major advantage as a bank, is that it is much cheaper than providing a branch network.

Marcelino Castrillo, managing director personal banking at NatWest said: “We know that customers value the personal interaction from our highly trained staff, and this technology will allow them to reach even more customers to help them reach their financial goals.”

Customers can book an appointment on NatWest’s website. They will need  a device that has a camera or webcam and connection to Wi-Fi or 3G/4G data.

Branch networks across Europe are being decimated as banks seek to cut costs and customers increasingly move to digital channels including mobile app based banking.

survey of more than 13,000 consumers carried out by financial services review firm Smart Money People last year revealed that mobile apps have become the UK’s most popular banking channel at the expense of the online channel.

In the 2018 survey, 39% of respondents said they preferred apps to bank with. This compared with just over 30% in the same survey in 2017. Branch banking was preferred by 11% of respondents in 2018, compared with 12.2% in 2017.

It appears branches are kept open for a shrinking number of customers.  If you can give a  more human engagement to people that want it, there seems little need for a large branch network.

But how long will it be before the teams in the video banking units are replaced by robots? I know from recent discussions with IPSoft CEO Chetan Dube, that the company’s cognitive agent Amelia can turn its hand to banking if required. Amelia doesn’t take holidays, lunch, or a pension.

 


May 22, 2019  8:57 AM

Fintechs should get out of London to open their eyes and grow

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

The Innovate Finance Global Summit this year has been and gone. With speakers including the chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and some of the leading lights in fintech attending, the event, in its fifth year was packed out.

There were well over 2000 registered visitors at this year’s event in the GuildHall in London, which had four stages running for two days. This was part of a busy Fintech Week in the UK. Yes UK, not just London.

The GuildHall London is in the heart of the City of London and fintech does sometimes feel like a London thing.

I have lived in London 20 years and it is a bit of a bubble. For fintech this is certainly the case, and something that could become a problem for the industry unless it spreads beyond the Big Smoke.

This is not just to help entrepreneurs outside the UK capital but also to provide appropriate fintech services to the people that live outside London. There are about 50 million of them after all.

I caught up with the Innovate Finance’s CEO Charlotte Crosswell after the dust had settled on fintech Week to get her thoughts on where fintech is today. She was keen to emphasise how the London based fintech trade body is trying to reach further afield.

Innovate Finance attempts to represent the entire finance sector and not just the new players normally associated with fintech. For every four fintech members it has a large financial institution member.

But what is needed to further broaden the reach of UK fintech is for entrepreneurs to look beyond London she told me.

This is something Innovate Finance wants to happen and is part of its strategy to improve financial inclusion or in other words create fintech services for people that would not normally use and benefit from them. Crosswell said this is part of its inclusion drive.

“I am encouraging more people to get out of London and look at the problems in more remote areas where financial inclusion is a big issue,” she told me. “We should not forget that a lot of people are not at the same level of technology adoption as we are in London and we don’t want the gap to get bigger.”

As Anne Boden, CEO at challenge bank Starling said at the event that the fintech industry has to stop looking at things through its own London based eyes. “We spend an awful lot of time talking to each other here in London, but we need to get outside”, she said.

“Can we stop having fintech companies solve London fintech problems. Let’s stop seeing the world through our eyes. People live very different lives to us in this room,” she told the audience at the Innovate Finance Summit.

Moves are afoot. Innovate Finance has signed an agreement with Fintech North and Fintech Scotland. This will not only help spread the fintech solutions coming from those regions but “enable us to see financial services in a different way,” said Crosswell.

This might include developing services for remote populations that are currently totally reliant on cash from a business to consumer perspective or giving regional businesses access to capital in the business to business sector.

Dan Rajkumar, who founded peer to peer fintech Rebuilding Society and is one of the founders of Fintech North, said  the partnership with Innovate finance and Fintech Scotland, known as the UK Fintech Network, disseminate the message and getting people around the country engaged with the industry. “This is whether they work in the industry or if they are a consumer that wants to know more,” said Rajkumar.

“While London it is a global hub you have to get a broad base of consumers and adoption and there is a large population across the cities in the North,” he added.

He said the economic benefits of getting the message out to people and finding regional partners are significant.

And fintechs can tap into the many of the same advantages as London in other regions, said Rajkumar. “Outside London you have a much longer runway if you are a fintech. The same resources are in places outside London but they are just not as amplified.

He said there is a cost saving for fintechs that look beyond London. “It’s easy to think that online processes and no branches cuts costs, but if you have all your staff in London on high wages which are subsidised by a high valuation that is not sustainable as a business model. What you want if you want a low cost business model is do it in a low cost part of the economy.”

Perhaps Innovate finance could change this and encourage fintechs to set up outside London. The problem is 94% of investment goes into the London Fintech sector because it’s easy for London based investors to visit them, said Rajkumar.


May 16, 2019  2:24 PM

Brits want their banks to offer the latest fintech services but are not ready to use them

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

If I had a pound every time somebody mentioned to me that London is one of the world’s capitals of fintech, I would probably be a bank.

And I don’t doubt it. I currently have a file full of recordings of fintech interviews that I have not yet had time to write up. Most of these companies are London based.

But it seems that much of the work being done in fintech is being wasted on Brits. According to the research team at ING bank Brits just aren’t that into the latest tech for banking.

The Dutch bank surveyed 14,824 people in 15 countries and found that the British are still pretty wary of using fintech innovations.

In fact 63% have never used fingerprint or voice recognition to log in to their bank’s app. Hard to believe, I use mine so much there is an actual in-print of my fingerprint in the home button.

But if you think that is shocking 70% of Brits still go into a branch for services.

But Brits although Brits are reluctant to use some of the latest tech they do want it to be there so when they are ready they can use it. The survey revealed that 69% think banks should deliver the latest technologies to their customers.

Jessica Exton, behavioural scientist in ING’s consumer economic team and the report’s author said: “Over time and if new digital approaches are shown to be reliable, useful and socially accepted, it is possible that the uptake of services such as automatically generated advice for budgeting and even investing could be rapid. That was the experience with the uptake of mobile banking. Consumers indicate that they want banks and other financial institutions to stay in the lead by developing new ways to help them manage their money despite any reluctance to accept them immediately.”

Here is a link to the full report.

 


May 15, 2019  9:07 AM

Nationwide invests in behavioural AI startup

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

Nationwide Building Society is continuing to put money into tech start-ups to not only offer its customers access to latest tech, but also as an investment strategy.

Nationwide is bringing a Canadian start-up Scaled Insights to the UK through an investment that will see the behavioural artificial intelligence company move its headquarter to Leeds.

Scaled Insights, which is currently headquartered in Canada, uses AI to analyse peoples’ speech which informs the system how it should respond to a person.

It is all very well automating customer services but and one size fits all doesn’t work. If the exchanges between the customer and computer are ineffective or even annoying for customers this can do more harm than good. The Scaled Insight software aims to tailor automated conversations to individials.

According to Nationwide: “The AI system [can] generate an impression of each persons’ personality traits, much like when you listen to a new person speak and create an impression of what they’re like in your mind. The make-up of people’s linguistic personalities is unique as a fingerprint, so understanding what motivates them means organisations can use this insight to offer a more tailored and personalised service.”

The investment is part of a £50m fund, known as The FinTech fund, which the building society launched in June to support startups that can deliver technology that the mutual 15 million members could use.

Although the building society is looking for innovation in banking as a platform, the fund is not only about fintech. Nationwide said it wanted to back tech startups in areas such as delivering technology to support finances in the home, apps to bring communities together and personal data and identity services. The FinTech fund, as it is known, will be part of the building society’s technology strategy. As well as money startups, the programme will have a senior member of Nationwide staff with relevant experience to provide support and expertise.

Tony Prestedge, deputy CEO at Nationwide Building Society, said: “In future, this technology could help us understand and better serve our members, which will allow us to talk to them in language that is appropriate to them all while maintaining the human service that our members expect from us for more complex discussions.”

Stuart Sherman, CEO at Scaled Insights, said: “We believe that the next steps in one to one communications will rely on computer systems understanding humans as individuals, and tailoring messaging and offers towards each person’s unique needs.”Nationwide is continuing to invest heavily in the latest tech, with an additional £1.3bn being channeled into its already ambitions IT spend.

The fund supports Nationwide’s ambitious digital plans. A total of £4.1bn will to be spent over the next four years which will see the creation of 1,000 jobs, a fintech fund, huge and the opening of a new tech hub in the UK, amongst other things.


May 10, 2019  1:59 PM

Striving to be a good bank at Tandem Bank: Fintech Interview 21

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

The biggest surprise for Tandem Bank when it moved customers it gained through acquisition, to its systems, was that not having the title Dame in its database could be an issue.

The digital bank was incorporated in 2013 took on its first employee, unsurprisingly a chief technology officer in 2015, and got its banking license in 2018. It has already amassed 500,000 customers for its services that include credit card, mortgages, savings, personal loans.

It plans to launch a current account soon.

Tandem is using artificial intelligence and open banking technologies to make banking easier and helping customers better manage their money.

It was founded by Ricky Knox, Matt Cooper and Michael Kent (Azimo CEO) in 2013.

I have already written about Tandem Bank a couple of times. Although it is a startup, much has happened. It has already acquired another bank and had a major cloud migration of its own.

In January last year, it acquired Harrods Bank, which at the time doubled its customer base to 21,000. The company’s growth has been steep with over half a million customers today. In fact so steep that the bank has already had a major migration of customer accounts when it moved from managed service provider systems to the Amazon Web  Services cloud. While its acquisition and customer migration might be in common with more established bank, the way it migrated, over one night was not.

I recently caught up with CEO and co-founder Knox to get a broader picture of the challenger. Knox told me he “is definitely not a banker.” After meeting him I unequivocally agree.

After studying economics he was involved in the first internet bubble in the early 2000s as a venture capitalist. “Most people thought it was a load of [rubbish] but we thought this internet thing was going to be big.”  Seems an understatement today, but although hard to believe there were many doubters.

“I went out to Silicon Valley to see what they were doing and came back to the UK and went to business school,” said Knox.  Since then he has set up six businesses, including one in telecoms and a software business.

Tandem was not Knox’s first fintech either. He was also co-founder of money transfer company Azimo, which I already featured in this interview series.

But Tandem is where he sits as CEO and where his time is mostly spent.

He said his and his co-founders’ vision was to build a good bank. “Money is difficult to deal with and most people mess it up and banks make it more difficult.”

“We make tools that actually allow people to make all these complex decisions and help them do what they want to do without any of the gobbledygook that the banks spout.”

He gave me an example of how banks are not designed for customers, which is a major failing when there is so much choice today. “Think about it, why do you have a current account and a savings account? Obviously this is because banks don’t want to pay interest on a current account. Why not? If they did you wouldn’t need a savings account.”

“People should get interest on everything they have got,” he said.

The bank uses Finserv as a system of record but it is the clever stuff at the front that does 90% of the work. Using the Tandem data platform, the bank offers customers information about their spending and helps them manage their money and get better deals.

“We analyses our customers’ various bank accounts and using AI spot opportunities for them to save money.” It is only when relevant the bank will offer customers advice on how to save money. This might include booking train tickets direct or switching utility supplier. It can then link to third party apps to help customers do this.

“But we do not push apps on people with a marketplace or anything like that,” said Knox.

“It is good to have pots and mechaniisms to help people save but the actual functionality of a bank should be to help people understand their finances,” he added.

For example, he said, in a world of contactless people don’t know where they are and can waste money. This is why, for example, real-time information about spending is useful.

To this end tech rather than bank was the place to start. “The first thing we built was the open banking piece and we did it initially using screen scraping to allow people to shadow control their accounts. We built all the tools to help people manage their cash over the top of accounts,” Knox explained.

“Our focus initially was gathering all the data and we didn’t need to do our own banking products to do this because of open banking.”

This is what Tandem offered its initial 10,000 co-founder customers as they are known. Knox explained: “We did a scheme that if you were an early customer you could help build the bank and the first 10,000 customers are known as co-owners.”

Tandem did not need a banking licence for this and was still in the process of getting one.

The clever stuff at the front end is the company’s differentiator. It has about 80 people working on thiis in product, design, tech and engineering. About 60 are in London with the other 20 in Krakow, Poland

And with half a million customers won over in about a year Tandem’s offering is certainly compelling.

The median age of a typical customer of Tandem, who uses a range of products, is 38 years, which according to Knox  “is a little but older than some of our competitors.” Knox said, like with most challenger banks Tandem is a second bank for many of its customers. “Spend card behavior is the main way challenger banks are being used.”

Some of its older clientele come from its first acquisition. At the beginning of 2018 it acquired Harrods Bank, which offered mortgages and savings. Although it was widely reported that this was done to give Tandem a banking licence, this was not the case. Knox said at that time the company already had a banking license and acquired Harrods Bank for the capital that had been invested into it. “This was in a way our first fund raise. We kind of did the deal for the capital and got the bank for free.”

Harrods brought about 7000 customers and £400m deposits £50m in mortgages.

Tandem experienced some obscure problems when migrating Harrods customers to its systems. “One of the problems is we did not have the title Dame in our database and 12 of our new customers had this title.” (My opening paragraph now makes sense).

About half of the savings customers from Harrods are still Tandem customers as well as a few hundred mortgage customers.

Following the Harrods Bank acquisition Tandem quickly launched its aggregation app, credit card and savings account. It later launched a personal loans business and revamped its mortgages business.

Read the previous fintech interviews

Part 20 Tink, Part 19 Goldex,  Part 18 AzimoPart 17 YoyoPart 16 BudPart 15 PrevisePart 14 FinastraPart 13 InstaReMPart 12 EucapsPart 11 AimBrainPart 10 MenigaPart 9 TrueLayerPart 8 InvestCloudPart 7 ClauseMatchPart 6 Rebuilding Society, Part 5 HonchoPart 4 AkoniPart 3 WriskPart 2 CreditLadderPart 1 Taina Technology


May 9, 2019  9:54 AM

Fintech Tink gets UK expansion rolling with NatWest deal

KarlFl40 Profile: KarlFl40

Swedish fintech Tink has signed up its first UK bank to its open banking services, in its drive to expand significantly in the UK

NatWest is going to use Tink’s platform which offers open banking capabilities.

I recently interviewed Fredrik Hedberg, co-founder and CTO at Tink. He told me the UK was a new market for the company, which it wants to build significantly. It recently opened a London Office.

It appears to have got the ball rolling with a significant win. NatWest is integrating Tink’s technology. Tink is an interesting company because although it has been around since 2012 it has since changed its business model from offering consumers a financial management product to offering banks a platform to use to build their own open banking services.

In fact Tink was doing open banking even before legislation was introduced, in the form of PSDII, to mandate banks to offer it to customers. It is now building Amazon Web Services for financial services companies, Hedberg told me.

Tink’s initial app, aimed at consumers, could be downloaded and connected to any bank. “We could collect a person’s complete financial profile through a single app,” said Hedberg.  After picking up half a million users with a B2C model it decide to target banks with a platform that they could use to build their own open banking services on top of.

The banks wanted a fast way to get the capabilities to connect to any bank in Europe and the ability to move money around regardless of which account or bank it was in. They also wanted to give data driven financial advice. Tink had this technology so decided to sell it on to banks.

Across Europe Tink already boasts a range of tier one banks as customers. These include BNP Paribas Belgium, ABN Amro, as well as well as fintechs ranging from large companies like Klarna to startups

Now for the first time a UK bank will incorporate the technology, with NatWest the first UK customer of this type for Tink.

NatWest recently launched an open banking feature to its mobile banking app that allows customers to see their account information at other banks. The Accounts with Other Banks option, as it is known, means customers that have accounts at 15 other UK banks can view all their activity through the NatWest mobile app.


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