Each week we take a look at the latest stories from UK fintech. This week UK customers can access new Chase accounts, NatWest launches tax calculator for businesses and UK FinTech start-up ‘Leslie’ Launches
FCA reports upward spiral of suspicious activity reports from financial firms
The number of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) submitted by financial firms to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been steadily increasing year over year since 2017, according to official data.
The figures, disclosed in the recently published FCA report called Financial Crime: analysis of firms’ 2017-2020 REP-CRIM data shows that reports of suspicious activity by staff members concerned, suspicious or aware of illicit financial activity, have risen from 887,500 in the 2017-18 financial year, to 934,136 in FY 2018-19, to 1,028,260 in 2019-20 – this reflects a 16 per cent increase overall during the period from FY 2017-18 to FY 2019-20.
Wayne Johnson, CEO & Co-Founder of Encompass Corporation comments: “Money laundering and other forms of financial crime present major challenges for banks, and this is an issue which has only been buoyed by the advent of widespread remote working and online banking systems. It is therefore absolutely essential that firms work closely with the FCA to openly and honestly report signs of illicit activity and work with them to take appropriate actions.”
UK customers can access Chase accounts
New Chase customers in the UK can now access the fee-free current account immediately from the Google Play or Apple App Store.
Since its launch in September, Chase has been taking a controlled approach to onboarding people to ensure customers enjoy a seamless first experience of the new bank. Now, new customers can download the app straight from the Google Play or Apple App stores, opening a current account in minutes via the simple and intuitive app.
The current account combines everyday money management tools with additional rewarding features such as: 1% cashback on everyday spending, 5% spending roundup interest, No fees abroad, Security features and 24/7 UK based customer support
75% of UK businesses think that remote workers pose a greater threat to IT security than office workers
In a survey of UK cyber security, IT and business professionals commissioned by WatchGuard Technologies, 75% of respondents believe that remote workers pose a greater IT security risk to their business than office workers. This heightened level of threat as most companies return to a mix of home and office working post-pandemic, contributes to the massive 83% of respondents who feel that cyberattacks on their business will increase over the next 12 months.
“Cybercriminals will always find new and inventive ways to mount their attacks and exploit the weakest links and target employees when they are most vulnerable,” said Jon-Marc Wilkinson, Sales Director UK & Ireland at WatchGuard Technologies. “The survey reveals that home workers are at most risk and that increasingly sophisticated phishing techniques are the most popular way to gain a ‘foot in the door’ into corporate networks. With budgets and skills in short supply, it is more important than ever for companies to spend their money wisely on technology that will help protect users and their endpoint devices – wherever they are – and is easy to deploy and manage.”
NatWest launches tax calculator for businesses
NatWest has launched a new online tax calculator powered by Swoop, which will allow UK businesses to identify and calculate additional tax incentives that may be available via super-deduction or annual investment allowances, to assist them with business investment planning.
Ian Isaac, Managing Director, Lombard Asset Finance, NatWest Group said: “The government’s decision to increase tax incentives both by way of extending the £1m Annual Investment Allowance until March 2023 in the recent Budget and introducing the super-deduction scheme, will help businesses to stimulate business investment and increase productivity. With businesses now looking to build back better, grow, diversify and become more sustainable, it’s essential we continue to provide them with the practical support to help achieve these ambitions.
“We’ve worked with Swoop on the tax calculator tool which offers business leaders access to the information they need to understand the tax benefits they may be entitled to when investing in qualifying assets. This development follows the success of the grant finder tool which has now been made more widely available to help more businesses benefit.”
ekko launches climate-friendly debit card and app
ekko has launched its climate-friendly debit card, app and ecosystem, empowering consumers to make a difference in the fight against climate change. When using ekko for routine actions like shopping, banking, or paying bills, consumers can feel good about doing good while having a positive impact on the planet.
With ekko, every five transactions pays for one ocean-bound plastic bottle to be collected and every fifty transactions pays for a tree to be planted and maintained. The ekko app also keeps users up to date with their green activity, tracks their progress and monitors their carbon footprint via a carbonmeter.
Oli Cook, co-founder and CEO of ekko said: “As the world’s leaders come together at COP26 to advocate collaborative action, so starts our own journey. We have spent the past 24 months building a powerful collection of financial tools that mobilises people from every walk of life to do good and to live more sustainably effortlessly. We are excited to introduce ekko to the world and for this next stage in our journey.”
£700k investment gives Liverpool City Region restaurants & community an alternative to food delivery giants
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has announced a £700k investment in Peepl, a new payments and rewards technology that offers local restaurants an alternative to existing food delivery giants, such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat.
The recently-launched app takes a community-driven, ethical approach to food delivery, connecting a local, low-carbon delivery solution, through partner apps with local restaurants and customers. It will mean restaurants pay lower fees, with a reward token that keeps more money flowing in the local community.
Peepl’s software enables a form of localised currency called ‘Peepl Tokens’ to flow between sellers and buyers in the network – in this case, restaurants and people purchasing food from the restaurants. The tokens can only be spent within the network, which keeps the money circulating within the city region economy.
Steve Rotheram said: “Peepl has the potential to radically disrupt the food delivery market by bringing together all those values and injecting a lot more fairness – for riders and restaurants alike – to an industry not known for its treatment of workers.”
PayPal launches Zettle Terminal in the UK
PayPal Holdings, Inc.has launched the Zettle Terminal in the UK, an all-in-one point of sale (POS) solution that offers increased mobility in-store for small businesses. The Zettle Terminal is ready to go right out of the box, it does not require a second device to pair it with. Featuring a sleek touchscreen, this all-in-one mobile point of sale system is easy to setup and use, offering small businesses simplicity and efficiency.
“Small businesses, particularly in-person small businesses, have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. As consumer behaviour continues to move toward digital channels, small businesses need to digitise. With Zettle Terminal, we’re helping small businesses in the UK digitise to meet the needs of consumers who want a seamless commerce experience across all channels – in-store, online and on mobile,” shared Jim Magats, PayPal’s senior vice president of payments and small business solutions. “The Zettle Terminal is a complete, mobile in-store and omnichannel solution that offers a range of flexible payment options and interoperability across e-commerce, accounting and banking partners to help businesses run seamlessly and efficiently.”
UK fintech start-up ‘Leslie’ launches
Fintech start-up Leslie has officially launched following a multi-million-pound seed round with investment funding. Within just six weeks, Leslie has revolutionised the hospitality industry across the UK, by offering customers a simplified and more efficient way to order, tip and pay. The technology, accessible to the end-user via a QR code, with no app download required, delivers a seamless customer experience and checkout process, enabling customers to pay via their smartphone instantly.
Leslie will use this seed funding to continue its growth in the UK and fuel rapid expansion across the globe.
“One of the industries that hasn’t undergone any drastic transformation is hospitality and there are so many missed opportunities that tech is poised to capitalise on. Not just here in the UK where we’ve already secured 100s of venues since launch, but the US and wider markets as well,” says Leslie co-founder Joey Barnett. “The combination of our tech, our growing team and now this strategic investment, ensures that we can take on the global hospitality market.”
40% of UK businesses still using spreadsheets for finance function
Research into UK SME finance and accounting departments has exposed the sheer lack of digital tools currently used, with just one in five (20%) having adopted the use of automated invoice processing and 39% are still using Excel spreadsheets and manual processes.
The research of over 200 UK finance and accounts payable professionals also revealed that over a third (35%) haven’t automated their accounting processes because they use multiple formats for invoices and don’t want multiple software systems.
Francois Lacas, Deputy Chief of Operations at Purchase to Pay software provider, Yooz says, “UK businesses are facing many tough challenges at the moment as they, like many businesses across the world, begin their recovery from the pandemic. Add in the challenges brought about by Brexit and it becomes clear that they need to get smart when it comes to business and finance operations. You could make a strong argument that the need for streamlined processes and financial automation has never been more critical for business prosperity as it is now.”