Each week we take a look at the latest stories from UK fintech. This week, Starling Bank launches Bills Manager to help people better manage their money and two-thirds of Brits are on the fence about a common UK digital identity
WondaPay Announces Launch of Payment Solution Platform for Freelancers
New Paytech company WondaPay has announced the launch of a new payment solution platform for freelancers. Devised to help protect freelancers against delayed and lost revenue, and to help them build stronger working relationships with their clients, the FCA-regulated service with bank-level security acts as a financial intermediary between freelancers and their clients. Centred around holding an already-agreed deposit, WondaPay’s new review-based solution releases the payment when work has been completed – meaning neither party is left out of pocket.
JJ Rathour, CEO and founder of WondaPay comments: ‘The freelance community makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, and a growing number of small businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on their services. But payment issues are a common problem.
‘WondaPay is there to protect everyone’s interests. Helping businesses to find the right freelancers to work with. And freeing freelancers from the stress of chasing missed payments. With a significantly lower commission rate than typical freelance referral platforms, our aim is to provide all parties with the best of both worlds.’
Fast brings world’s fastest online checkout experience to the UK
Fast, the world’s fastest online checkout experience, announced a major expansion into the UK in response to extraordinary demand for the company’s unique one-click checkout product.
By launching in the UK, Fast is offering merchants a checkout button that completes online orders in just a few seconds. After entering their contact information and payment details as they normally would for their first purchase on a merchant’s site, buyers are automatically signed up and can use one-click checkout at any online store with Fast Checkout.
“The UK has been at the very forefront of e-commerce for years. Merchants here truly understand how crucial a frictionless internet shopping experience is, and sophisticated shoppers demand speed and convenience,” said Domm Holland, co-founder and CEO of Fast.
Mastercard pop-up to support SMEs
Mastercard has launched Thrive Street, a month-long event to support small business owners from the Northeast of the UK. Taking place in the Metrocentre in Gateshead throughout November, Thrive Street will provide local small businesses with an opportunity to sell goods and services from pop-up stands made available to them for free. Business owners will also be able to attend a series of masterclasses to develop skills to build long-term resilience and improve growth prospects, as well as network with other business owners within their community.
Kelly Devine, President, UK & Ireland, Mastercard, comments: “Small business owners told us they hope to achieve a collective £827 billion in growth over the next five years, but this won’t happen without support, particularly when it comes to digital tools which have been so integral during the pandemic. Thrive Street, and our wider Strive UK programme, aims to empower small businesses with the skills they need to not just survive but thrive in the digital economy.”
Starling Bank launches Bills Manager to help people better manage their money
Starling Bank is introducing Bills Manager, to help customers pay their bills on time and better manage their money. The new feature, one of the most requested, provides customers with the ability to have a Direct Debit or standing order taken from money set aside in any of their ‘Savings Spaces’. Spaces is the section of the app that allows customers to set money apart from their main balance for specific savings goals.
When customers use this feature and a payment is due (for example, for rent or bills), the money required to make the payment will be taken from the Space, rather than the main account balance. It makes budgeting and managing bills much easier.
Anne Boden, CEO at Starling Bank, commented: “Our customers asked for this feature and therefore we created it. Enabling them to better manage their money is our number one goal.”
Accountancy Cloud opens Cardiff office
As a full-stack finance firm for startups, offering online accounting, R&D Tax Credits, and CFO services, Accountancy Cloud has seen significant growth since its launch and, as a result, has opened a new office in Cardiff. The company will be investing over £2.5m over 3 years in growing their headcount to 30 staff in Cardiff. Amongst these positions, they will be hiring for roles in departments such as accounting, customer success, marketing, and software engineering roles.
“Our vision is simple: To become startups #1 finance partner. To do that, we’re investing in Cardiff because it’s not only one of the emerging hubs for talent, but we truly believe Cardiff is a force to be reckoned with in Fintech. Customer demand is rapidly accelerating as we continue to scale our business, and our Cardiff office marks a huge milestone for us as we aim to deliver on our vision” says Wesley Rashid, CEO and Co-Founder of Accountancy Cloud.
Aviva research reveals poor saving habits in UK adults
Despite more than £200bn being added to household cash savings throughout the pandemic, recent research from Aviva discovered that nearly two-thirds of UK adults aren’t saving on a regular basis and, of those who do save, many may not be making the most out of their savings.
Just 1 in 7 (14%) people regularly move their cash savings around to get better rates, even though this can make a big difference. 16% of survey respondents admitted to having had the same savings account for more than a decade and just over 1 in 4 (27%) said they regularly check how their savings are doing. Furthermore, nearly 1 in 10 (9%) said they have no idea what the interest rate on their savings is.
Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings and Retirement at Aviva commented: “Household cash savings have boomed for many through lockdown. Many spending outlets have been closed to business, such as pubs, restaurants and high street retail outlets. Headline interest rates have also fallen to a record low, but there are better deals out there for those who are willing to look.”
New digital-first bank Monument is moving to launch
Monument has announced that the UK regulatory authorities, the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority, have lifted deposit restrictions on its licence, so it can now operate as a fully-licensed deposit-taking bank, built during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Monument is the first neo-bank to be launched in the UK specifically to meet the unmet demands of mass affluent clients – approximately 4.8 million professionals, entrepreneurs, property investors and others – who are seeking a bank to help them save and grow their wealth (which is estimated at c.£6 trillion). Monument is uniquely focused on the needs of the mass-affluent and will demonstrate through its exceptional service, that it treats their time as more valuable than its own.
Mintoo Bhandari, CEO of Monument, said: “We are very pleased to share the news that the Regulators have given us the green light to proceed to commercial launch. We are ready and eager to serve clients, who we believe have been lacking a bank that is being developed to serve their needs and service requirements.
“While we never planned to build and launch a bank in the middle of a global pandemic, the timing could not have been more relevant as the demand for, and comfort with, digital finance has accelerated dramatically over the past 18 months.”
New research reveals two-thirds of Brits are on the fence about a common UK digital identity
Research conducted by RegTech Associates on behalf of PassFort, the SaaS RegTech provider, whose platform automates financial crime and compliance processes, has revealed two-thirds of Brits feel indifferent about a common digital identity. Only 17% of respondents stated they are very much in favour of it, while occupying the middle ground, 34% said they are cautiously in favour and 31% were sceptical about it. At the other end of the scale, 6% stated they are very much against a common digital identity.
“Given the obvious benefits of a common digital identity in fighting fraud, financial institutions have a vested interest in helping to explain these issues to their customers”, said Rob Stubbs, Head of Research at RegTech Associates. “Not only could this help to stem the rising tide of financial crime in the UK but, in conjunction with the latest developments in biometrics, it can also help to deliver better, faster and more reliable compliance checks for consumers, which is in everyone’s interest.”