Akoni selected for the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab

 The Akoni team is excited to announce we are one of five Retail Banking fintech startups selected for the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab in London, amongst the cohort of twenty across categories including CIB, Insuretech and Tech4Tech.    The Lab is a three month accelerator and mentorship programme uniting fintech startups with global financial services institutions, including HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Citibank, Santander, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, amongst others.      The programme focuses on meeting the top execs and decision-makers at partner banks as well as legal, pitching and proof of concept mentoring.

Further information on the programme and the other startups selected can be found at https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/fintech-innovation-lab-london-kicks-off-largest-programme-in-its-five-year-history.htm

The Akoni team is ensconced in our new offices, and surrounded by an awesome environment and passionate teams, with the bonus of incredible London views.    We are looking forward to the acceleration of the experience!    Our team is working on several product releases and collaborating with various new partners over the next few months, aiming to deliver value for the UK’s 5.3 million businesses!   We are already thoroughly enjoying the shared experiences with other startups, the awesome Accenture lab team and our mentors and banks.

About Akoni:

Akoni is an innovative fintech startup which aims to improve financial outcomes for businesses while at the same time providing banks with benefits including customer loyalty and increased margin through Basel III LCR reductions.

The Akoni platform is a digital cash treasury manager and uses technology and data science to provide customers a cash portfolio manager, business marketplace which is updated daily, and personalised cash report and dashboard, as well as innovative cashflow projection tools including algorithm-based allocations, automated monitoring and utilising statistical techniques and neural networks for projection outcomes.

Akoni’s chairman and lead investor, Duncan Goldie-Morrison, is a seasoned banking CEO and Chairman. Mr. Goldie-Morrison  was previously CEO of The Americas Credit Agricole CIB, Head of Global Markets and Asia, Bank of America, Chairman of Newedge Group SA and Newedge UK, President Ritchie Capital Management and Director Kleinwort Benson Bank. The business is further supported by the Deputy Chairman, Yann Gindre, previously CEO of Natixis UK and the Americas and financial services veteran.

Founder and CEO, Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, explains: “Scientific tools are changing the way we work in financial services, right down to conventional cash management activities that are traditionally based in Excel.  Akoni plans to be a key leader and driver in delivering these changes. At last, corporates and SME businesses have access to similar cash management facilities to institutions with in-house treasurers and Treasury management systems. We are delighted to be part of the Accenture fintech lab, working with people and organisations of such calibre and looking forward to the programme innovation drive for our business.” 

Banking sector undergoes disruption

The UK banking sector is already facing a range of issues, including ‘banking as a service’, ongoing cost reduction pressures, opportunities and challenges as a result of CMA requirements, open APIs and PSD2, and the Challenger Banks bringing a new approach to services and customer solutions. Businesses are part of this change, with the latest Accenture 2020 SME Banking report showing that 70% of businesses are prepared to pay non-banking customers for financial services.

To date, fintech innovation has been focused primarily on consumer banking for B2C and lending for B2B. Now, for the first time, Akoni brings technology benefits to UK SMEs and businesses for cash treasury management, with further business products planned in future roadmap.

For more information, please contact Felicia@akonihub.com

What a Week!

What a (another) crazy week! The British are suffering from Post Traumatic Brexit Syndrome and now there is a new PM at Downing Street. And Boris is the Foreign Secretary!

Leadership and Stabilising the economy

In all the turmoil, it is vital to stabilize the economy – business needs assurance that there is a strong, positive and capable leader at the helm. Most urgent is the need to smooth the waters for the SME’s – the future growth of the country – who are particularly vulnerable to massive currency variations.

Commenting on the announcement that Theresa May will be the new Prime Minister as of Wednesday 13 July, Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:“With Theresa May now confirmed as the next UK Prime Minster, the Government must act decisively to secure our long-term economic stability after the decision to leave the EU. Immediate action is needed to improve small business confidence and allow them to reliably plan ahead for the future.

“The new Prime Minister will decide the UK’s approach to EU negotiations, and she must ensure that smaller firms’ interests are taken into account – simple access to the single market, the ability to hire the right people, continued EU funding for key schemes and clarity on the future regulatory framework.

He urged the Government to get it’s business focus back, and now we have an official Leader, to deal with the urgent issues that have taken a back seat as a result of the political situation. These include airport expansion, HS2, energy security and the Northern Powerhouse, delivering on business rates and changing plans for quarterly tax returns.

Interest Rates

And speaking of interest rates – the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC) voted 8-1 to keep interest rates unchanged at their record low of 0.5%. The reason given is that rate setters want to wait and see how the economy performs over the “coming weeks as the fog of the recent Brexit vote turmoil began to clear,” says Philip Inman in The Guardian.

Another reason for caution is fears over inflation: by increasing the money supply, Banks would increase prices or inflation.  The GBP has fallen significantly against other currencies, which will make imports costlier, and the cost of living higher.   There are many uncertain factors which may impact the average business.

How does this impact my Business Savings?

And what about Savings Accounts, particularly for businesses?

Savings accounts have not exactly enjoyed fabulous interest rates for ages. Ben Chu of The Independent, said that a rate cute “may be passed on to savers, meaning further pain. But with interest rates already so low banks may hesitate to pass the cut to savers and choose to absorb the hit themselves.”

Looking forward to the future

Our view at StrongJones is that the country needs is good strong leadership, optimism and confidence. As Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage Group PLC, said in a recent article, “Whilst big businesses talk about shifting operations, and the media speculates about the FTSE 100 companies, my barber in Richmond, and your baker in Shropshire carry on, driving growth and creating jobs & prosperity for UK.  Let’s remember that going back as far as the silk traders, commerce has always triumphed so it is our responsibility to promote ‘business as usual’.”

We believe that in Britain we are a nation built on solid foundations, and we need to doggedly continue to trade, support small business and function as we did before.

With our new StrongJones start-up , we foresee that SME’s hard-earned cash will be earning the maximum interest possible – even in times of extreme political and monetary policy change.   We are here to help SMEs maximise returns in their business, using the typical under-utilised cash savings.     We aim to provide a range of cash management tools, an area traditionally neglected by larger banks, adding significant value – saving time, providing peace of mind – and earning money.   This frees up resources to be reinvested in the business operations and team.

Speak to us about joining our Beta user group – obtain your personal feedback, setting  up a unique profile, and ensuring we provide value for the daily pragmatic life of your business.

Email me for Beta Group sign-up Felicia@strongjones.co.uk and Follow us @strongjonesuk

Theresa May, new British PM, takes over at Number 10 this week. Photo: PA, from BBC.co.uk

Companies using personal funds to meet business goals

Cash flow is identified as the biggest worry for SMEs.    
Only one fifth of small businesses have used financial support, including business loans, invoice finance, peer-to-peer lending and finance leasing, in the last 12 months, research finds.

Instead businesses turn to their own bank accounts (30 per cent), overdraft facilities (16 per cent) and their own families (7 per cent) to access the cash needed, according to a study by Hitachi Capital.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to expand and grow their teams, with six in ten SMEs (60 per cent) expecting to stay at their current size or scale down and only 6 per cent expecting to experience significant growth, the study of some 1,000 small business owners reveals.

Cash flow is identified as the biggest worry for SMEs, with almost one third (30 per cent) of small business owners saying they are being kept awake at night by this issue. Worries are caused by a range of factors including late payments from customers and unexpected costs and charges.

Insight from Hitachi Capital shows that April, July and October are the times when small business owners are most in need of help and when cash reserves are low, making it even more important to plan ahead.

April, the beginning of a new tax year, forces SMEs to get up to speed with a host of new legislation, including the new National Living Wage and several new immigration laws.

In July, holiday season and a reduced workforce takes its toll on smaller companies, while in October businesses are under pressure to meet the retail demand of Black Friday and the festive period.

Financial solutions, such as invoice finance and business loans, can help small businesses to deliver efficient and successful operations across the year.

Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance says, ‘The UK’s SMEs account for 99 per cent of our entire economy, so it’s critical that we enable them to efficiently manage their business and support them in their growth ambitions.

‘Peaks and troughs across the year are inevitable for any small business and accessing financial solutions can help manage these periods as well as helping to overcome any unexpected hurdles.’

http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk/news/management/2515311/companies-using-personal-funds-to-meet-business-goals.thtml

 

 

 

Banking’s Future as an Information Business

Why Barclays Sees Banking’s Future as an Information Business

Through Gov.UK Verify, Barclays’ customers can use their bank credentials to authenticate themselves to access tax returns and other government services. Simon said the bank is working on an “attributes exchange” that would enable a person to show, using a mobile banking app, that Barclays has verified certain information about them. For example, the app could vouch that a customer is old enough to drink in a pub, so they doesn’t have to show a driver’s license with an exact birthdate, or confirm their last three addresses to a landlord, saving both parties time spent looking up old lease documents or checking references. Offering such a service will make customers more likely to stay with the bank and to use more of its products, Barclays is betting.

Digital services like identity management will be a key for banks to offer as the nature of financial services changes, said Dan Latimore, senior vice president of the banking practice at the research firm Celent. In a world where nonbank firms can offer banking services, traditional financial institutions need to focus on data to offer services or insights that a fintech startup can’t, he said.

“We have been advocating that banks take a look at the treasure trove of data they possess,” he said. “As they come under further attack from fintechs, they have to think about what differentiates them. I think what Barclays is doing is a great example of mobilizing the resources banks have and offering differentiating products and services.”

Though consumers are generally wary of sharing personal information or having their personal data accessed, Latimore noted that in general “they have shown they are willing to give to get. You just have to demonstrate what you are giving them is worthwhile.”

Besides, banks are required to know increasingly more about their customers under stiffening anti-money-laundering regulations. Acting as identity providers, they might spare their customers from having to expose all that personal information to various other parties with weaker data security practices.

In general, the U.K. has put a focus on using financial innovation for consumers’ benefit. In 2014, the government put out a call for evidence on how best to deliver an open standard for application programming interfaces and to ask whether more open data in banking could benefit consumers. The government has since asked the banking and fintech industries to work together on the creation of a framework to introduce an open API and open banking standard in the U.K.

Another service from the new Barclays unit mines individual customers’ spending data to give them insights into their financial habits. Down the line, Simon said, Barclays is looking to offer services pegged to these insights to help customers manage their financial lives. For example, if a customer is spending more on heating and electricity than the average resident in their area, a message in their mobile or online banking may appear asking if they want help switching utility providers. (Customers would have to opt in for these services, Simon said.)

The information group offers services even to noncustomers. For example, the Barclays website offers a Local Insights feature where anyone can type in their U.K. postcode to access an array of local economic data. This can be helpful to small businesses, Simon said, who can examine data such as how much spending on entertainment or eating out residents of their area do.

Giving away this information helps grease the wheels of commerce, which ultimately is good for the banking industry, Simon said. “The more we can use the power of big data to help the economy grow, the better it is for us.” But he acknowledged that the giveaway also serves as soft marketing for the bank to businesses that may need financial services in the future.

“What is the bank of the future?” Simon said. “It’s becoming a data-driven organization that is there to help customers manage their lives.”

#SMEs #BigData #SmallBusiness

http://www.americanbanker.com/news/bank-technology/why-barclays-sees-bankings-future-as-an-information-business-1080128-1.html