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Newly launched fintechs hoping to disrupt the market in 2020

Bó, Kinetic, Mettle, Fronted, Robinhood all look to challenge incumbents in 2020.

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Traditional banks fighting back with their disruptors lead the charge of fintechs to watch in 2020. Here, AltFi charts those recently launched fintechs worth keeping an eye on in the year ahead.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) launched its digital bank Bó in November last year, in an effort to take market share from challengers like Monzo,Revolut and Starling.

At launch, Bó had signed up around 3,500 customers to its current accounts-which come with a bright yellow Visa payment card-through its app, which is designed to encourage people to budget and save better. It is targeting the nearly 17m Britons with savings of less than £100.

The state-backed lender is expected to launch an advertising blitz early this year to support the launch of its challenger bank brand, which is digital-only with no branches. RBS Group subsidiary NatWest launched Bó on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Bó CEO Mark Bailie, a long-standing RBS executive who was latterly Chief Operating Officer, told the FT he is hoping to attract "a few million" current accounts to Bó over the next four to five years.

Bailie said: "In this digital, contactless age, people need support manage their money more than ever. It is all too easy to lose control. Our data suggests that three quarters of people in the UK are living financially unsustainable lives. We want to help change this."

"We are launching Bó to help people built the habits and routines that will allow them to do money better day-by-day and week after week so they can fund their lives and lifestyles in a more sustainable way."

Read more: RBS officially launches digital bank 


Likewise, High Street rival HSBC is preparing to launch a digital bank called Kinetic to take on the likes of challenger Tide in the SME banking space.

The app-based banking service was rolled out in testing mode in November last year. It offers small businesses mobile-managed current accounts, overdraft facilities and spending advice.

While the app will be starting with standard digital banking features, in the future, HSBC says it will be adding advanced cash flow predictions to help sole traders and limited companies understand their financial health.

HSBC is looking to aggressively take on its mobile-only rivals with a £100 Amazon gift promotions for early sign-ups.

Kinetic is expected to fully launch to the public in 2020, and has been created by HSBC "based on real-life insights from over 2,400 UK businesses."

Unlike Tide's Business Account, Kinetic is free during the beta testing period, but this could change once the bank launches to the public.

Peter McIntyre, Head of UK Small Business Banking for HSBC, said the bank wanted to lure in hundreds of thousands of customers to Kinetic and to launch the brand in other countries where HSBC operates.

Kinetic is already integrated with Xero's accounting package on its proposition.

Read more: HSBC poised to launch app-only SME bank Kinetic


Mettle is the business bank stablemate of Bó, launched by RBS group-owned NatWest last year as a digital-only offering for business banking customers.

Mettle is a standalone bank with its own CEO, Marieke Flament, who has previously run cryptocurrency firm Circle.

Mettle doesn’t charge fees and its features include offering customers speedy account signups and notifications for chasing payments and creating invoices.

NatWest said it was working with its customers on how best to develop the proposition.

Alison Rose, Chief Executive of Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest, said:” The premise for Mettle lets our customers focus on ‘forward-looking’ finances, combining technology and proactive insights so SMEs can make better decisions and run their businesses more successfully."

The move comes as SME banking in the UK is rapidly heating up—in part driven by cash distributed by NatWest’s parent company RBS, which has given away £775m to encourage competition in the business banking sector as a condition of its 2008 bailout.

Unlike Bó, Mettle will not use NatWest’s banking licence but is rather an e-money company, so it can’t offer overdraft facilities and is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Read more:  NatWest “flanker” bank Mettle poaches Circle's Marieke Flament as CEO


Aside from ventures from traditional banks, other fintechs likely to generate interest in 2020 include Fronted, a new London-based startup. Fronted is hoping to disrupt the tenant finance market.

The venture is being headed up by a trio of tech executives, Jamie Campbell,Simon Vans-Colina and Anthony Mann, who previously worked at Bud,Monzo and Apple respectively.

One of Fronted’s key offerings will be letting tenants pay rental instalments in deposits, though landlords and agents will receive the money in full direct via Fronted.

Campbell told TechCrunch: “Renting sucks — anyone who rents knows it. There are so many problems to solve and we intend to tackle them all bit by bit. But first, we are going to pay people’s rent deposits for them so they can pay us back in bite-size manageable amounts."

“Deposits are a large upfront expense and most people either use mum and dad to sort it out or stay where they are (in the worst cases they do to pay-day lenders).”

Fronted, which is still developing its proposition, will use Open Banking technology to scrutinise a tenant’s financial wellbeing before lending and believes it can lend more cheaply by financing deposits directly rather than by using credit cards and overdrafts.

Read more: Former Bud, Monzo and Apple employees want to make life easier for renters


Robinhood, the $7.6bn (£5.8bn) US personal-investment disruptor, is hoping to make a big play in the UK when it launches this year.

The UK launch is Robinhood's first international foray outside of the US.

As the fintech firm that popularised commission-free share trading, Robinhood’s move to the UK will certainly bring a shake-up amid rising competition in the self-directed investment market.

Recently, there has been plenty of new competition within the retail investor market in the UK with the launch of zero-fee share trading from Freetrade and Revolut and industry leader Hargreaves Lansdown embroiled in the scandal surrounding fallen ‘star’ fund manager Neil Woodford.

Ex-Plum and Transferwise exec Wander Rutgers is President at Robinhood UK, leading the launch. He currently has a team of about 10 in the UK. 

Robinhood will not launch with an Individual Savings Account offering initially but will likely have it on its product roadmap.

In the UK Robinhood will offer unlimited commission-free trades, no account minimum, with access to a broad range of US and global stocks including 3500+ US stocks listed on NYSE and Nasdaq and 1000+ global stocks but will not offer full access to the FTSE 350 pool of firms.

Robinhood, which was founded in 2013 by Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt and launched in the US in 2015, has more than six million customers. It raised $323m (£247m) Series E funding round, at a $7.6bn (£5.8bn) valuation, in July 2019.

Read more:  US fintech giant Robinhood to take on Hargreaves and Freedtrade with UK launch

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