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Fluidly wins Nesta Open Up Challenge – Round 2

We’ve just won £200,000 to help small businesses with their banking!

The winners of the Nesta Open Up challenge were announced today, and we’re so pleased that Fluidly was on the list. The winners are companies who are committed to improving the lives of small businesses by making banking easier for them, using the new Open Banking APIs that have come into play in 2018.

What is the Nesta Open Up challenge?

In 2018, for the first time ever, small businesses are allowed to share their banking data with trusted third parties. This unlocks big opportunities. Nesta has allocated a £2.5m fund to help companies improve the banking experience for small businesses, with a focus on making the small business banking market transparent, high quality and innovative.

Nesta provides money to reward and support companies in their work, but also helps them technically; winners get exclusive early access to the largest anonymised UK banking transaction data set ever released.

Competitors for the Nesta Open Up fund are made up of companies who are providing ‘game changing value’ to small businesses. Round 1 of the challenge focussed on companies who had developed credible ideas, and now Round 2 considers companies who are ready to bring their ideas to market (or are already in market).

The Open Up challenge is run independently by Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre with backing from the CMA, and funding from 8 of the UK’s largest providers of SME banking – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Santander, AIB Group (UK) p.l.c., Bank of Ireland UK and Danske Bank.

Why is the Nesta Open Up Challenge important?

The Open Up challenge is encouraging companies to make full use of the Open Banking APIs that have come into play this year. Caroline Plumb, CEO and founder of Fluidly sees Open Banking and the Nesta initiative as extremely valuable to the big picture of small business banking.

“We’re really excited to see the trend moving towards making banking data more and more accessible. Businesses really stand to benefit from porting their data out to third parties who can provide them with services that banks currently cannot offer.”

Making data more accessible allows room for new services and products on top of existing infrastructure.

“Think about Whatsapp,” says Caroline. “It’s now an incredibly successful service but it was built upon existing Telco infrastructure that was used in a new and innovative way. Similarly, Open Banking will allow companies to use existing banking systems to offer new products and services.”

The trend towards accessible bank data allows space for new categories of technology to emerge, and Fluidly is defining one such category – Intelligent Cashflow. Fluidly uses financial data and machine learning to produce a baseline cashflow forecast that requires no modelling whatsoever. Where before it might take hours and an Excel spreadsheet (or 2!) to produce a view of the financial future, Fluidly gives an instant cashflow forecast that is always up to date.

Caroline says “We’re on a mission to help small businesses sleep better at night. Cashflow is the lifeblood of a business, and Fluidly acts as an autopilot –  business owners can concentrate on the difficult stuff whilst trusting that Fluidly has got an eye on the finances and will alert them to anything going wrong.”

Since Open Banking came about, we’ve been working with the FCA to become licensed as an AISP (Account Information Service Provider) and a PISP (Payment Initiation Service Provider). This means we’re in a good position to provide straightforward advice around business finance – Fluidly knows which debt should be chased first to get the quickest returns and this is critical information for small business owners.

Currently, of SME failure, 80% is due to poor cashflow management – but with Fluidly and Open Banking, we want to prevent all that. The Nesta grant will help us to build all the features we’d like to more quickly and help thousands of small businesses.

We’re so pleased that Nesta considers us a small business banking champion and a big well done to our friends at Coconut, Funding Options, OpenWrks, Funding Circle and Swoop who were also winners.

You can learn more about our Intelligent Cashflow forecasting here.

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