Dr. Ruth Wandhöfer is a Global Fintech 50 Influencer and Partner at Gauss Ventures. As part of The Fintech Times focus this September on Women in Fintech, she gives us her top five female-led UK fintechs innovations that are poised to thrive.
Nothing in 2020 has been predictable and we are still gauging what the ripple effects of the coronavirus crisis will be. All we know for certain is that it is already sending seismic shifts throughout industries all around the world, inviting new opportunities for fintechs to gain new ground in the aftermath of the crisis.
- Goldex (Sylvia Carrasco)
During uncertain times, precious metals like gold are held up as a “safe haven” – and in fact the price of gold hit an all-time high of $1,944 per ounce in the middle of 2020, as more and more investors flocked towards it. However, clear ownership records, safe storage location and verified authenticity are a crucial aspect of gold ownership.
Enter Goldex, led by Sylvia Carrasco – this intuitive app is the first global marketplace showcasing instant and fair pricing for physical gold. You can now buy, sell and securely store physical gold directly from gold suppliers using the Goldex app on your phone.
Carrasco has said she anticipates the gold price will strengthen even further in 2020, during the UK’s transition period before its EU departure in December.
- Darktrace (Poppy Gustafsson OBE)
With lockdowns all over the world, more of the global workforce is operating online than ever before – and so too are sophisticated criminals: the FBI has said cybercrime reports quadrupled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Human security analysts take an average of 3 hours for each security investigation, but as crimes become more frequent and serious, scaling teams to meet the demand is challenging.
Darktrace supplies artificial intelligence-based cybersecurity software to corporate customers, delivering a 92% time saving. Their Enterprise Immune System combats the viruses designed to bring down corporate computer systems through pioneering “self-learning” algorithms modeled on the human immune system.
Having reached a $1.65bn (£1.3bn) valuation, it is preparing to float on the London Stock Exchange next year and is led by CEO Poppy Gustafsson OBE.
- Starling Bank (Anne Boden)
While the pandemic keeps pushing other digital banks off course, UK-based digital bank Starling Bank – founded in 2014 by Anne Boden – has not only managed to avoid a meltdown but is set to become the first major UK neobank to turn a profit.
Starling Bank helps people to visualise and manage their money in real time from their app and this focus on making banking easy and intuitive has made it the fastest-growing bank for Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises, with a 2.6% share of the UK’s SME banking market.
The pandemic has meant that SME demand has helped to increase revenue as approximately ten percent of Starling’s business customers have been taking out loans. Boden has said that next year they plan to more than double the number of their fintech partnerships as they continue to create accounting, legal and insurance solutions for SME customers.
- Inbotiqa (Liza Russell)
Over 124 billion business emails get sent every day around the world – and this is only set to climb, as more people work from home. In financial services especially, where there are high-volume shared mailboxes in back- and middle-office operational areas, there will be an increased need to support teams as they communicate remotely.
Inbotiqa, led by CEO Liza Russell, exists to help tame the beast that is business email – through artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.
Inbotiqa recently expanded into Northern Ireland through establishing a new Tech Hub in Belfast. As one of two female CEOs to be heading up companies accepted into the Barclays TechStars accelerator programme, Russell is adamant on making sure Inbotiqa operates in an inclusive way.
- WorldRemit (Catherine Wines)
WorldRemit, co-founded by Catherine Wines in 2010, is the mobile payments company that now has 4 million customers globally covering 150 countries. While life in lockdown is making it more difficult to transfer money overseas, remittances account for more than 5% of GDP for at least 60 developing countries.
WorldRemit represents some of the new technologies available when it comes to removing some of those barriers and has disrupted an industry previously dominated by offline legacy players. Last year they raised $175 million in a Series D round of funding and are set to grow even further by expanding to include payments to small and medium businesses.
In developing countries where COVID-19 is exacerbating the effects of extreme poverty, it is even more crucial that digital innovation continues to facilitate faster, lower-cost money transfers around the world.
We know from the aftermath of The Great Recession that the winners in a crisis are those that are agile, innovative at their core, and fast to adapt to unprecedented conditions – for that reason we are excited to see where all the above go from here.