Top 10 coronavirus initiatives by fintechs
As governments and incumbent banks struggle to distribute the huge coronavirus aid packages they have announced, many fintechs have taken the opportunity to show their mettle.
The likes of Square, Intuit, and Stripe have collectively written to US Congress to get involved in the country’s emergency government funding, as have UK fintechs been contacting the Treasury over recent weeks to get involved in similar opportunities.
Whilst they wait to be included, these same fintechs have been developing new offerings and making certain platforms more accessible to help both businesses and individuals cope with the worsening pandemic.
Here is FinTech Futures’ pick of some of the best efforts made across the industry so far:
A group of isolated developers from these companies clubbed together over a weekend to build ‘Covid Credit’, a platform to help the self-employed get access to further income relief amid the coronavirus.
Even after the government announced a revised scheme to help the self-employed, many have still not been able to apply for credit promised to them because of “gaps” and “small print”.
The Covid Credit team have held talks with the Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and HMRC.
America’s biggest digital bank Chime has been piloting a way for its users to receive their federal $1,200 stimulus checks instantly.
CNBC reported that the San Francisco-based fintech randomly picked 1,000 of its customers to get the payments using its ‘SpotMe’ service, which allows balances to go negative without incurring fees.
By using its own capital to front the pilot, Chime is taking on a significant risk. If US government agrees not to allow Chime users to redirect stimulus payments to other bank accounts, CEO Chris Britt will expand the service to Chime’s eight million users.
Promising to help two million British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 2023, iwoca’s CEO and co-founder Christoph Rieche says “digital access to finance is particularly valuable” in the current crisis environment.
The lender says it wants to “unify fintechs and banks” by providing micro businesses with “fast and digital access to finance at a crucial time”.
The UK-based financial management app operated by open banking provider OpenWrks has launched a new initiative to help Brits get access to payment relief, aiming to reach two million of these people in the first eight weeks of launch.
Called the COVID-19 Relief and Wellbeing Network, it is a “free to consumer” digital outsourcing service to help companies register and validate customers who apply for financial relief.
The UK challenger bank has launched its ‘Connected Card’ feature, which allows customers to give a second, “spare” debit card linked to their account to someone who can spend on their behalf.
The card is PIN protected and has a balance limit of just £200, only permitting users to spend in-store, and not online.
TrueLayer offers up its open banking services for free
The API builder is offering up use of its platform for free to any person or business who wants to use open banking to help in the fight against coronavirus.
The fintech says the free tool can be used to help firms and governments quickly and digitally verify a person’s financial need, as well as to help charities receive instant donations without incurring card interchange fees.
Fellow API builder Plaid has also made its platform free during coronavirus.
The UK business loan marketplace has adopted open banking technology to help lenders cut down on loan decision times as coronavirus puts new urgency on applications.
“Businesses applying for finance will see their application time reduced from days and hours, to just minutes,” the company says.
In March, the marketplace saw 10,000 businesses apply for more than £1 billion worth of loans, prompting the urgency of its open banking integration.
The Florida-based digital and core banking solution provider launched the system to help distribute some of the $349 billion set aside for Small Business Administration (SBA) ‘Paycheck Protection’ loans by US president Donald Trump.
Nymbus’ SmartLenders Programme promises to help participating banks and credit unions to deliver “instant financial relief” for their small business customers, digitising the entire Paycheck Protection Programme (PPP) loan process.
German payments fintech Wirecard teamed up with European multinational software corporation SAP to offer free and “low cost” online payment solutions to merchants through a portal built with European innovation platform Futur/io.
One offering is an online payments solution called ‘Pay-by-Link’, which allows merchants to receive real-time payments through a smartphone even if they do not have an online shopping presence.
“The aim of the initiative is to bundle the offerings of all major tech companies in Germany and make them more easily accessible to merchants affected by COVID-19,” the companies says in a statement.
Tide launches Coronavirus Government Support Eligibility Checker
Tide announced the launch of its Coronavirus Government Support Eligibility Checker in a bid to provide SMEs with access to financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing lack of clarity about the distribution of these funds. Their Coronavirus Government Support Eligibility Checker will help SMEs to identify the financial help available to them and assist them in accessing the available support.