News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

crowd on a railway platform

1. UK – FinTech  


AltFi runs a blog on the post-Covid recovery: 

“As the CEO of a company that specialises in serving UK small business, it’s probably no surprise that I believe start-ups and micro-businesses will play a crucial role as the UK economy recovers from the Covid-19 crisis or that I believe those companies will need support from innovative fintechs and challengers who are focused on their need. 

But, even as the world scrambles to understand what the post-Covid ‘new normal’ will look like, there are already some good indicators to support my (admittedly somewhat biased) view.    

First, in July, UK company formations hit a record monthly high, topping 80,000 for the first time.  

Some of these new companies are responding to opportunities arising from Covid-19, some will be people starting again after previous ventures have failed under the stress of the pandemic and some will be people who still have jobs—including the 9m individuals still on Government furlough—anticipating redundancy or waiting for the right time to strike out on their own. 

Second, there is a steady stream of redundancy announcements flowing from the FTSE indexes, including 7,000 jobs at Marks and Spencer, once considered a bellwether of the UK consumer economy.  

Unfortunately, this trend looks likely to continue and worsen as the Government’s furlough scheme winds down and companies are left facing a full wage bill and, in many sectors, drastically reduced revenues.  

SME already provide 95 per cent of UK private sector jobs and this record-breaking company formation data suggests they’ll be called on to pick up the slack as bigger companies are forced to make redundancies. 

I believe that our entrepreneurs, freelancers and independent tradespeople are up to the task of leading the UK economy back to growth, but in an uncertain post-Covid world they will need banking services that are as nimble as they will need to be.” 


2. UK – FinTech 

The Fintech Times reports: 


“Fintech has given its thumb up to the government’s coronavirus Kickstart job scheme which is hoped will subsidise hundreds of thousands of work placements for under-25s, although the volume of roles to be created may cause a stumbling block for some. 

From today, the Kickstart scheme is now active but requires a minimum of 30 new roles to be created before an application can be started. However, smaller companies can partner with other organisations to reach the required amount. A £300 admin grant to support the administration costs of partnering is on also on offer.” 


3. UK – FinTech 


Digital wealth disruptor Freetrade has teamed up with financial API provider Truelayer to launch open banking within its app so users can fund accounts more quickly, according to AltFi. 

Freetrade’s 200,000 customers will now, following the introduction of TrueLayer’s open banking data and payment APIs, be able to connect their primary bank account to its app, offering quick and secure funding using Payments Initiation.  

This will allow users to fund their accounts much faster and therefore be able to react more quickly to invest commission-free in stocks and ETFs available on the Freetrade platform.   

Fintechs focused on saving and investing have benefited during the coronavirus pandemic for two reasons. Lockdown prompted many, particularly young people, to re-engage with their financial lives. Secondly the March stock market crash and subsequent central bank induced rally invited strong interest from investors in ‘buying the dip’ in risk assets, particularly retail investors.  

Freetrade says the new open banking functionality will allow users to make more “timely investment decisions”.  

4. UK – AltFi 

Finextra reports: 

“First Direct has appointed a new CEO to replace previous incumbent Joe Gordon, who jumped ship in May to work on a new challenger bank brand. 

Gordon was a star appointment for first direct in 2017, becoming the youngest boss of a major UK bank at the age of 33. He previously worked for Sainsbury’s, BT and for HSBC as head of its call centres for two years.

Gordon surprisingly quit the direct bank in May to join Heyman AI as head of retail banking. Heyman AI is in the process of building a challenger bank Yuu, which will compete directly with his former employer.

First direct has once again turned to its majority shareholder HSBC to appoint Gordon's successor, naming Chis Pitt, currently head of marketing at HSBC UK, as CEO.” 


5. International – FinTech 

Crowdfundinsider reports: 

IRISnet, which aims to serve as an interchain service hub for next-generation distributed applications, has revealed that its decentralized finance (DeFi) and interchain Bifrost testnet are scheduled to go live on September 2, 2020. 

The platform’s new testing environment will check the “unique” DeFi features of IRISnet. It will also test the integration with the latest version of Cosmos SDK, and also the multi-Hub collaboration via the inter-blockchain protocol (IBC) protocol. 

As mentioned in a blog post by IRISnet, the platform will introduce the Bifrost Testnet so that it can support IBC and certain DeFi features, and also support the Cosmos Network’s interchain vision. The Bifrost Testnet will be launched on September 2, which is just a week after the Stargate Testnet. Both test networks will be running side by side.”