Nottingham fintech firm secures Open Banking investment

A Nottingham fintech company which says it is on a mission to help small businesses make the most of the digital world has secured a six-figure investment.

The company now says the cash could help it transform the way those small businesses manage their finances.

Handle, based at the Accelerate Places tech hub, enables businesses to take control of their digital profile all the way from managing their credit score to optimising their online presence and presenting a professional face to the world.

Now, it’s been selected by the UK’s innovation foundation, Nesta, to help drive a revolution in small business banking opened up by the arrival in 2018 of the Open Banking initiative.

Expected to herald an explosion in innovative new services, Open Banking – which has been sanctioned by government and regulators – means traditional banks must make their data available to a new generation of fintech firms which want to offer customers more user-friendly services.

Nesta’s Open Up Challenge is designed to drive the development of a new wave of banking products specifically for small firms – and Nottingham’s Handle has been chosen as one of 10 fintech businesses to receive backing.

It’s been given £100,000 by Nesta to help it further develop its dashboard into a single app which makes it easier for small business owners to keep control of their cash position, grow top line sales, compare and save money on their key expenses and keep their credit score finance-friendly.

Olly Betts, Handle’s chief executive, said the award would enable it to offer customers a product which is expected to make managing their business finances significantly easier and less stressful.

“Financial and administrative hassles are the bane of every small business owner’s life and our mission from the start has been to take the opportunity presented by the online and mobile environment to make that much simpler,” he said.

“Handle’s dashboard already presents you with the information you need to manage your presence in the online world more easily. Plugging our Open Banking platform into Handle means we can move the product on to another level by helping small business owners take control of the information which matters most – their cash position.

“We know there are small firms out there trying to keep track of their finances on spreadsheets and Post-it notes when what they really need is a single app which tells them what they need to know when they need to know it on the smartphone they carry around with them.

“That’s what Handle will be offering from early 2018 when Open Banking goes live. Basic business banking services haven’t changed in years – the revolution starts in January!”

Handle was selected by an expert panel because its products were judged as most likely to have a positive impact on small businesses in the future. Along with the other finalists, it was praised for using open data to solve the everyday problems small firms face by automating complicated processes, making it much simpler to manage and access money, and increasing transparency in financial services.

Chris Gorst, challenge prize lead at Nesta, said: “The 10 teams awarded a prize demonstrated that they are using new technologies to solve real small business problems and have the potential to achieve impact at scale.

“Useful innovation has been slow to come in small business banking, imposing real costs on the entrepreneurial economy and hitting small business productivity. Open banking could radically reduce barriers for new players and models to emerge and this is good news for small businesses.”

Betts added: “This is a huge tribute to the hard work of a Handle team who have immersed themselves in the challenges small businesses face so that we can design and deliver the solutions they need. We’re also grateful for the support we’ve received in our endeavours from the Federation of Small Businesses.

“Winning the Nesta challenge is a big step on the road to making life easier for small business owners. They are spending too much time anxiously monitoring their cash position when what they really want to do is get on and enjoy running their business. We’re going to help them do just that.”