About the Prize

Prize Structure

The total prize fund is £1.5m, distributed as follows:

  • 12 to 15 Finalists will be awarded prize grants of £50k each
  • 3 of these Finalists will be awarded a further £50k each for demonstrating the clearest alignment with the financial inclusion goals of Open Up 2020 (see below: Financial Inclusion & Resilience)
  • 3 to 4 Winners, chosen from the Finalists, will receive prize grants of £150k to £200k each

All prize grants are equity-free. You’ll retain full control of your intellectual property.


Use Cases

We’re looking for products and apps that use open banking to help people better manage their money through more transparent, accessible and fair products. This includes:

  • Personal current account comparison that supports ‘unbundling’ and easy switching to a different account provider
  • Helping people use an overdraft provider that is not their bank and avoid expensive, unexpected fees (‘unbundling’ of overdrafts from personal current accounts)
  • Automated/‘robo’ financial management to help build savings buffers and manage debt
  • Widening access to affordable credit including alternative lending options and innovations in credit scoring
  • Boosting earnings on savings, including high balance sweeping so people earn interest on their credit balance 
  • Micro-payments towards savings

This list is in no way exhaustive and we will be looking for innovative applications that use open banking to tackle a wide range of personal finance-related problems and opportunities.

Social impact is important to us so we have a special focus on ground-breaking apps and products that serve those who are financially excluded.

Key dates: Open Up 2020 will run from November 2019 to October 2020. Applications are now closed. If your app or fintech product is selected, you will receive up to £300,000, equity-free, plus a powerful programme of non-financial and marketing support.

Non Financial Support

During the period November 2019 to October 2020, as a Finalist, you will receive the following non-financial support:

User Experience

Work with our expert partners to set yourselves up for growth. Enhance your approach to signing up new customers, including messaging, addressing fraud and privacy concerns, conversion rate optimisation and analytics & measurement.


Feature prominently in a national digital marketing campaign to drive new users to your service. This campaign has a dedicated budget, paid for by Open Up 2020, and will be planned and executed by our digital marketing partner, in consultation with Finalists.

Peer & Expert Insight

Draw on a programme of support including: sparking cooperation between Finalists tackling common problems, media training with experienced broadcast journalists, and bringing in experts on best practice around messaging, user data, consent and transparency.

Work with OBL

Participants will also have unique opportunities to bring their insight and opinions directly to regulators and policymakers in open data, including via a dedicated contact at the Open Banking Limited, and feedback forums run by OBL just for Finalists

Reporting Requirements

As a condition of your acceptance as a Finalist on to Open Up 2020, at four points over the course of the programme (December, April, and June, September) you will be required to report on certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to subjects such as user adoption, usage, and dropout rates.

Your reported KPIs will be primarily used by Nesta Challenges, the Open Banking Implementation Entity, and the judges to monitor the effectiveness of Open Up 2020 and inform decision-making on prize grants. In addition, your KPIs may contribute to aggregate statistics about all Finalists, collated and shared publicly by Nesta Challenges, but these aggregate statistics will mask your individual KPIs. Note that if you access OBIE API functionality indirectly by using the AISP or PISP capability of an authorised Technology Service Provider (TSP), as a condition of acceptance onto Open Up 2020 you will be required to seek confirmation from your TSP that they will be capable of furnishing you with the appropriate KPIs to report to Nesta.

“Working with mentors that we normally wouldn’t have had access to without the Open Up Challenge really helped us”

Olly Betts
CEO & Founder of OpenWrks, 2018 Challenge Winner

Eligibility Criteria

The technology product or app you enter into Open Up 2020 (“the Product”):

  • Must be aimed at directly serving UK consumers (B2C, “business-to-consumer”), or, if the Product does not directly serve UK consumers, it powers products or services that are themselves directly serving UK consumers (B2B2C, “business-to-business-to-consumer”). B2B (“business-to-business”) products will not be considered. Only Products that will benefit UK consumers will be considered.
  • Must target a total potential market of at least hundreds of thousands, ideally millions of consumers.
  • Must be launched in the UK market at the time of application, or on track to full public launch on or before 31 January 2020. ‘Pre-launch’, ‘closed Beta’ and other ‘testing’-stage Products not on track to meet this deadline will not be considered.
  • Must use the Open Banking Implementation Entity (“OBIE”) API endpoints and conform to the OBIE Read/Write standards (“the Standards”) to programmatically access digital bank account data and/or payments functionality, even if in practice the Product does so indirectly by using the AISP or PISP capability of an authorised Technology Service Provider (“TSP’). Evidence of usage of OBIE API endpoints and conformance to the Standards may be sought by the judges as a condition of acceptance onto Open Up 2020.

Application - Prerequisites

As the organisation applying to Open Up 2020 (“the Entrant”), you:

  • Must be a legally incorporated entity at the time of application. Applications will be accepted from companies, partnerships, civil society organisations and non-profits. Applications from organisations that are not legally incorporated entities will not be considered.
  • Must be FCA authorised or registered as a payment initiation service provider (PISP) or account information service provider (AISP) or authorised or registered within the EEA.
  • Where you are not FCA authorised but are EEA authorised, you must be in receipt of (and be able to supply evidence of, if requested) a relevant passporting permission to undertake PISP or AISP activities.
  • Applications may also be considered from Entrants who are non EEA legally incorporated entities if the Entrant has entered into a valid and legally binding contractual arrangement with an authorised or registered entity who is regulated and permitted to undertake AISP or PISP activities in the UK. Where the Entrant is relying on a regulated third party, the judges reserve the right, in their sole discretion, to request supporting evidence of such contractual arrangements or any other documentation it deems appropriate as a condition of acceptance onto Open Up 2020.
  • Applications will also be accepted from prospective AISPs or PISPs who are not yet authorised by the FCA or a relevant EEA competent authority but have, at the time of application, already submitted an application to the FCA for AISP or PISP authorisation.
  • Applications will also be considered from Entrants who are not yet FCA authorised or registered as a PISP or AISP or a relevant EEA competent authority but whose Product does (and will continue to) access OBIE API functionality indirectly by using the AISP or PISP capability of an authorised Technology Service Provider (TSP).
  • Entrants can submit a joint application with one of more other legally incorporated entities, in which case you will need to nominate a lead organisation for administrative purposes at the time of application. All organisations participating in a joint application must meet the Eligibility Criteria, and may be required to complete due diligence checks and a Conflicts of Interest Declaration.
  • Entrants can submit more than one application, but each application must be for a clearly distinct and separate Product. The judges will only accept one Product per Entrant and it is within the judges’ sole discretion to determine which Product is accepted onto Open Up 2020.
  • Entrants are required to attest to being eligible for Open Up 2020 when you apply and to inform Nesta of any changes in circumstances that may affect your eligibility.
  • Entrants agree that due diligence (including background, financial stability of the legal entity and media checks) will be carried out on all Entrants and individuals of Entrants to Open Up 2020. Any associations or history which may threaten the integrity and reputation of Open Up 2020 (such as criminal activity, an on-going lawsuit, administrator’s investigation or regulatory enforcement or interventions, pending or completed) must be declared for consideration and may be considered grounds for exclusion from Open Up 2020.
  • Subject to the above, Nesta will make the final decision as to eligibility and whether the information provided through due diligence constitute grounds for exclusion from Open Up 2020.

Conflicts of Interest

As part of the application process, you must complete a Conflicts of Interest Declaration to identify actual and potential conflicts of interest.  Potential sources of conflict include relationships (including financial relationships) with organisations or individuals involved in the funding or delivery of Open Up 2020.  Investment from, investment in, or a significant commercial relationship with any of the following will need to be declared:

  • Nesta
  • Open Banking Limited
  • Individuals and organisations involved in the delivery of Open Up 2020
  • Prize Committee members
  • Judging Panel members
  • CMA9 banks: AIB Group UK (trading as First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland), Bank of Ireland (UK), Barclays Bank, HSBC Group (including First Direct and M&S), Lloyds Banking Group (including Bank of Scotland and Halifax), Nationwide Building Society, Northern Bank Limited (trading as Danske Bank), The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (including NatWest and Ulster Bank), Santander UK.
  • Organisations funded by CMA9 banks

Employees of the following groups may not apply to, or participate in, Open Up 2020:

  • Nesta employees.
  • Open Banking Limited employees or contractors
  • Individuals and organisations involved in the delivery of the Challenge

Subject to the above, Nesta will make the final decision as to whether actual or potential conflicts constitute grounds for exclusion from Open Up 2020.

Assessment Criteria

The application form allows you to present to the judges a clear picture of your product, business model, user growth to date, team, and technology. In addition, a section covering financial inclusion and consumer experience will be used by the judges to decide which Finalists will receive additional £50k prize grants.

Product Innovation & Customer Value

Who are your customers? What need is your product fulfilling for them? How did you identify this need? What is innovative about your product? What open banking functionality does your product use? Is there a similar product out there? Why is your product better?

Commercial Model & Market

How large is the segment of the UK consumer market that your product targets? How will your product be financially sustainable? What evidence (user acquisition costs, lifetime value, fixed costs) backs up the assumptions behind your commercial model? What are the relevant regulatory hurdles to developing or scaling your proposition?

User Acquisition

What traction have you achieved at the time of your application? What traction do you expect to achieve in 2020? How will you achieve these user acquisition goals (including sales, marketing, distribution)? How much will your user acquisition costs be?

Team & Technology

Who is on your leadership team? What is their track record and what skills and experience do they bring to your company? How many in your team currently?  How large do you expect it to be  by 2020? What is your tech stack and why will these technologies allow your product to scale? Why is your product safe and secure? How does your product access the open banking API end points?

Consumer Experience

How do you win users’ trust and overcome their doubts about sharing their data? How does your product create a world-class experience for providing and withdrawing consent? What direct evidence of positive impact do you have from consumers interacting with your product? How do you ensure that your users genuinely understand the purpose of sharing their personal data and what they will receive in return? How do you ensure that your users know what data they are sharing, and for how long? How do your users know the parameters under which their data may be shared with third parties (if this is the case)? Can your users manage and revoke their consent? More information can be found in the Open Banking Customer Experience Guidelines

“Across the finance industry, the internet is transforming consumer expectations. Open banking is about more than keeping regulators happy. There’s a very real commercial opportunity to make the financial infrastructure more efficient, more flexible and better able to serve customers.”

Imran Gulamhuseinwala
Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity and Global Head of FinTec

Financial Health and Resilience

At the same time that the 12 to 15 Finalists are chosen, the judges will choose 3 of the Finalists to be immediately granted a further £50k each for demonstrating the clearest alignment with the following statements:

Your Product targets (not necessarily exclusively) UK consumers who are on the margins of financial services, defined by factors such as difficulty in accessing affordable credit when needed, little or no financial buffer, low household income, low net assets, little or no pension provision, no current account, in poor health, non-frequent Internet user, lacking straightforward identification documentation, and lacking in financial knowledge/capability.

Your Product has as a core goal the improvement of your users’ financial health and resilience by, for example:

  • Helping people access cheaper credit, reduce interest payments, and avoid bank fees.
  • Making money go further by identifying savings and/or promoting switching to eliminate “loyalty premiums”.
  • Building a financial buffer, and/or maximising benefits on existing savings.
  • Building trust with customers used to predatory practices, including by offering protections and guarantees.
  • Re-styling traditional credit products such as unsecured loans and overdrafts to work better for more financially excluded consumers.

Your Product takes active steps to identify and protect less sophisticated customers by, for example:

  • Bridging the “digital divide” and accommodating those without ready access to or skills with computers/the Internet.
  • Monitoring for indicators of vulnerability or lack of informed consent, and responding appropriately including by deterring potentially harmful actions.
  • Having a customer authentication journey that is intuitive and informative, that avoids lengthy, confusing or legalistic wording.
  • Granting users real power to control permissions, including allowing them to revoke access to their account easily without facing penalties.


Please check the FAQs before contacting the Challenge team with any questions. We’ll update these as we receive new questions.

Terms and Conditions

Please read the Open Up Challenge 2020 Terms & Conditions before applying. 

Application Form

Applications are now closed.