Every Wednesday, we delve into the latest fintech updates from across the UK. This week brings updates from Wise, Cogo, CurveBlock, Snugg and Lothian Buses.
Lack of confidence in traditional banks’ international payment services
Only 51 per cent of banks’ own employees would recommend their company’s international payment services to customers, according to a recent Censuswide survey, commissioned by Wise.
Wise says the findings serve as a wake-up call for traditional banks to prioritise improving their international payments offerings or risk losing out to more specialised cross-border payment firms.
Bank employees are sceptical that the fees they charge to customers sending money abroad are fair, with 19 per cent of respondents admitting they are not proud of their international payments services. A further 32 per cent admit that although they have recommended their bank’s services in the past, they wouldn’t again.
On top of the lack of confidence bank employees have in recommending their products to others, the survey revealed an even greater lack of confidence in using their own products themselves. Sixty-two per cent of respondents claimed that they would consider using a fintech’s card abroad this summer in favour of their own bank’s.
Steve Naudé, head of Wise Platform, said: “If such a large number of banks’ own employees – those closest to their products – wouldn’t recommend their own services, and a majority prefer using fintechs, there is clearly a significant opportunity for banks to better serve this growing customer need.”
Cogo’s Business Carbon Manager extends to UK
Sustainability fintech firm Cogo has launched its Business Carbon Manager app in the UK, following its success in Australia. The app aims to assist UK SMEs in measuring, comprehending and mitigating their carbon emissions.
Cogo’s collaboration with global small business platform Xero, initiated in September 2022, facilitates the expansion. The tool enables SMEs to measure their carbon footprint, identify emission hotspots, and set reduction targets. Notably, the partnership with Xero supports businesses’ sustainability journeys by offering accessible carbon management.
Emma Kisby, CEO at Cogo, said: “Some see sustainability as an added expense and a ‘nice to have’, but our Business Carbon Manager tool helps businesses identify where they are wasting energy and money, and in turn recommends easy to implement climate actions that they can take while also reducing their carbon emissions and cost.”
The app is available for free to Xero customers, with premium features at £15/month, providing downloadable reports and public profiles.
CurveBlock joins Barclays Rise Academy to redefine UK housing
Leeds-based startup CurveBlock has partnered with Barclays Rise Academy to innovate UK housing. Its energy-positive homes, generating more energy than they consume, target sustainable living. By engaging everyday investors in real estate development, CurveBlock addresses the UK’s demand for carbon-neutral, energy-positive homes.
Already active in energy-positive housing projects across the UK, including Wales and Scotland, CurveBlock allocates five per cent of profits to combat homelessness. The company’s collaboration with Barclays Rise Academy strengthens its potential to reshape housing by incorporating innovative solutions from startups and SMEs.
CurveBlock CEO Gary Woodhead highlights the significance of joining the academy for platform expansion, aligning with their mission of inclusive real estate investment. “Being part of the Rise Academy cohort could
present us with a world of possibilities,” he said.
Company ambassador Dominic Matteo, a former Leeds United footballer who scored a rather great goal in the San Siro, sees CurveBlock’s approach as pivotal for tackling the housing crisis and achieving sustainable development.
Cebr report warns of surge in UK business insolvencies
Around 7,000 UK businesses could face quarterly insolvencies in 2024 due to high interest rates, recession, and pandemic debt, says a report by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
Debt from the pandemic, higher borrowing costs, and the cost of living crisis are expected to lead to more insolvencies, especially in retail and hospitality sectors.
The Bank of England‘s 14 interest rate increases have intensified pressures on businesses and households. The report calls for technological adoption to reduce overheads and improve operations, as the UK’s economic outlook remains challenging.
Josh Boer, director at tech consultancy VeUP, suggests that the figures should serve as a wake-up call to the very real risks facing British businesses and underline the need to embrace technology to reduce overheads in challenging times.
“The reality is that far too many companies still operate with outdated systems in place, failing to take advantage from the full benefits of enhanced IT through cloud technologies that can transform businesses for the long term.”
Lothian Buses sees record 100,000+ contactless taps
During this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, Lothian Buses experienced remarkable success, registering over 100,000 contactless EMV card and mobile wallet taps on 18 August alone.
This surge in “TapTapCap” usage demonstrates the popularity of the simple payment method among visitors to the festival.
Stevie Chambers, Lothian’s head of product strategy, attributes the success to the ease of use of the ‘TapTapCap’ system. “The concept is understood by people from all over the world, so there’s no language barrier, no need to understand the local ticketing structure and no need to carry cash. They just tap to travel, knowing that they will always pay the best available fare,” Chambers said.
Lothian Buses introduced Scotland’s first ‘contactless and capped’ open payment system in 2019, partnering with Flowbird for its implementation. The system achieved significant success with over 76 million journey taps, showcasing its appeal to both new and existing customers.
Scottish Building Society teams up with Snugg for greener homes
Scottish Building Society has teamed up with Snugg to simplify and enhance home energy efficiency for its customers.
Snugg offers a free online tool that analyses a property’s energy performance and provides personalised energy efficiency plans, including recommendations for trusted installers and available grants.
The partnership will empower Scottish Building Society members with personalised plans, trusted installers, and funding options to boost energy efficiency, reduce carbon footprints and lower bills.
Homes in the UK account for 40 per cent of CO2 emissions, with 48 per cent of Scottish homes rated below an energy performance certificate (EPC) C rating.
Scottish Building Society’s collaboration with Snugg also aligns with its sustainability goals, offering a straightforward way for users to improve energy efficiency while reducing environmental impact.