Leeds Forum February 2019 Write Up
The Leeds FinTech community gathered on 27th February to network and discuss opportunities and innovations in the financial services and tech sectors.
Julian Wells, Director, Whitecap Consulting and FinTech North kicked off the event with an update on Fintech North’s activity since 2016: 32 events, 3300 registrations from 600 companies, 3 international trade missions and speakers from 21 countries so far.
Julian also updated the audience on some northern FinTech news, of which Whitecap Consulting was involved with: My Digital accounts has secured £1.25m from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and Manchester based Mojo Mortgages has secured £7m.
Steve Chown, Entrepreneurial Innovation Manager, NatWest
Steve Chown was first to present, providing an overview of the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator.
The accelerator has 12 hubs across the UK and around 950 entrepreneurs from a range of sectors. The programme takes in entrepreneurs in 6 month cohorts and is taking applications now. The accelerator hubs provide entrepreneurs with free desk space, mentoring in specialist areas as well as a community of other entrepreneurs to tap into.
As well the main (cross-sectoral) accelerator, NatWest also offers a FinTech accelerator, currently with 50 FinTech firms taking part. The Fintech accelerator runs in London, Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh. The NatWest FinTech accelerator aims to connect FinTech entrepreneurs into banks and the wider financial services sector, through personal networks as well as dedicated roundtable and demo-day events.
“We looked at the market and saw some great innovation from growing FinTech brands that are really engaging their end users. So we decided reinvent ourselves and partner with them.”
Zandra Moore, CEO, Panintelligence
Zandra Moore was up next to tell us the growth story of Panintelligence – a Leeds based tech business, providing data & analytics software into the tech and lending sectors.
The Panintelligence software was born out of frustration in an existing company that didn’t have the right solution for business intelligence and analytics. The offering then grew from an in-house ’side project’, to winning clients on a major scale, then moving forward into a white label offering selling to software vendors.
Zandra told us how Panintelligence had to adapt to differentiate themselves against their competitors that could also provide business intelligence and reporting. In a significant moment involving a tense meeting and a USB drive with data on over a million loans, Zandra told us how Panintelligence then began to grow their USP in helping people understand their data and unlock valuable insight, without needing the analytical expertise.
“In order to innovate as a tech company, you need to have culture that is about being open and supportive of new ideas and projects, and not kicking employees for failing at something new.”
“For tech firms to grow in the FS sector they need to speak their language, and finance needs to learn to talk tech.”
The agenda then moved into the FinTech pitches – three growing FinTech firms that are all part of the NatWest Accelerator programme.
The idea for UOWN came from an observation of the younger generation not being likely to own property and being dubbed ‘generation rent’. UOWN’s platform allows investors to buy shares in property in as little a 2 minutes and with as little as £1.
“We combined tech into the property investment sector to help everyday people invest in property”.
Investors in the UOWN platform buy shares in property and then earn rental income at around 6% a year.
Although initially focusing on the younger demographic, UOWN has expanded its proposition to include high net worths that want to diversify their investments across a number of properties. For this group of people, UOWN is a viable investment, that is well-diversified and requires little management time.
Tom Butcher from Trakz presented next, and began by stating that pet insurance is a $10bn opportunity for insurers, especially in the UK which has the highest pet insurance penetration at 25%.
Trakz provides an IoT device smart collar that tracks the real time location of a pet as well as sensor data on physical activity, the Trakz app helps owners see where their pet has been and is critical to helping them find the pet if it gets lost.
Following a similar model to telematics and car insurance, Trakz provides pet activity data to insurers via an API, which guides thee insurers pricing and value offering.
Mat Elliott from Nivo was our last FinTech pitch. He started by stating that opening a new account or getting a loan with a new bank is a process that is too complicated and too long.
‘It took me 48 days, 100 data fields, 29 emails, 5 different channels and 8 PDFs to complete/read. That’s too much”.
“After spending years trying to crack this on-boarding problem. The answer that we found is instant messaging. It’s 24/7, puts us in control, anyone can use it. So we decided to build the WhatsApp for the regulated service provider”.
End users can manage the whole process of identity verification and loan application (as well as e-signing to confirm) through the Nivo platform.
“Any brand can join our network for free in about an hour and use all of our features. Then they can offer it our to their end users instantly.”
The agenda then moved into a panel discussion which involved the previous speakers as well as Iain Clacher, Pro Dean – International, University of Leeds.
Iain updated the attendees on the new executive FinTech MSc programme the University of Leeds is launching in 2019. The programme is great for people wanting a mixture of both tech and finance knowledge and skills. Iain also told us of the pioneering work the university is doing in AI/Machine Learning as well as the new FinTech hub Nexus building which is launching soon and a new institute for financial technology and innovation.
Topics in the panel covered: product design, GDPR, partnering with corporates, scaling a FinTech business in the north, and raising funding.