The FinTech Five – 11th September 2021

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Welcome to the FinTech Five, the part of the week where we take a closer look at the best articles, news, and features from over the past week from our FinTech Wales members.

1. Sonovate to treble its tech team with new hires as recruitment lending soars

First this week, just weeks after reaching £55m in monthly originations, recruitment lender Sonovate has decided to treble the size of its tech and product team to deal with demand.

Its hiring, according to Sonovate, will see the tech team grow from 20 to 60 people by early next year, based between its London and Cardiff offices.

Sonovate offers invoice financing for contract workers, providing around £2bn in funding to date, and sits as a platform between workers and agencies to ensure they get paid on time.

“We’re proud that we kept the funding taps firmly on during the pandemic, when many others didn’t, and I think the growth we’re seeing now is a reward for the faith we showed in our clients during a uniquely challenging time,” said CEO and co-founder Richard Prime.

“This is a key time for any business focused on supporting freelancers and contingent workers.”

As well as UK hires, Prime also said the company is preparing to start hiring internationally—given it supports contractors and agencies in over 40 countries—with the first continental Europe hires planned for 2023, followed by the US.

“Here in the UK we’re only starting to see the potential of Lending as a Service. We’re pleased to be at the forefront of this emerging scene, which will be key to Sonovate’s continued growth over the coming years.”

Read the full article here. 

2. Seopa Ltd Fintech scholarship in hunt for Welsh talent 

Next, Fintech company Seopa Ltd, parent company of financial comparison platform, has announced the return of its highly sought-after scholarship programme for higher education students, an initiative that has been specifically designed to help foster greater diversity in the fintech sector here in Wales.

The aim of the scholarship is to encourage students from outside the world of fintech to explore what it could potentially offer them as a career and enter a short but insightful blog post on what the next generation see as the future of fintech. 

Data from a wide range of research firms and government agencies, including the Department for Education, suggests the talent shortage is the single biggest concern for senior leaders in the financial services industry.

As an emerging tech region, Wales is home to 3,500 homegrown multinational technology operations, and has the fastest growing digital economy outside of London. The nation’s tech sector is worth an estimated £8.2bn to the Welsh economy, employing almost 44,000 people.  The growth of the financial and professional sector in Wales has led to a thriving Fintech community, supported by the region’s incubator and co-working spaces. 

Seopa’s approach to fostering greater diversity in its sector has been hailed by politicians, academics and business leaders across the UK.  Sarah Williams-Gardener, CEO of Fintech Wales comments: 

“The Quotezone Fintech Scholarship recognises that Fintech companies require more than just the highly valued financial and computer science skills. Innovative transformational solutions require marketeers, lawyers and product designers – as it takes the full complement to create the next evolution of financial services, embracing open finance, digital currencies, green finance and most importantly, designing with the consumer at the heart. At Fintech Wales we truly believe an inclusive and diverse team can result in great innovation.”

Greg Wilson, the fintech entrepreneur behind comparison site, had this to say about the company’s Quotezone Fintech Scholarship:  

“Talented graduates are the lifeblood of the fintech sector and in our experience, teams that are more diverse tend to perform better and create more sustainable growth for the business.  

“The financial sector is being reinvented and we need aspiring students to think outside the box and drive innovation forward.  The list of contributions made to fintech by those with non-traditional backgrounds is extensive and the main driver behind the disruptive nature of fintech which has been so pivotal in embracing change.

“We want this scholarship to be a trigger that opens minds and shows talented young Welsh students where they could be in 5 years’ time.”

The deadline to apply for’s Fintech Scholarship is 31st December 2021, full details of how to apply are available here: Quotezone Fintech Scholarship.  The successful candidate will receive a £1,000 bursary which can be used to cover part of the cost of their studies, course materials or any other living expenses.  Each of the UK’s four regions will have their own individual winner. 

3. Wales Start-up Awards 2021 Winners Revealed

*Pictured above are the 90 finalists in the Wales Start-Up Awards*

Next, this Thursday saw the Wales Start-Up awards held at Depot Cardiff, in which 90 finalists were nominated for 28 awards in total.

The Wales Startup awards showcase the best new businesses in Wales every year and is only open to Welsh firms less than three years old. Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, who created the awards in 2015, said that despite the enormous challenges faced by businesses across Wales during the pandemic, new firms had continued to make a significant impact

“It would be an understatement to say that the last eighteen months has been a challenge to the Welsh business community. Yet, despite everything, there have been record numbers of new firms established in Wales during the worst economic crisis in over three hundred years. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has not only created amazing new opportunities for entrepreneurs but, more importantly, startups have made an outstanding contribution to keeping the economy going at the most difficult of times.

FinTech Wales would like to offer a massive congratulations to all of the finalists and winners who, despite the business challenges of the last year, have made a real difference to the Welsh economy. 

Amongst the winners were FinTech Wales members Yoello, who won four awards in total in the following categories:

  • Cardiff Start-Up of the Year
  • Fintech Start-Up of the Year
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Sina Yamani
  • Wales Start-Up of the Year

FinTech Wales members Monva and Ship Shape were also nominated for the FinTech Start-Up of the year award. 

A full list of the winners can be found on the Wales Start-Up Awards website, here. 

4. Hodge’s head of investment finance, Andy Button, lists ‘5 ways to improve a property’s EPC rating’ in NACFB’s September Magazine. 

Next, after receiving feedback from landlords on just how important Green Energy was to their investments, Hodge put together a handy guide on improving a property’s EPC rating. Featured in the NACFB‘s September magazine, you can read what Hodge’s head of investment finance, Andy Button, has to say on page 52. 

“The higher the energy efficiency of a property, the more environmentally friendly it is. Alongside rental yield and capital growth, landlords put ‘environmentally friendly’ properties in their top three list of priorities when it comes to purchasing new homes. With this in mind, NACFB Patron Hodge has compiled a list of five key enhancements your landlord clients can carry out to make an environmentally friendly difference to their property, improve the EPC rating as well as cutting costs that are wasted on energy bills.”, explains Andy. 

Andy’s top 5 tips are as follows:

  • Upgrade the lighting to LED
  • Insulate the walls and roof
  • Invest in double glazing 
  • Install an efficient boiler
  • Get a smart meter

Click here to read Any Burton’s full piece on page 52 of NACFB’s September magazine. 

5. Backbase Recognized as a Leader in Digital Banking Engagement Platforms and Hubs Evaluations by Independent Research Firm

Last but not least this week, Engagement Banking technology provider Backbase has been named a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Digital Banking Engagement Platforms Q3 2021 report, as well as a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Digital Banking Engagement Hubs, Q3 2021 report.

These reports by independent research analyst firm Forrester show how each vendor measures up and aims to help banks select the right partner for their engagement banking platform strategy. In both reports, Backbase was evaluated among the most significant vendors across 35 (DBEP) and 30 (DEBH) criteria respectively.

In the Digital Banking Engagement Platforms Wave, Forrester states that

“Backbase has some of the most comprehensive retail, business, and corporate banking apps and services in this evaluation. The solution stands out for its architectural sophistication, flexibility, and extensive delivery options and shows no real weaknesses today.”

The DBEP Wave goes on to state that Backbase is a good choice for banks seeking a solution that provides both state-of-the-art technology and broad off-the-shelf business capabilities, as well as the necessary customer experience flexibility. We believe these benefits make Backbase a strong partner for any bank that wants to adopt a legacy-free, unified platform approach, while at the same time delivering the right off-the-shelf capabilities and still have the flexibility to optimise their offerings tailored to their customers.

Jouk Pleiter, CEO and Founder at Backbase:

“We are proud to see that, in our opinion, we’ve further solidified our position as a leader in Engagement Banking. We started our journey with an ambition to disrupt the industry by offering something radically different: a legacy-free, unified platform, delivering seamless experiences for both customers and employees. We believe the recognition from such a respected analyst firm validates our vision and strategy. We will continue to deliver on it by further building our Engagement Banking Platform, combining best-in-class technology with the execution leadership required to help our customers, banks of all sizes, unlock the value of their digital transformation.”

Read the full announcement on Backbase’s website, here. 

Until Next Week

And that’s it for the FinTech Five this week. Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to join us next week for more of the best content from across our FinTech Wales membership.

If you want to join our dynamic FinTech Wales community, then click here to learn more about the exclusive benefits FinTech Wales membership has to offer.