31st Jan, 2018

Women in FinTech North

FinTech North are excited to share announcements for next month’s Women in FinTech (North) seminar. The upcoming breakfast seminar will take place on Friday 23rd February in collaboration with Leeds City Council, and will be held at Leeds Beckett University.

The FinTech North events are for anyone interested in the region’s Financial Services and FinTech ecosystem. This event in particular will be championing diversity in the northern FinTech sector.

Participants and panellists will discuss broader gender balance issues in the sector, consider how FinTech and other financial services firms have sought to improve diversity within their organisations, and analyse the benefits of doing so. Participants will also examine the HMT Women in Finance Charter, its role as a catalyst for change and why FinTech firms should consider signing the Charter.

Speakers and panellists confirmed to date include:

– Laura Bailey, Founder, Qadre & Spokesperson, British Blockchain Association (Chair)

– Sara Parker, Director, Alban Parker & North Invest

– Georgina Mitchell, Non-Executive Director, rebuildingsociety.com

– Sarah Tulip, Chief Operations Officer, aql

– Jay Sheth, Head of Diversity, Virgin Money

– Zandra Moore, CEO, Panintelligence

– Chris Sier, FinTech Envoy to the Northern Powerhouse, visiting professor of Financial Technology at University of Leeds.

This seminar will begin with a networking breakfast at 8.30am, and is expected to finish at 11.00am.

Sign up for a spot here.


29th Jan, 2018

Leeds City Council is to Support Local Businesses on rebuildingsociety.com

Leeds City Council are going to begin lending to regional businesses on our peer-to-business lending platform. By lending alongside the crowd, the council will demonstrate their support of small- and medium-sized businesses in the region.

Leeds City Council (LCC) has been proactive recently in promoting the FinTech sector, and supports and sponsors the monthly FinTech North Friday seminars which take place in Leeds on a monthly basis. This new collaboration with rebuildingsociety.com forms part of the council’s ongoing regional economic growth strategy.

The team at the council will review business loan requests from companies with an LS postcode prefix, consider the industry and location of the company, and contribute to the loan amounts required by suitable applicants. Council representatives will review the performance of their portfolio on a quarterly basis to evaluate the efficacy of the capital committed, as part of the council’s broader, macroeconomic objectives.

The focus of traditional finance sector on maximising short-term returns often leads to a misallocation of financial resource. This in turns means that central government must allocate funding for specific initiatives of economic stimulation, while simultaneously committing to deliver a return.

Daniel Rajkumar, rebuildingsociety.com Founder and Managing Director, believes the proposal will provide great financial support to the area. “There is no need to rely on London for local funding needs. By arranging finance online and locally, regions can prosper and go on to further support local communities.”

Simon Brereton, Acting Head of Economic Policy and Sector Development at Leeds City Council, commented: “This is the first public sector organisation to be investing through rebuildingsociety.com. We hope it will attract the interest of other public-sector lenders, as well as prospective borrowers.”

16th Jan, 2018

Are You a Business Owner With A Director’s Loan?

Are you a director who has lent money to your business as a director’s loan? Are you using the IFISA to save you tax on the interest repayments of this loan?

Many successful entrepreneurs and business owners know what it means to have skin in the game. Funding their business through their own finances is often the cheapest and most cost-effective way for a business owner to raise capital – and sometimes it can be the only way.


15th Jan, 2018

The First FinTech North of 2018

On Friday, 12th January, over 110 people attended the inaugural 2018 FinTech North breakfast seminar hosted by the Open Data Institute (ODI).

FTN January Julian 2Julian Wells, Director of Whitecap Consulting, chaired the event. He gave guests a warm welcome, before offering a brief overview and history of the FinTech North initiative, and then introducing Paul Connell, the Founder and Head of Innovation at the ODI.

Paul Connell gave an overview of the ODI, explaining how the Leeds business and technology ecosystem has been a great environment for the establishment. The ODI published a concise overview of the UK’s brand new Open Banking rules on their blog here.

Friday’s event saw the introduction of a new element of the event: pitching sessions. This initiative gives five or six companies the opportunity to pitch their innovative Financial Services ideas to the panel and audience. Forming the panel on Friday were: Stuart Clarke, Founder of Leeds Digital Festival, Julian Graham-Rack, CEO of Curo, Will Schaffer, Entrepreneurship Coach at NorthInvest, and  Richard Carter, Managing Director at Equiniti Credit Services.

The Pitches

Each pitch participant was given 10 minutes to explain their proposition, and then five minutes to answer questions posed by the panel and the audience.

Pitch 1 – First Direct (Bud)

Bud offers a banking app and website that allows users to use all their financial apps in one place; whether these correspond to traditional banks, FinTech companies or other financial services. The company has its roots in Harrogate but is based in London, having participated in the FCA’s regulatory sandbox.

“People naturally look to banks to manage their finances. The reason they leave to challenger banks is for that added customer experience. So with Bud, we’ve tried to create a modern, engaging experience within the security of First Direct, which we think provides something of real value.” Sam Oakley, Bud

Pitch 2 – IceFire 

FTN January IceFireOve Kreison, Head of R&D at IceFire, came all the way from Estonia to speak at Friday’s event. The company was recently represented in the north of England at November’s DIT Northern Powerhouse Nordic-Baltic FinTech Mission. They hope to continue to develop relationships with UK finance and technology providers.

Ove explained to interested audience and panel members how IceFire is making the most of the progressive digital society in Estonia. The company provides various solutions that are designed to help banks and other organisations offer improved digital services to their clients. The company, whose clients include Skype, offer solutions that include an online lending platform a banking platform and KYC/authentication technology.

“We are the company that makes money move in finance provider systems” – IceFire

Pitch 3 – Investly

FTN January InvestlySiim Maivel, CEO of invoice finance marketplace Investly, a company founded in Estonia and now operating in the UK, explained how the company connects SMEs with hedge funds and other portfolio providers. Investors compete on the Investly platform, providing a better deal on finance to SMEs. Investly can set up accounts within hours, a vast improvement of the standard period of up to three weeks, and processes most invoice finances in under two hours. The main sectors featured are construction, manufacturing and logistics.

Investly provides a white label plug in solution for finance providers that helps them engage with business customers, providing value adding services through efficient and easy invoice finance. Siim commented that Leeds provides a strong regional flagship centre for connecting with SMEs, going through financial providers. He and the team hope to continue to establish relationships in the north of England, and will potentially return to FinTech North events in the future.

Pitch 4 – investUP

FTN January investUpinvestUp is an aggregator for peer-to-peer investors which currently partners with 15 different platforms. The team are currently planning the extension of this offering, to be an investment management platform that allows users to invest across different cybercurrencies.

Managing Director, Daniel Rajkumar, explained how this idea is designed to offer services to those who want to be part of the P2P and cryptocurrency sectors, but who do not want to pay for professional advice from intermediaries. The offering would respond to a demand for a platform that can use advanced technology to manage investments; investUp allows users to set their robo-lending settings in a way that suits their investment appetite.

investUp Operations Manager Kieron Greeff then went on to give an overview of the exponential growth of the cryptocurrency market, detailing the company’s plans to simplify the complex nature of investing in such currencies.

InvestUp is currently raising funding to develop its proposition and is interested in hearing from potential investors.

Pitch 5 – LociPay

Kurtis Wright gave the fifth and final pitch of the morning. He is the founder of early-stage startup, LociPay, a company that will provide a smart payments and Point-of-Sale system for local independent SMEs. LociPay helps businesses via various services, providing a platform that showcases the retailers’ brand and offering; managing payments; offering engagement and loyalty reward programs; and offering lower transaction costs. LociPay also helps consumers by rounding up their transactions to the nearest pound, helping them to save, as well as providing data-driven budgeting support.

The Panel

A short panel discussion followed the pitches, and drew the event to a close. One of the key topics covered in the talks was the need for growth support in the north, to help both create and develop FinTech businesses. This was in addition to discussions regarding the necessity of open dialogue and communication in showcasing the region’s FinTech initiatives and capabilities, with the intention of creating more collaboration.

The topic of investment was also on the panel’s lips. NorthInvest’s Will Shaffer invited attendees to contact him to discuss funding requirements, while Equiniti Credit Services Managing Director, Richard Carter, commented: “FinTechs shouldn’t have to go down to London to get investment and mentorship, we need to grow that function in the Leeds City Region.” Julian Graham-Rack from Curo encouraged people who discuss open banking opportunities with him.

Stuart Clarke, founder of Leeds Digital Festival, extolled the virtues of events such as FinTech North, explaining how the city stands to benefit, and informed attendees that this year’s festival will take place between the 19 – 27th April. The FinTech North Leeds conference will be held on the 26th April.

Julian Wells brought the event to a close, taking the opportunity to thank the ODI for hosting and all those who participated for taking part. He confirmed that the next FinTech North seminar, to be dedicated to the topic of Women in FinTech (North), will be held on the 23rd February. You can sign up for a spot here, already.

09th Jan, 2018

Kylie Greeff Shortlisted for Women in Compliance Award

At rebuildingsociety.com, we are excited to announce that our Compliance Manager, Kylie Greeff, has been shortlisted for a Women in Compliance Award. Kylie is one of just five women listed in the Compliance Officer of the Year for Small-Sized Company category.

case-study-KylieThe Women in Compliance Awards celebrate female professionals in the industry on an international level. Shortlisted candidates hail from countries all over the world; from Poland, Italy, Denmark and Germany, to Argentina, South Africa, Malaysia and India. The Awards intend to highlight outstanding initiatives, individuals and teams who form part of this innovative, ever-evolving industry sector.

Kylie is an integral, leading member of our management team. It is true to say that without her, the company would not exist; and it certainly wouldn’t run smoothly on a daily basis.

A key member of rebuildingsociety.com since the company’s launch in 2012, Kylie has always been there to take responsibility for the legal, operations and compliance tasks intrinsic to a P2B lending platform. She recently successfully headed up our application to the FCA to become one of the country’s first fully-authorised peer-to-business crowdfunding platforms. Since then, rather than resting on her success, she has spearheaded the compliance framework surrounding our new Innovative Finance ISA product launch. Through her compliance oversight and planning, we have been able to successfully introduce a new regulated Innovative Finance ISA product.

“I’m honoured to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award, which has attracted such great talent from around the world. Financial Services can often feel like a very male-dominated profession; it’s fantastic that women within compliance and FS are being recognised for their contribution and hard work.”

Kylie is a humble individual who would always look to downplay her individual contribution to the success of our firm. We, however, biased as we may be, can’t think of a worthier candidate for a Women in Compliance award, and are delighted that Kylie has received recognition for the hard work, dedication and expertise she demonstrates and employs every day. We’ll have our fingers crossed on 22nd March!

04th Jan, 2018

January News

Last month, we announced that the FinTech North Friday events would continue in 2018, and that the inaugural event of the year will take place in Leeds next Friday, the 12th January.

The morning seminar, hosted by the Open Data Institute, will begin with a networking breakfast, that will be followed by pitching sessions and a panel discussion.

We are very pleased to announce that CURO and Equiniti Credit Services are sponsoring the seminar. CURO Transatlantic is part of CURO. The Leeds-based online loan provider has over 20 years of experience and is regulated by the FCA. Equiniti Credit Services aims to transform the credit landscape, servicing a diverse range of lending portfolios.

We are also excited to confirm the first three speakers for our FinTech pitching session. This new element of the event gives between four and six companies the chance to pitch presentations of their propositions to the attendees.

The five companies confirmed to pitch at next week’s event are:

–  First Direct (Bud) – a new white label banking platform working on the principles of open banking.
–  Investly – a pan-European invoice finance provider for SMEs.
–  InvestUp – a robo-investing platform that enables P2P investors to manage their portfolio across multiple platforms.
–  LociPay – a Sheffield based peer-to-peer payments and loyalty reward platform.
–  IceFire – an Estonian consulting firm specialising in FinTech.

Following the pitches, a panel discussion will take place. Participating in this are:

–  Stuart Clarke, Leeds Digital Festival
–  Richard Carter, MD, Equiniti Credit Services
–  Julian Graham-Rack, CEO, Curo
–  William Schaffer, Investor Relations Manager & Entrepreneur Coach, NorthInvest

Book a place now before spots fill up!


03rd Jan, 2018

CCAF Publishes Fourth UK Alternative Finance Industry Report

At the end of last year, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) published the fourth annual UK Alternative Finance Industry Report.

CCAF logo-2For several years now, the University of Cambridge and its partners have made it their mission to both record and evaluate the growth and development of the UK’s online alternative finance industry. This UK Alternative Finance Industry Report is a result of extensive research and analysis. The CCAF surveyed more than 8,300 users of online alternative finance, as well as 77 crowdfunding and P2P UK-based platforms, including rebuildingsociety.com.

As Bryan Zhang, Co-Founder and Executive Director at the CCAF, comments in the Executive Summary: “Online alternative finance has become an ever more established component of the UK financial landscape.” According to the report, the UK online alternative finance market grew by 43% in 2016, increasing from £3.2 billion to £4.6 billion.

In the report, peer-to-peer business, consumer and property lending are listed as the models with the highest market volume; of £1,232 million, £1,169 million and £1,147 million respectively. Invoice financing, debt-based securities and equity-based crowdfunding follow behind. As expected, London is the area with both the highest number of respondent platforms, and the region that receives the most funding. The north of England accounts for just under 12% of the platforms included in the research.

CCAF Size & Growth by ModelApproximately 72% of the 2016 UK alternative finance market volume – equating to £3.3 billion – was raised for the country’s start-ups and SMEs. This was a 50% increase on the year before, with 33,000 firms using alternative finance options, in comparison to the 20,000 in 2015.

An impressive 64% of the market volume is attributed to just five of the largest platforms. While 2016 saw few new entrants in the market, and the closure of over 35% of existing platforms, the trend of established traditional finance institutions incorporating alternative finance elements into their services continued.

In addition to compiling these facts and figures, the CCAF also recorded views and opinions about the FCA in the report. Over 80% of those questioned stated that they believe the FCA’s ongoing crowdfunding regulatory review process to be adequate and appropriate.

Entrenching Innovation – the 4th UK Alternative Finance Industry Report can be downloaded for free here.

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