Having secured a total of £300,000 in funding, Neofin Ventures is preparing to relaunch Unizest. The reestablishment of the e-accounts provider will be supported by Mastercard and Railsbank.
Founded by fintech veterans Matt Oldham, Tony Shawcross, and Chris Donnachie, the newly formed Neofin Ventures has secured a grand total of £300,000 in funding via Worth Capital’s The Start-Up Series and angel investors. Utilising this recently accumulated funding, Neofin Ventures is preparing to relaunch the fintech Unizest, which was a recognised e-accounts provider.
The Unizest platform is due to relaunch in June 2021, with its services being made accessible through both a dedicated website and a downloadable app.
Recognising the obstacles faced by students and non-UK workers in particular with regards to opening a UK bank account – a notoriously difficult and time-consuming process – the founding trio are rebuilding solutions from the foundations of Unizest’s technology.
Originally formed to serve the primary needs of international students, Unizest’s e-account solution will broaden its mission to include services for new workers to the UK, who will be able to apply for and set up their e-account before they leave their home country. Upon arrival in the country, account holders can expect to receive their Debit Mastercard.
The relaunched Unizest is due to partner with those involved in bringing people to the UK, such as recruiters and other agencies, to make the process as simple as possible and remove one of the barriers to making the first step into a new life in the UK.
The renewed Unizest brand will enter the market with support from established industry members Mastercard and Railsbank.
“We aim to create the best start for people arriving in the UK for work or study. Healthcare, construction, and agricultural workers coming from overseas fill a crucial gap in the UK’s economy and industry recovery, however, they face numerous challenges when trying to do something as simple as opening a bank account,” comments Matt Oldham, Co-Founder at Neofin Ventures and mentor at Barclays Fintech Accelerator Techstars.
“The issue creates friction and a gap between being able to work and being able to start,” he continues. “This can cause frustration for employers and stress for workers. At worst, it can lead to vulnerability as overseas workers are the most at risk of exploitation at work.”
Neofin Ventures co-founders Matt, Tony, and Chris each hold a minimum of 25 years experience in the financial services, business, and banking technology sectors, including flagship names such as Visa, Mastercard and Amex. Their collective expertise and industry relationships have yielded interest and support from leaders in the world of finance.
Support From Industry Leaders
The funding round was led by Worth Capital as part of its The Start-Up Series competition. Neofin Ventures won the competition and went on to secure £200,000 from the Start-Up Series Fund.
“Fintech is a popular sector for seed investment, but we have always been wary of investing in this frenzied space. Too often we see great tech solutions desperately searching for a problem to solve or products and services in highly competitive spaces where the cost of acquisition is high but revenue generation is challenged – you can see this with many of the so-called challenger banks,” comments Matthew Cushen, founding partner of Worth Capital.
“Unizest has a clear target audience, both the workers and students planning to come to the UK and the recruitment agencies and others that help them to get here,” he continues, “then the difficulty of setting up accounts prior to being in the UK is a knotty problem for them all. The team has a route to that target audience that should end up with a very low cost of acquisition. And they have a product and brand proposition forensically tailored to their type of user, along with a team that has delivered in the past.”
The investment was further supported by a number of angel investors.
Sharing the same value of ‘creating the best start for people’, Mastercard and Railsbank are supporting Unizest’s re-entrance to the market.
“We believe in giving everyone, everywhere access to the digital economy with the means to pay, and be paid,” comments Edoardo Volta, Head of Fintech at Mastercard UK & Ireland. “It is great to be working with Unizest as they offer this innovative solution for underserved new to the UK workers.”
Louisa Murray, COO UK and Europe of Railsbank, the Banking-as-a-Service platform, adds “Advancing financial inclusivity was one of the main reasons why Railsbank was created, so it is good to be involved with Unizest, whose team has set out to provide e-accounts for new residents to the UK, helping their introduction to the country. We congratulate the team on the funding and the relaunch, and really look forward to working with them over the coming years.”