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£5m FinTech prize for open banking APIs

Innovation foundation, Nesta is launching the Open Up Challenge. The £5m prize fund is set to inspire the creation of next-generation services, apps and tools designed for the UK’s 5 million small businesses. The Challenge is looking for 20 winning international entries that will use Open Banking APIs – newly available from early 2018 – to transform the way small businesses discover, access and use core financial products.

“The Open Up Challenge has the opportunity to revolutionise the UK's SME finance market. The challenge will leverage the expertise of FinTech innovators globally to ensure the UK is the world leader in open banking and small business finance”, says Lawrence Wintermeyer, CEO, Innovate Finance.

The Open Up Challenge capitalises on the UK’s world-leading role in FinTech and Open Banking to support customer-focused innovations that will help UK small businesses thrive in a connected digital economy. These could include tools that help small businesses:

  • Compare loan offers based on their specific needs and financial history;
  • Analyse their transaction history to provide insights that save them time or money;
  • Move their money around automatically to where it can earn the best return or minimise charges;
  • Help them predict and manage their cashflow proactively.

Chris Gorst, Open Up Challenge Prize Lead at Nesta, commented: “Open Banking has the potential to transform small business banking, leading to a step change in innovation and offering busy customers unprecedented transparency, convenience and control. The Open Up Challenge aims to make this a reality, by supporting innovators building next generation services centered around small businesses’ needs.

“The Challenge offers entrants a gateway to innovation through up-front grants and prizes from a £5m fund, business support from key influencers in the industry and exclusive access to our Open Up Data Sandbox with the largest data set of its kind ever released by UK banks.”

Winners will receive:

  • Cash awards – a £50k grant up-front each and a share of a further £3.5m if successful during the Challenge;
  • Exclusive access to the Open Up Data Sandbox containing one of the largest anonymised UK banking transaction datasets ever made available;
  • Fully funded technical and business support provided by leading practitioners, ranging from user experience to specialised legal and regulatory guidance.

Applications will be open between 23 March and 31 May 2017. For more information visit

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