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Meet 11 Scottish Fintech Startups Changing the World of Finance

Michael Behr

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Fintech Startups

Scotland’s fintech startups are filling the gaps in the finance market by using technology to support a diverse customer base.

These are exciting times for the fintech industry. The UK’s fintech startups saw record levels of scaleup investment in 2019, coming in at £4.9 billion. With financial services playing such a key role in the UK economy, these startups are helping the country stay innovative and competitive.

This is especially true for Scotland and its developing tech sector. The number of Scottish fintech companies is estimated to have tripled from 2018 to 2019. Scotland’s financial services sector is the second largest in the UK, after London, and the financial sector employs around 7% of Scotland’s workforce.

With finance and tech accounting for such a significant slice of Scotland’s economy, the combination of the two sectors provides the talent needed to produce a range of exciting and disruptive fintech startups .

As the Scottish and UK economies face one of their greatest trials in the Covid-19 pandemic, financial technology will be vital to the recovery of both countries’ economies. The importance of fintech to Scotland’s financial sector will be explored at length in the Fintech 2020 Virtual Summit.

DIGIT has gathered together 11 of the UK’s hottest fintech startups to find out how they are changing the country’s financial services sector for the better.

Appii

Appii provides employee background checks and CV verifications using blockchain technology. Instead of performing costly and repeated checks each time a person changes jobs, each entry on a person’s CV is verified once and the data is stored on the blockchain, so each verification lasts for the life of the CV.

Through its website and mobile apps, users can create a profile with biometric identification, career verification logs and a micro-accreditation capture tool using QR codes. Instead of using third party verification companies, the blockchain links a user’s CV directly to educators, accreditors and former employers.

Recruiters can then pay to perform background checks using the pre-verified information regarding job candidates.

The Edinburgh-based company was founded in 2016 by blockchain innovators Gary McKay, Brian McNulty and Adi Ben-Ari and has passed its seed funding stage.

Alba

Glasgow-based Alba is a startup business bank specifically designed to support small- and medium-sized businesses.

The company aims to reverse the trend towards automation at traditional banks by putting client relationships at the centre of its business model. Alba lends directly to SMEs in Scotland and throughout the UK.

Founded and headed by ex-Airdrie Savings Bank Chief Executive Rod Ashley, Alba received seed funding in 2018 and has since reached the series B funding level.

It has since officially submitted its banking licence application and expects to become a fully operational SME-focused bank in the first quarter of 2021.

Fast PAYE

With its flexible wage app, Fast PAYE provides staff with access to their pay as they earn it, helping prevent staff from turning to expensive credit between paydays.

By providing a socially responsible payment model, Fast PAYE helps companies avoid using borrowed money to pay employees. The startup offers an app that integrates into a company’s HR, time and attendance and payroll systems. This tracks how much of an employee’s salary they have available at any time and authorises an appropriate advance.

Part of workforce management consultancy ShopWorks, Fast PAYE was co-founded by Ian Hogg, Lee Bowden and Nick Hill, with Hogg serving as CEO, Bowden as CCO and Hill as CTO. Since self-funding in 2019, it has grown and now has offices in London and Edinburgh.

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Exizent

By consolidating a person’s financial information, estate management startup Exizent aims to ease the burden on executors and families when somebody passes.

The company provides a flexible tool to help legal services, firms and institutions work together to gather information about a deceased person’s finances and assets. This ensures that all the players needed in estate management, such as banks, insurers, HMRC and local utility suppliers, can coordinate with each other.

Based in Glasgow, Exizent was co-founded in 2018 by its current CEO and former Barclays Director and Nick Cousins and Aleks Tomczyk, the company’s current COO.

MoneyMatix

Founded by lawyer and entrepreneur Tynah Matembe and project manager Helene Rodger, Edinburgh’s MoneyMatix is the company behind financial wellbeing services KuzaLearn and KuzaKash.

KuzaLearn is an education programme that provides financial wellbeing courses for workplaces, schools and community groups. Digital wellness app KuzaKash uses conversational technology to track financial behaviour and connect users to expert support.

KuzaKash is aimed at both adults and young people, helping everyone understand budgeting, planning and financial goals. KuzaLearn offers children financial skills courses to help them develop their financial futures.

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SageCity

Another Edinburgh-based fintech startup, SageCity uses blockchain technology to design and develop solutions for other companies’s process and infrastructure challenges. By providing a proof of concept, SageCity can design and build a minimum viable product for a customer.

SageCity’s flagship product is Versa, a blockchain-based tool to support online marketplaces and gig economy platforms. It allows its users to transact and settle money instantly at zero cost and also comes with an analytics function to help users understand customer behaviour.

CEO and co-founder Adam Greenberg has worked in blockchain and cryptocurrency since 2013, while SageCity’s other co-founder and COO Tom Sichel is behind the creation of the startup’s systems and operations.

OneBanks

With OneBanks’ services, users can consolidate and access their bank accounts in one place. The Glasgow-based company offers an open banking platform to connect all a customer’s bank accounts under one app.

OneBanks also maintains a network of kiosks at partner banks across Scotland. This lets customers interact with a human being if they need any guidance with their accounts. It also means that customers from under-served areas, such as the Highlands and Islands, can access services from any bank that has a OneBanks kiosk. With over half of all bank branches closing since the 90s, and many under-served areas also having limited internet access, this provides a vital service for many communities.

The company is currently being authorised to provide a range of payment services in the UK.

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Striver

Still at the pre-seed stage, Striver is a Borders-based startup aimed at helping micro businesses. The company has developed a suite of digital tools to help save businesses time and reduce stress. Striver’s platform offers a shop window function to help members boost sales, along with access to a resource centre and a community.

Striver’s tools include websites, social media and new sales platforms that can be tailored to a user’s brand and customers, along with easy access to third party support, such as suppliers, professional services and government assistance.

In addition, the company can collate business contacts to help communicate and make offers to customers whilst also allowing users to book and pay online for services.

Hubb Insure

A commercial insurance startup, Hubb Insure provides its customers with tailored insurance programmes. The company’s philosophy is to allow its users to only pay for what they need, saving clients money through transparent, usage-based broking.

Transparency is at the heart of Hubb Insure’s philosophy, with clients able to see each step of the insurance process and each interaction Hubb has with the insurers.

As a tech company, Hubb provides a secure portal to make claims process and policy adjustments faster compared to a traditional insurance agency.

The Glasgow-based company was founded by insurance veteran Mark Costello and tech designer Kristian Feldborg.

Digital Future Capital

As a specialist blockchain hedge fund, Aberdeen’s Digital Future Capital is well position to invest in cryptographic assets and currencies. The company uses a proprietary investment algorithm it calls Nikolin to provide access to blockchain and digital currency technologies for accredited investors

After spending two years developing the Nikolin algorithm by mapping over 2,000 cryptographic assets and currencies, the fintech startup was established in January 2018. Its co-founders, Kris Lindahl and Hal Salvesen, are both experienced entrepreneurs.

The company aims to become the UK’s leading cryptocurrency technology company by 2022.

Nude

A relatively recent addition to the Scottish startup scene, fintech startup Nude aims help people saving for their first home. The company offers a savings account, financial coach and app designed to help savers better understand their finances and the home-buying process.

Its app can provide timeframes and savings needed for a target mortgage, along with insights and advice based on your spending. It also provides advice on government schemes designed to help savers.

The company went live this July and recently raised £3.3 million on Seedrs, just shy of its £3.5 million target. However, it did eventually surpass this goal by nearly £40,000. Nude’s next goal is to apply for a banking licence in order to launch its own range of mortgages.

For more fintech insights, register for DIGIT’s Fintech 2020 Virtual Summit, set to take place on Tuesday 29th September.

Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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