From machine learning to blockchain, fintechs succeed by applying creative thinking and problem solving to capitalise on technological advances and regulatory change.
But innovation rarely happens in isolation. The ability to collaborate and share knowledge is what the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is all about.
There are 55 start-ups in residence at Rise London, Barclays’ Fintech space in Shoreditch. What’s on offer though is far more than Wi-Fi access and somewhere to sit.
The aim of the three-month programme is to link up early-stage ventures with the in-depth expertise offered by a large financial institution to help them grow.
The 2018 Accelerator is now underway at Rise London, here are some of the firms taking part:
One of the biggest risks small businesses face is not getting paid. Nimbla allows them to see that risk in real time, with the option to insure the invoices they are worried about - for as little as £5.60. It is the first time that single invoice insurance has been offered in the UK.
Nimbla also chase debts using optimal email systems that are constantly learning, they monitor risk and automatically trigger collection processes or file a claim on the SME's behalf. Nimbla plan to use robo-advisors, powered by machine learning to improve customer cash flow, protect customer business and save time.
CEO, Flemming Bengtsen said:
“It’s fast… in fact it’s in real time. If you try and get a quote on existing insurance policies, it can take days. SMEs can sync their cloud accounting system to our platform; we then draw on a wide range of data sources for our underwriting so they get a decision within minutes.
“We give SMEs flexibility to make their own choices about mitigating risk by offering them insight into their customers. If we find a company to be particularly risky, we’re not afraid to be transparent and warn them.
“The Accelerator will help us develop because it offers opportunities to harness the expertise of a large institution. We can plug in on an ad-hoc basis and because of this, we’ll be able to build a team that is balanced and will scale well as we grow.”
Only one in four B2B companies worldwide are currently selling online - in the United States, it’s only one in nine. Crowdz is looking to change that, with online marketplaces that give small & midsize enterprises (SMEs) a powerful and cost-efficient new way of selling to B2B customers in an environment in which they’ll always be found when customers are looking for the products they sell.
Crowdz does more than that, though. Their platform automatically digitizes the largely paper based documents associated with B2B purchases - like invoices, POs, and shipping details - replacing the costly and antiquated systems that most SMEs are still using with a system that is fast, efficient, and nearly cost-free. And because this document transport takes place over the blockchain, it is highly secure.
Crowdz also helps accelerate SMEs’ cash-flow by enabling them to sell their invoices in an online auction exchange, giving investors the additional invoice inventory they’re seeking while providing SMEs with the cash-flow financing they need at the best rates possible.
As Crowdz CEO Payson Johnston explains:
“We’re democratising supply-chain finance. Through our system, we offer SMEs - which account for 70% of the supply chain – previously unavailable access to on-demand invoice purchasing. So many businesses go under because larger customers often take a long time to pay invoices. But to survive and grow, smaller companies need faster payments and more sustainable cash-flow. And that’s what our solution provides.
“As an American company, being at the Barclays Techstars Accelerator in London gives us a gateway into all of Europe - and from there, on into Asia. That’s the path we’ll be taking, one step at a time.’
From students getting university papers confirmed, passport certification and visa applications, to purchasing foreign property, so many processes require documents to be certified or notarised, but it can be difficult to connect with a professional to help get it done.
Oathello is an app that connects customers to legal professionals in minutes to find, book and pay for these services in one seamless app.
CEO of Oathello, Jennifer Hourihane is a lawyer and saw a huge gap in the market when she founded the company:
“Oathello is dedicated to making life easier for both the legal professionals and the clients they serve. We launched the platform just a couple of months ago and things are really taking off. People will always need documents to be notarised or certified. Oathello makes the whole process so easy and allows legal professionals to provide their services in a more business friendly manner.
“Customers that need documents certified or notarised can book and pay professionals direct and connect with services when they need it most - which is crucial in today’s fast-paced world and business environment. Legal professionals are also improving the way they provide services and connect with the public so Oathello is a win-win for both sides of the market. Signing up takes less than two minutes and then you’re hooked up in a seamless way.
“The Accelerator is phenomenal. The building itself is a vibrant hub of ideas and innovations that help businesses and professionals. We’re linked up to a network of like-minded people who are dedicated to positively impacting the lives of millions of people.”
One in five people who go abroad will need some sort of assistance. Sitata helps keep travellers safe by providing them with real-time health information. Their mobile app collects traveller's itineraries and provides all relevant health and safety information including vaccination recommendations, emergency numbers and hospital locations.
In addition, Sitata monitor the world's media and social outlets 24/7 for events that could disrupt travels, using advanced software algorithms that leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence.
More than that, in the future, it also aims to provide medical assistance locally, through the app, with an international web of medical experts which the team is currently pulling together.
CEO, Adam St. John said:
“Sitata gives people real-time awareness of what they need to look out for when they’re travelling abroad, it works on a global scale. As we improve the offering of the app to provide more services we see real value for users.”
Sanjaya Shrestha, Director, Future Payments said:
“We had more than 500 applicants to the Accelerator, so the ten that are selected by Barclays are the best of the best.
“While they benefit from our scale and financial expertise, we benefit from their energy, disruptive mind set and that sense that the world is there to be conquered. It is that attitude that helps start-ups succeed. And we’re here to partner with them, mentor them, help them grow and also grow ourselves in that process.”