UK-based innovation foundation Nesta has revealed the 20 fintech firms who will participate in its Open Up Challenge as it looks for services, apps and tools for SMEs – with a £5 million prize fund on offer.

As reported in March, Nesta launched its challenge – open to entries from anywhere in the world that will use open banking APIs to “transform the way small businesses discover, access and use financial services”.

The 20 teams, who were selected by an independent judging panel, each receive a £50,000 grant, funded technical and business support, and exclusive access to the Open Up Data Sandbox, “containing one of the largest anonymised UK banking transaction datasets ever made available”. Nesta says there is an opportunity for them to win a share of a further £3.5m if successful during the challenge.

Participants include firms offering neo-banking, alternative finance and invoice financing, credit scoring, product comparison and selection, automated financial intelligence and infrastructure. A “key theme is the appetite to use advanced machine learning techniques”.

The 20 companies are as follows:

  • Beyond Labs – cost tracking and forecasting tool
  • Bud Financial – web and mobile app for financial services
  • Coconut Banking – bank account for freelancers (formerly Monizo)
  • Credit Data Research – manages SMEs’ credit profiles
  • DueDil – business information and intelligence
  • Capitalise – online marketplace for lenders and SMEs
  • Fractal Labs – provides automated financial assistant
  • Fluidly – SME cashflow management
  • Funding Options – online aggregator
  • Funding Xchange – quote comparison site
  • Growth Street – provides lines of credit to finance working capital
  • Handle by Bizfitech – offers direct-to-SME platforms
  • Investly – invoice discounting marketplace
  • Iwoca – lending firm
  • Ormby Street – digital Software-as-a-Service (Saas) company
  • Runpath – money management tool provider
  • Solo – Smarter Freelancing – app to handle paperwork
  • Teller – API for bank account
  • Tide – mobile banking
  • Xelix – platform for discounting between buyers and suppliers

Nesta also made reference to Open Banking, the entity overseeing the development of the UK’s open banking standard.

As reported earlier this month, Open Banking released the API specifications for account and transaction information and payments initiation, which will go live in January 2018. Nesta says its Open Up Data Sandbox aligns with this specification and provides access to real anonymised data.

In addition, Nesta points out that its Open Up Challenge is part of a package of retail banking reforms which are recommended by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). In February, the CMA published its 766-page final report on the retail banking market and its open banking goals.

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