The U.K.’s financial services market is expanding, with FinTechs — dubbed challenger banks — rivaling traditional financial institutions (FIs).
This week, the industry got a bit bigger: Recent reports said the sector’s newest entrant, Countingup, has officially launched to disrupt the small business (SMB) banking space. According to Asset Finance International, the challenger bank is particularly focused on sole traders, freelancers and contractors to provide them with a mobile-first financial services platform.
“Sole traders have been neglected by the mainstream banks who focus on larger businesses,” said CEO and Founder Tim Fouracre. “Often sole traders are forced to use personal accounts because the process of setting up a business account is arduous, slow and expensive. This creates a huge headache when trying to make sense of your business finances.”
The solution provides automated accounting and tax management for its entrepreneur clients. Reports also noted that Countingup will focus on building awareness among small businesses about the importance of financial management.
“We’re launching with banking. The accounting functionality will be rolled out throughout 2018,” the executive added. “We’re already providing a profit and loss report and automatically categorizing transactions from the beginning.”
The company also said it’s exploring potential integrations with other financial companies, including PayPal and Stripe, as well as with other companies that are popular among SMBs, like Dropbox and Google Drive. Countingup’s launch comes soon after the U.K. adopted the European Union’s PSD2 rules and its own Open Banking initiative that promotes the sharing of data between traditional FIs and FinTechs for the purpose of boosting competition in the financial services market.
Last October, Countingup announced it secured $750,000 from investors at Frontline Ventures and others ahead of its market debut. The company said it wanted to address the estimated 4.2 million sole traders that operate in the U.K.
“This includes everyone from your construction subcontractor to your IT freelancer, whether they are self-employed or operating as a limited company,” Fouracre said at the time.