Nesta Chooses 20 FinTechs For SME Banking Competition

Innovation foundation Nesta has announced the 20 FinTechs chosen to compete for a $6.5 million prize as the company looks to boost innovation in the small business banking space.

As part of its Open Up Challenge, announced in February, Nesta called for FinTechs that are using APIs to disrupt small business banking. The 20 chosen companies will compete for the prize money used to develop next-generation services and apps for U.K. small businesses, Nesta explained, adding that each of the 20 firms will receive a $65,000 grant, along with access to the Open Up Data Sandbox and business support.

The Open Up Challenge is backed by the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority as it promotes retail banking reform.

“We have been overwhelmed by the volume and quality of entrants for the Open Up Challenge,” said Nesta Challenge Prize Lead Chris Gorst in a statement. “It’s encouraging to see how much energy and talent is focused on FinTech innovations for small businesses.”

“We now have twenty teams who we firmly believe can build next generation services that will transform small business banking,” he continued. “By supporting these teams with financial rewards, expert support and access to the Open Up Data Sandbox, we hope to play a part in revolutionizing a sector that has been slow to exploit new technology and respond to customer needs.”

According to Nesta, the Sandbox to which the 20 companies have access is aligned with industry standards for APIs. The Open Banking is overseeing the development of those open banking standards and, earlier this month, released API specifications for account and transaction information and payment initiation. Those standards will go live in January 2018.

“From automating activity that currently takes valuable time away from businesses, to making access to credit and advice easier and smarter, it will revolutionize the way companies are run and grown,” said Imran Gulamhuseinwala, trustee of the Open Banking unit, of the opportunity presented by open banking via APIs. “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.”

The companies participating in the challenge are as follows:

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
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