Bud raises $20m to help link banks to fintechs and other financial service providers.

UK Fintech, Bud has raised a further $20M in funding after their latest Series A round.  Bud provide a product allowing banks to connect their apps and data to other fintech companies and financial service providers.  

Bud was launched in 2016 and started off their journey as a consumer app, aimed at making various financial services accessible from a single interface.  Since then, they have evolved into a tech platform which offers to help banks remain competitive in the open banking landscape.

Its tech creates new apps and services that enable high street banking customers to manage all of their financial products within a single app.

In short, the Bud product acts as the tech middleman, intelligently connecting bank account data to third-party financial services.  These can range from progressive fintech to more traditional financial providers.

One of Bud’s more high profile clients is HSBC owned, First Direct.  They have built a showcase of features; all designed to streamline the customer experience, making controlling finances more manageable.   

Bud CTO and co-founder, George Dunning explains how they have used data to detect patterns and behaviours, allowing them to enrich user experience and offer tailored products to individuals.

“Connection and aggregation of people’s accounts is the standard now, so we focussed on things like increasing financial literacy. ‘Smart Balance’ is a feature that shows users what they can safely spend and ‘Goals’ help them plan ahead. Our advanced regular payment finder filters and tracks bill payments and if you can save money Bud connects you to a service that will make it happen”.

For example, a customer books a holiday.  Bud is able to detect this by looking at account data.  They are then able to offer additional financial services.  The customer would be offered travel insurance for instance through with a Bud partner within the app.  

This latest round of funding was backed by a number of investors of considerable note, with contributions from HSBC, Goldman Sachs, ANZ, Investec’s INVC fund, and InnoCells.

As we’ve already said, HSBC owned, First Direct are a Bud customer.  However, Dunning wouldn’t disclose any of the product’s other banking clients.  He did say though that “We are working with a handful of banks across the industry, using open banking and our marketplace of services to solve problems for their customers which couldn’t be solved before now”.

On the financial services side, he was a little more forthcoming.  In total Bud currently works with 85 companies, from lesser known fintechs such as Wealthify and PensionBee to large insurance providers such as Hiscox and investment company, AJ Bell.

Using the new capital, Bud has plans to significantly expand its headcount.  Bud currently has a 62 strong team, but plan to double this. It aims to grow into the largest team dedicated to Open Banking in the world.  

Ambitious plans indeed, but one that is demonstrative of the company’s significant approach to innovation.  It is also reflective of the considerable changes afoot in the fintech space. Traditional, counter-based high street banking models have become relics and are being replaced by progressive tech such as this.  Banks are having to increase their digital presence in order to stay relevant and respond to customer trends.

The government could become shareholder in UK tech companies.

Chairman of Innovate UK, Ian Campbell has suggested that the government could soon become equity stake holders in Britain’s technology start-ups in a bid to give it more say over where these companies base their operations.

Innovate UK form part of a non-governmental public body which provides grants and loans to companies.  Since its inception 12 years ago, it has invested more than £2bn in British-led projects. While Mr Campbell stated that each company has to make a decision regarding its location based on its own merits, Innovate UK  “would love to encourage startups to stay in the UK and grow and scale in the UK”. He went on to say that there were ways to incentivize companies to remain on British soil; something that would be made easier should the government hold a financial stake in innovative start-ups.  

The UK has always been a breeding ground for progressive forward thinking tech enterprises.  Sadly though, it has been less successful at retaining those companies and being the place where they can scale and grow.  Mr Campbell remarked that;

“We know when companies scale the jobs stick, so we’re trying to create scale-ups not just spin-outs” .

Over the last couple of years, a number of notable UK startups have left the UK, having been snapped up by foreign giants.  Facebook bought Bloomsbury AI last summer, while 2016 saw Arm Holdings head to Japan.  Silicon Gorge success story, Dyson are of course, the latest big name to make a move.  Dyson announced only a fortnight ago that they are moving their HQ to Singapore.

As we type, Innovate UK clarified that there were no concrete plans for the government to start taking stakes in businesses, but that it was “always open to new models”.

French car-booking firm take on Uber after London launch.

This week it has been announced that French startup, Chauffer Privé plan to expand their services into London.

The startup will operate under a new name, Kapten, as they grow across Europe.  They plan to launch their Uber-esque service across London and Geneva after the startup successfully ventured into Lisbon last September.

Today, Kapten’s London launch date is still to be announced.  However, chief executive Yan Hascoet has given some indication regarding the size of the scale up.   In an interview given to The Financial Times, Hascoet indicated that the plan was to have between 5,000 and 10,000 drivers working for Kapten through its app.

Although similar in principle, there are some key differences between Uber and the Kapten product.  Kapten will not replicate the surge pricing model employed by Uber. Instead, they will offer customers a fixed price regardless of traffic conditions or increased demand; something that may prove an attractive alternative to Uber’s loyal user base.  This being said, no pricing information has been made available for Kapten in London. Kapten will also offer a loyalty programme so that regular riders can receive free trips; something else that Uber fail to do.

Across the UK at large, Uber remain largely unchallenged by rival car-booking services.  However, across the capital it is a different story. Kapten’s launch in London will see it become another competitor to Uber in the city.   Gett, MyTaxi and Addison Lee are all battling for our attention as competition in the space increases.

And Finally…

Customer experience drives digital transformation efforts.  

Recent research published this week from The Altimeter Group has suggested that a growing number of corporations are accelerating their embrace of digital technologies as they focus on what matters most…their customers.

This conclusion comes from findings generated from the fifth edition of the report, “The State of Digital Transformation”.  Indeed, according to Principal Analyst, Brian Solis the key to the success of digitalisation lies in embracing the customer viewpoint.  He surmises that;

“When you look at all of the initiatives that companies are spending on under the flag of digital transformation, most of the top 10 initiatives are related to customer experience”.

It was found that more and more companies have been investing heavily in understanding the entire journey a customer goes on.  In fact, the survey found that 59% of companies had put the customer at the centre of their digital transformation efforts; a figure up 35 % from the previous survey.

They have looked at the entire lifecycle; from discovering a product, to researching a solution, to making a purchase. The goal is to ensure that any digital investment improves some or all of that experience.  

Solis believes that this focus on the customer is being driven by a range of factors.  

He cites a loss in sales and market share as indicators of a need to put the customer first, while the survey also indicated that data is becoming increasingly prominent within business strategy.  The coupling of the two has forced the enterprise into examining the entire customer experience.

Digital transformation is not just customer led, however.  51% of the sample said that they were motivated by potential growth opportunities, while 41 % cited competitive pressures. Another 38%  also mentioned regulatory standards, such as Europe’s GDPR privacy protection standard.

The survey highlighted other areas that businesses are choosing to invest in as part of their digital transformations.  In terms of tech, cloud-based services came out on top. Cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data, internet of things (IoT), analytics, mobile, and e-commerce follow closely behind.   These are THE top trends which have leapt to our attention over the past couple of years, and they will continue to be prominent over 2019 and beyond.

Increasingly customers are expecting a seamless and fully integrated user experience.  As customers, our standards are high. Digital platforms such as Uber and even Tinder have raised our benchmark of performance.  We expect these levels of integration…whether we are dating, ordering a cab or buying a pot of paint from B&Q!

It is not just us as users that demand these levels of performance.  Employees are also demanding improvements when it comes to the tools they use for themselves and to serve their customers. It appears that companies not only have to stay digitally relevant to keep their customers, but also to attract and retain the top talent.  

Of late, Ignite Digital Talent has supported a number of large, household names as they undergo a period of major digital transformation.  Broadly speaking too, we have found that a growing number of corporations have escalated their efforts to embrace digital technologies.

We have sourced data scientists, Business and Intelligence Analysts, Cloud AWS engineers, Developers, QA and automation testers, DevOps engineers, digital analysts….the list is endless!  In short, professionals with a host of specialisms; all of which are vital in creating that perfect user journey.

Are you a data, tech or digital professional looking to take the next step in your career?  Would you like to drive innovation and support our exciting clients on their digital journies?   We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with us today!

 

About the author: I ensure that everyone at Ignite Digital Talent brings our brand values to life. I focus on building great relationships with both clients and candidates whilst also unearthing the best digital marketing professionals and opportunities on the market.

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