More so than ever before, Fintech startups in London have been at the forefront of creating digital solutions for global financial markets. Technology is the main agenda when it comes to businesses of all sizes planning short and long term strategies. This is where startups have the edge as they are able to adapt and innovate quickly. Allowing product strategy to pivot in response to the market and the rapid mobilisation of new ideas. What can we learn from fintechs in London specifically? Understanding key UI and UX design trends, combined with the ease of features such as Open Banking, allows London-based fintechs to provide users with access to their entire financial footprint in moments. They have also rewritten the rules of traditional financial markets.
We’ve outlined the top fintech companies in London right now, from the major players to the rising stars. If the last 5 years are anything to go by, the future tech landscape is one to keep an eye on. It’s a fantastic venture opportunity as demand continues to grow.
Fintech Startups in London: Major Players
Revolut – A Better Way to Handle Your Money
Revolut – Founded in 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko, Revolut has been a real challenger of the traditional banking model. Initially specialising in foreign exchange, Revolut raised £1.5M in its first year. Backed by the likes of Seedcamp, they were able to simplify the exchange of money, via multiple currencies and by easy transfers. The business model has allowed users to save time and money, two of the most precious things in the world.
The introduction of debit cards allowed the startup to expand and saw the challenger reach a million customers by 2017. After multiple startup funding initiatives, it also gained a further £50M investment. Marketed to a millennial (and younger) audience, the brand focused on freedom and fairness. The freedom to travel the world at a fraction of the price compared to fees charged by traditional banks. As well as fair rates and access to your own money. A long list of features followed: digitally-managed savings, current accounts, credit and insurance. The startup now has an international presence with offices worldwide.
Starling – Changing Banking For Good
Starling – ‘Changing banking for good’ is a bold and admirable claim that has gained the world’s attention. The company is well positioned within the three key major challenger banks. It focuses on providing customers with insights and access to their current and business accounts on the go. Winning Best Current Account provider in both 2019 and 2020, Starling has built a strong presence in the finance industry since it was founded in 2014. The digital bank has received a total of £363M in funding over the years. This has enabled it to expand its services to pensions, savings, travel insurance and mortgages.
The bank’s new focus on savings and mortgage products makes it one to keep a close eye on. It aims to help customers achieve their financial goals such as the ultimate goal of owning a home. Banks depend on mortgages for the core of their income, so Starling is quite literally giving them a run for their money.
Monzo – Banking Made Easy
Monzo has been a true brand success story, bringing design and marketing back to basics. It capitalises on colour psychology, which is inherent in the adoption of the coral debit card. Exclusivity is another marketing tool that’s used by the bank. When it first launched in 2015, Monzo had an exclusive waitlist which saw the bank acquire a full list of customers before it had unveiled its features. Today, the challenger bank has over 4.7M customers that it serves from its headquarters in Shoreditch.
In the very early stages, Monzo was simply a tool to make international spending simpler and cheaper. It was anyone’s call as to which direction this startup would move in. Since then, the bank has launched various product feature releases including bill splitting, switching, savings, joint accounts and loan products. Monzo raised £60M in its 2019 funding round. With the aim of monetising more of its services, we can expect to see more loan and insurance products in the future. As well as iterations of their premium current account offering.
Nutmeg – A New Approach to Investing
Nutmeg is changing the way that people manage their money, specialising in investments and savings. Founded in 2011, with around £120M invested so far, Nutmeg has grown considerably in the last few years. The investment platform has upwards of 50,000 customers, with the support of leading banking firm, Goldman Sachs.
The wealth manager uses technology to keep charges low, and to enhance transparency in a customer’s investment. The technology allows for management of diverse portfolios, with an ability to respond quickly and efficiently to the changing market. Understanding what the best savings and investment opportunities are for a customer’s financial behaviours, is just one of the reasons why Nutmeg is one to watch.
Whilst these major players within the London fintech startup scene do a great job of fulfilling today’s digital financial needs, there is absolutely room for growth and innovation. We’ve identified some of our favourite rising stars to watch in the London fintech space.
Fintech Startups in London: Rising Stars
Cleo – AI Powered Money
Cleo – Founded in 2016, Cleo is an artificial intelligence startup focused on enabling users to better manage their finances. Based in Clerkenwell, this startup uses an intelligent assistant to provide insights to users, which in turn enables a greater understanding of their financial footprint and opportunities. Investment has exceeded the £10M mark, with efforts continuing to raise debt financing. The motivation behind this is in part due to the upcoming premium offering, Cleo Plus.
Aiming to introduce rewards (a tricky feature to nail) and a wide range of perks including cash advances that don’t see users dipping into an overdraft, will see Cleo stepping into new fintech territory.
Habito – Mortgages Made Easier
Habito – Homebuying is one of the next core focuses on the Government’s agenda, with organisations like Shelter petitioning hard for clearer rental rights and improved standards in the private rental sector. This focus is a step in the direction of enabling more financial freedom to individuals and families to achieve financial goals like homeownership. Habito, founded in 2014 with circa £80M achieved in funding to date, continues to grow in relevance in this sector.
Habito Plus offers a 360-degree digital home buying service. Think of all of the aches of the home buying experience and bundle them into one great service. Mortgage applications, conveyancing needs and surveys. Users also have access to a broker portal, with more than 3,000 brokers on hand to access buy-to-let mortgages. In coming years, this will evolve to cover the full spectrum of the residential market’s needs.
Coconut – Smart Accounting for Self-Employed People
Coconut is designed specifically for flexible workers, including freelancers, self-employed people and small business owners. Founded in 2016 with a £4.4M investment to boot, Coconut has been able to support users with their burdensome financial commitments, all from their office space in London’s Tech City – Old Street. This includes accounting and tax returns.
Many banks have tried and failed to relieve this pain point, as they have been unsuccessful in keeping up with the changing demands of tech. Coconut employs an agile workforce, allowing for rapid innovation and response to changing consumer needs.
Curve – An Over-The-Top Banking Platform
Curve – The term ‘over-the-top’ sounds like an elaborate one and for Curve, consolidating all cards and accounts for users feels necessarily elaborate – and quite frankly, a real treat. Founded in 2015, Curve has seen around £60M worth of contributions so far, to support the creation of one smart card and app for all transactions.
Ensuring that all accounts are fee-free when spending abroad, Curve works to provide you with value for continued use. You can earn instant 1% cashback on household favourites including Amazon, Netflix, Uber and Sainsbury’s. Whilst benefitting from a great deal of protection from the Curve Customer Protection plan. The plan covers all credit and debit card payments up to £100,000.
Lean – The Fintech Gateway
Lean – Established in 2019, Lean is very new to the market. Unlike other fintech startups in London, Lean exists to build developer-friendly APIs for other financial startups. Funding has seen upwards of £2M so far, with a great deal of potential as their client list grows. With offices in both London and the Middle East, the team creates solutions that add value to its partners.
Lean works in an intelligent and transparent way, focused on optimising insights and customer return. Given the current digital landscape and the projections for the next 5-10 years, it’s highly likely that Lean could help traditional banks and financial institutions modernise and survive the growing digital demands.
Trussle – Free Online Mortgage Broker
Trussle’s mission is admirable, as a free online mortgage broker making mortgages fairer for everyone. Founded in 2015, the digital broker has seen circa £26.8M investment to date. A necessary shift in the traditional, paperwork heavy mortgage process, Trussle is completely free to customers – making its fee from the lender once the transaction is complete.
The broker covers more than 90 different lenders, and compares over 11,000 deals to find the customer the best possible mortgage deal for them. Working much like the price comparison sites we’ve grown to love, Trussle goes one step further by keeping its eye on the market to ensure that the client is able to switch to a better deal in the future.
Funding Circle – Fast and Affordable Small Business Finance
Funding Circle – This article certainly justifies the gap in the market for Funding Circle, simplifying the investment and fundraising process for startups. Established in 2010, the startup has seen almost £600M of investment so far. The startup has found a way to maximise the return for investors, while giving businesses access to essential financial support in order to grow.
Funding Circle provides the necessary provisions to simplify the funding process, allowing for attractive returns for lenders – without the piles and piles of paperwork. It’s well-known that funding rounds prove to be extremely time-consuming for startups, although hugely essential for any form of growth. Funding Circle provides fast and easy access to startups, to allow for the creation of jobs, growth of products and key contributions to the growth of the economy.
BUX – Do More With Your Money
BUX was established in 2014 and has seen around £27M in investment so far. The business has three core products in the market: BUX Zero (commission-free investment in shares ), BUX X (simplifying the trading experience) and BUX Crypto (easy and affordable investment in digital currency). BUX was designed to allow customers to do more with their money, and we see this in the consistent expansion of their suite of products for all – both stock market veterans and those just starting out. The digital investment climate is changing rapidly, and BUX thus far has been able to stay ahead of the curve from its Old Street HQ.
The startup allows for customers to engage with the financial market through mobile platforms, in an affordable and seamless way. In January 2020, Bux acquired the cryptocurrency investment platform Blockport – further expanding its investment portfolio. We know this product as ‘BUX Crypto’ and is one to watch over the next 12 months. Users are able to access financial assets including Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP – in addition to the Blockport Token, now recognised as the BUX token. This business has grown rapidly over the last few years and demonstrates a resilience essential in the fintech market.
VoxSmart – Communication Surveillance for Capital Markets
VoxSmart could very much be the link between all of these fintechs, prioritising the surveillance and risk mitigation of businesses by delivering critical insights and intelligence. Established in 2006, VoxSmart is highly intelligent, collecting all communications sources (calls, email, instant messaging) into a single monitoring platform.
The startup is also based in Old Street, London and has seen investments of circa £10.4M so far, with numerous awards won throughout the years. VoxSmart arguably offers the financial services market with the most comprehensive product suite to mitigate risk and improve efficiency around data integration, processing and analytics.
Accelex – Unleash the Power of Your Private Investment Data
Accelex – Like VoxSmart, Accelex takes fintech intelligence one step further. This startup uses AI and machine learning to get the most out of your investment data, untangling and sorting into trends that allow for a more powerful decision making process. Launched in 2019, the firm offers essential analysis of investment data for greater customer experiences and returns.
Data is a scary word to many, but Accelex have developed the technology to allow for deeper learning experiences that accelerate growth and mitigate risks, by understanding and recognising trends earlier. With offices in London, Paris and New York, we can expect rapid expansion in the next few years. With digital data piling up as the financial services world catches up with the demand of technological advancement, we can only predict a greater reliance on services like Accelex.
The fintech industry will continue to thrive, with traditional banks working on a number of ways to reach new, younger and more agile customers whilst also trying to keep up with startups within the market. In order to diversify income, move away from the conventional mortgage model due to the increase in lifetime renters (a core earner for traditional banks), and adapt to an ageing population, we can expect the banking landscape to look very different in the next 10 years. How? It’s difficult to tell. But what we do know is that fintech startups in London will most definitely be leading the way.
At Canvas, we provide office space for startups and scale-ups in London – including offices for tech startups. We’re lucky to have some of the most exciting businesses in the world work from our buildings, including a few fintech startups. The office spaces that we design are perfect for startups to thrive, with open-plan workspaces, unique decor, communal facilities and plenty of plants. We also offer inclusive perks and flexible contracts in popular startup hubs such as Old Street, Shoreditch and Clerkenwell. You’ll also find our serviced offices in Mayfair and Dalston. If your company is looking for a new place to call home, get in touch with us and we’ll be glad to help.