With nearly £3 billion invested in tech start-ups last year, London is at the forefront of the technological and digital revolution and leads all other European cities in innovative ideas. This sector showed record growth of 4.5%, nearly triple that of the UK’s GDP in the same period.
Apart from their easy accessibility and convenience, one of the key benefits of all these new firms is that they offer their customers complete transparency. This comes as a refreshing change in light of the scandals over the past decade concerning well-known financial institutions. At one time, it seemed as if you couldn’t watch any media coverage without coming across stories of abuse of consumers regarding everything from unauthorised overdrafts to payday loan help.
Of the many fintech firms starting out, we’ve chosen a representative sample of 3 to be on the lookout for.
The Mobile Only Bank, Starling Bank
Founded in 2014, Starling Bank is the only mobile-only bank where you can open an account in seconds. Current account holders can use all the facilities of a bricks-and-mortar banking branch such as setting up direct debits and being issued with a contactless card.
Personal account holders are charged a standard fee of £2 if they inadvertently run up an overdraft, or exceed their overdraft limit. This compares favourably with the complicated fees and charges imposed by High Street banks. Although short term loans aren’t available, they can be found online from direct lenders.
This digital bank also offers unique features to help its customers with their budgeting and savings goals.
The bank is also keen to attract business accounts with a special deal of no fees on certain transactions (such as electronic payments) for firms employing fewer than 10 workers and with an annual turnover of under £1.7 million.
An Alternative Investment Option – Wealthify
Backed by Aviva and with funds protected up to £50,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), Wealthify offers flexible, tailor-made investment options according to its customers’ investment style. Investments can start as low as £1 and can be increased at will, with the opportunity to withdraw whenever they want. The firm charges an annual fee of 0.4-0.7% depending on the value of the investments, and the average fund charges are 0.21%.
Habito - A Unique Mortgage Broker
Set up by Daniel Hegarty, Habito is a tech-based mortgage broker which removes the hassle from time-consuming mortgage applications. Its unique algorithm searches through over 90 different mortgage providers for the best deal for its clients. They are only charged a fee if the application (which Habito completes free of charge on their clients’ behalf) is successful. An expert supplies them with regular updates about the progress of their application.
Recently, the company has branched out into life insurance, but only for its mortgage clients. Without paperwork and the need for medical appointments, taking out a life insurance policy is much faster and easier.