About Open Up 2020

Open Up 2020 is run by Nesta Challenges and backed by  Open Banking Limited as part of the UK’s world-leading open banking agenda.

Open banking has the potential to revolutionise financial services, transforming and opening up the UK banking industry by giving people control over their financial data in order to access innovative products tailored to them. Since it launched in 2018, open banking technology has opened the door for new fintech innovators to create cutting-edge tools for everything from budgeting, debt management, comparing/switching banks, automating savings, and more.

“The UK’s Open Banking project is the most advanced in the world and, if it continues to progress and grow the ecosystem around it, it should become a powerful element of a thriving and globally competitive FinTech sector based in the UK.”

Open Banking, Preparing for lift off
ODI & Fingleton, 2019

The UK is the acknowledged world leader in open banking, with many other countries – including Australia, Canada and the rest of the EU – now implementing similar initiatives.

This wave of innovation holds particular promise for people partially or entirely excluded from access to fair financial services, including:

  • the 1.5m UK consumers who don’t have a bank account
  • the 1m+ consumers every year who need debt advice
  • the 50%+ of consumers who are not confident making financial decisions

More generally, it is estimated that UK consumers stand to gain £12bn from open banking-enabled tools.
(Source: Consumer Priorities For Open Banking, June 2019)

Applications for Open Up 2020 opened in July 2019 and closed in October 2019, with the Prize designed and timed to boost consumer awareness and adoption of open banking-enabled products by:

  • Providing 15 finalist teams with £50k each, growing to as much as £300k each for 3 to 4 winning teams,
  • Promoting their products in a national digital awareness campaign, and
  • Offering expert non-financial support so they can accelerate their solutions.

About Open Up 2018

Open Up 2020 follows directly on from the first Open Up Challenge, a prize fund which ran from 2016 to 2018 backing the next generation of fintech products and apps for UK small businesses. The Challenge awarded equity-free funding to 25 financial technology companies and non-financial support including access to a dataset of millions of customer bank transactions.

“Being a winner of the first Open Up Challenge has been game-changing. It’s put us to the forefront of the banking industry.”

Andrea Reynolds, CEO & Co-Founder, Swoop
Open Up 2018 Winner

Following a rigorous judging process, in December 2018 the six overall winners were announced:

  • Coconut, the current account that takes care of your accounting and tax, designed specifically for freelancers, self-employed people and small business owners.
  • Fluidly provides Intelligent Cashflow to help solve small businesses’ biggest problem – cashflow forecasting and management.
  • Funding Circle is the global small business loans platform matching businesses who want to borrow with investors who want to lend in the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands.
  • Funding Options is Europe’s leading online marketplace for business finance, each year raising £100m+ in vital finance for thousands of UK SMEs from 50+ active lenders.
  • OpenWrks, the business bank account comparison service provides SMEs with a personalised comparison of banking products based on how they run their business.
  • Swoop is a one-stop shop for businesses looking to raise and save money.‍

Since being selected to Open Up 2018, two winners (Fluidly, Funding Options) have raised £5M+ investment rounds, three winners (Swoop, Funding Options and Fluidly) have been awarded £5m each as part of the RBS Alternative Remedies Package, and all six have announced significant user traction milestones.

Find out more about the previous challenge on Challenges.org