Cristian Garcia

Digital Business Strategy

where data and creativity collide

Fintech StartUps in UK

This is my 2nd post on the fintech scenario in the UK, you can check the first one here.

Last time, I went through some of the larger players in the UK -from banks, to no-banks and intermediaries- now I want to explore the startups adding value to the market.


London is “digital”, or at least the income per person is high, technology is widespread (I lost count on how many people I have seen paying with their Apple Watch) and connectivity is good; all the elements are on place to create a cashless society.

We also have a strong payment infrastructure, here you can pay through:

  • BACS: take 3 banking days to process, but just a few pence to make
  • Chaps: a same-day automated payment system for processing payments made within the UK, cost around £ 25-£ 30
  • Faster payments: quicker than Bacs, cheaper than Chaps
  • Cheques
  • Link
  • Visa
  • Mastercard

To access this payment infrastructure, you can only rely on 4 major banks, which can provide all of the elements pointed before. The oligopoly is being disrupted once again by fintech companies eager to change the status quo.

Some banks have setup a proper startup ecosystem to accelerate innovation; Barclays is leading the way with its RISE program, which is active in many countries and other banks like Citi have adapted their strategy to be full digital. On top of this you have new banks like Metro, which is fully digital and lately, it has been opening physical branches everywhere.

But there’s another player: the non financial companies entering the fintech.

In London, most of the generated value comes from Canary Wharf, the financial heart of Europe. This neighborhood employees over 160k people and generates 11.7bn each year (source). Banks have their headquarters here and the fintech industry has its brightest minds running around in these crowded streets.

Following, a collection of Fintech startups that -to me- are doing great things.


  • What: an online money transfer service, which allows you to transfemoney up to 8 times cheaper than with the bank.
  • How: Instead of making one international transfer, two local transfers are made.
  • Why: Banks have been treating people unfairly for decades. Many charge you huge fees when you convert your money to other currencies, then hide more fees in unfair exchange rates.

Atom and Monzo

  • What: a digital, mobile-only bank based in UK
  • How: Open and operate your account from your phone
  • Why: a smart bank for the smartphone generation which does away with things like bricks and mortar branches


  • What: a easy way to collect Direct Debit. It's particularly suited for B2B (business-to-business) and recurring payments.
  • How: for anyone who wants to take payments directly from the bank account of customers in the UK, the Eurozone and Sweden.
  • Why: eliminate middlemen and charge low fees


  • What: Only bank ever to join all UK payment schemes at once, supporting regulators to improve access to payment systems
  • How: is neutral, independent and is not constrained by legacy infrastructure
  • Why: Encourages market competition, making transaction banking faster and more cost effective than ever before with far-reaching consequences for financial services businesses, their customers and the wider economy


  • What: Borrow £1,000 - £150,000 for cash flow, stock or investments. Fast and fair decisions.
  • How: Finance designed for small businesses: fast, fair and flexible.
  • Why: get approved, take the funds, repay or top up


  • What: building the best savings account in the world.
  • How: Connect to your bank account, save automatically and get out of overdraft
  • Why: Save without feeling it, spend on what matters.


  • What: Combine all your cards in one with Curve: the only card you need to carry. A simpler, safer way to manage your money on the go. How: There is no direct arrangement between us and any of the issuers/ banks, and your relationship with your bank/s and credit card provider/s remains the same.
  • Why: One card for all your accounts, with instant updates on your spend habits.


(‘Zone of Possible Agreement’ – a negotiating term that identifies the bounds within which agreement can be reached between two parties.)

  • What: Simple loans, smart investments.
  • How: Zopa is the pioneer of peer-to-peer lending, which uses the internet to cut out the banks entirely.
  • Why: We believe a loan should be there to help you, not hold you back.

Cristian Garcia (cc) by-nc-sa | Made in 🇬🇧 |  2005 - 2019