Why We’re Running An Open Banking Prize


From early 2018, “Open Banking” will be a reality in the UK. Most small businesses will, for the first time, be able to share their banking data securely with trusted third parties via API, and allow providers other than their bank to make payments from their account. It’s the most ambitious scheme of its kind anywhere in the world, and could lead to a revolution in UK retail banking.

The Open Up Challenge is a challenge prize by Nesta situated at the forefront of this open banking transformation. We’ll be supporting 20 talented teams from across the world who can take this unique opportunity to develop next-generation services, apps and tools that will create game-changing value for UK small businesses. In doing so, our goal is to drive greater transparency, choice and innovation for small business customers.

The Challenge was selected by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as one of a package of remedies aimed at shaking up retail banking. Our 20 Stage 1 participants will be announced soon.


What is a challenge prize?

The Open Up Challenge is run by Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, through Nesta’s wholly owned subsidiary Nesta Enterprises Limited. The prize is backed by the CMA, with funding from eight of the UK’s largest providers of SME banking – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Santander, AIB Group (UK) p.l.c, Bank of Ireland UK and Danske Bank.

Nesta is a global innovation foundation with a mission to spark and shape new ideas to improve how the world works for everyone. Within Nesta, the Challenge Prize Centre uses prizes to stimulate innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face. The Challenge Prize Centre is behind successful initiatives including the Longitude Prize and the UNDP Renewable Energy Prize.

Challenge prizes are a simple idea. A problem or opportunity is identified, the challenge is publicised and rewards offered to those who can deliver the best solutions. Challenge prizes harness the ingenuity of people with the right knowledge and expertise to tackle them.

The Open Up Challenge brings this proven model to data-driven innovation for small businesses. It builds on Nesta’s extensive activity at the cutting edge of fintech and data science thought leadership:

  • Nesta’s pioneering research on alternative finance in the UK, beginning in 2010, preceded that industry’s rapid growth to become a mainstream source of finance for UK small businesses.
  • The Open Data Challenge series comprised seven prizes to generate innovative and sustainable solutions to social challenges using open data.
  • Tech Nation 2016 used cutting edge data techniques to map the UK’s tech entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • Nesta has been campaigning for many years to promote digital making and coding skills, promoting computer science in the curriculum, and code clubs of all kinds.