Finalists named for London banking ideas challenge
Seven innovative start-up companies have been chosen to take part in a major new London-based project that aims to bolster advanced technologies in financial services.
Supported by the Mayor of London and the City of London Corporation, the FinTech Innovation Lab London is a twelve-week programme in which participants will gain support from the major banks and gather interest from venture capitalists and investors.
Announced last autumn, the London event is modelled on a similar programme that was co-founded by Accenture and the Partnership for New York City Fund.
The finalists chosen are companies such as Kiboo, a US-based firm that aims to understand young people and help them to manage their personal finances, using online and mobile tools and social networking features. Kiboo focuses on users aged 15-22, and includes tools that let users set goals and share them with friends and family, as well as tips, advice and community discussions on topics such as how to earn money at school, as well as how to give back something to society, for example through supporting projects to provide clean drinking water in developing countries.
“There is a disconnect between young people, the way they socialise, and the banking industry,” said Lisa Halpern, chief executive and founder of Kiboo. “That divide centres most of all on communication. We are building a community where young people can have their first interaction with real money in an environment that is relevant to them.”
Other participants include Germany-based Tesobe, which is working on the Open Bank Project, an initiative to create open source APIs and management platforms for the banking industry; and Swedish firm BehavioSec, which has developed a biometric software platform that helps confirm desktop, website or mobile users’ identities by analysing the way they type, click and swipe on their computers and mobile devices, so that companies can help fight fraud.
At the end of the twelve weeks, there will be an investor day presentation by the seven innovator firms in front of an audience of venture capitalists and financial services executives. Large financial institutions participating in the programme include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Lloyds Banking Group, Morgan Stanley, RBS, UBS and VocaLink, the UK national payments infrastructure provider.
“Getting on the programme is a big prize in itself,” said Alastair Paterson, chief executive and co-founder at Digital Shadows, one of the participating firms. “It would be very difficult to get in front of those banks otherwise. It’s a great opportunity for all of us.”
“This is a really exciting group of innovative technology entrepreneurs that have been chosen,” added Mike Grimaldi, head of EMEA technology at Goldman Sachs. “It is these types of companies, with the right support, that have the potential to significantly impact the future growth and development of the financial services industry in Europe.”
Many of the firms attending the London event have something in common – the entrepreneurs that created them believe in a more open, more interactive business model that recognises the way technology such as social media and mobile has changed the way people and businesses interact. “We’re providing awareness of society, of life issues beyond just yourself,” said Halpern at Kiboo. “We are building a community and a conversation around your money and a trusted place.”
Digital Shadows, a UK-based company that helps firms to keep track of their digital footprint by monitoring information posted online by organisations and employees via social media, cloud services and mobile devices is another example. The aim is to give companies a view of their digital presence and help them to address any reputational or security issues. Digital Shadows is all about helping companies to reduce the damage to their reputation and their security that can come from information sitting ‘outside the wall’.
“Data used to be in the centre of most firms behind high walls designed to keep everyone out,” said Paterson. “But with the growth of modern technology, that wall is not so secure anymore. I can verify that a lot of companies are startled by what they find out there in the public domain. Hackers are often able to use a surprising amount of information that they found outside the wall. They really do their research.”
The three remaining participants are Waratek, an Ireland-based company that aims to help firms reduce their infrastructure costs by using Java to develop cloud based applications; Growth Intelligence, a UK-based firm focused on using predictive analytics to provide intelligence on companies that can help with risk management; and Calltruck, a UK-based company that provides call-recording technology so that users can search audio for specific words and phrases, which is useful for compliance and workflow efficiency.
The FinTech Innovation Lab London is also supported by government-funded think tank the Technology Strategy Board, Accenture, Euclid Opportunities, the Greater London Authority and UK Business Angels Association. The Technology Strategy Board is sponsored by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and describes itself as the UK’s innovation agency, tasked with building the economy of the future.
“London is the world’s number one financial centre and a global leader in technology innovation, which is why the FinTech quest for entrepreneurs is such an exciting proposition,” said Boris Johnson, Mayor of London. “The project has huge potential to help spur jobs and growth and I’m sure will attract some very bright minds whose inventions could help to revolutionise the financial services of this great city.”
The presentation day is currently scheduled for 20 March and is expected to take place at City Hall, London.