Press Releases

Open Up Challenge Finalists Revealed – the 15 Fintechs Revolutionising Money Management

13 November 0219
  • The Open Up 2020 Challenge, run by Nesta Challenges in partnership with Open Banking Limited, today announces the 15 finalists
  • The £1.5m challenge prize fund encourages fintech innovators to revolutionise money management using new open banking technology – whether that is helping people save, budget better, switch to the best deals or avoid being ripped off
  • Examples of solutions supported include a digital debt adviser, a personal finance chatbot, a solution that prevents people from going into their overdrafts, a fraud prevention tool, and even a tool to make it easier to get a mortgage
  • Three to four finalists will go on to be announced as overall challenge winners in July 2020 when they will receive a further £150,000-200,000 to grow their solutions

EMBARGOED UNTIL 0001, WEDNESDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2019 – Fifteen fintechs have today secured funding to develop innovative solutions that use open banking to transform how people across the UK manage their finances. From saving and budgeting, and debt support to mortgage affordability, the Open Up 2020 Challenge aims to address some of the longstanding financial issues faced by the UK population.

Run by Nesta Challenges, in partnership with Open Banking Limited (OBL), the prize has awarded each of the fifteen solutions £50,000 of the £1.5m prize pot. Three of them will also receive an additional £50,000 based on their solution’s emphasis on financial inclusion, such as addressing financial wellbeing for the elderly and vulnerable.

All the solutions use open banking data to help their users better manage their financial lives. This includes gig economy workers, who are trying to manage the peaks and troughs in their finances, millennials and Gen Z’s who are trying to get on the property ladder or save money, and others who may wish to see their charitable donations in one place.

Research conducted to mark the launch of the Open Up 2020 Challenge found millions of people across the country are currently struggling to stay on top of their finances. One in three (29%) regularly run out of money each month – equating to around 15.2 million people – and half (48%) of people would like new tools and apps to help them manage their money.

Out of the 107 entries received, the judging panel selected the 15 most promising concepts to move on to the final round. Many of these are already live in market, collectively reaching close to 6 million people, but through the Challenge, these 15 companies hope to support 13.5 million people across the UK in all areas of personal finance. Five of the solutions focus on helping people better manage their money generally, while two help people navigate common housing issues and another two are centred around addressing the nation’s savings crisis.

Over the next eight months, the finalists will work with Nesta Challenges and OBL to develop their solutions, also receiving non-financial support including marketing, business mentoring and service design. Between three and four finalists will go on to be named winners in July 2020, receiving a further £150,000 -200,000 each to invest in their idea.

Chris Gorst, Director of Challenges, at Nesta Challenges, said: “Whether it is gig economy workers, 18-35 year olds, or more vulnerable groups, millions of people across the UK are struggling to keep on top of their finances. The financial services sector has been slow to respond to society’s evolving needs, whether it’s better serving the UK’s renters, fraud prevention for the vulnerable, or helping those with an unpredictable income manage their finances and get a mortgage.

“The Open Up 2020 finalists are addressing these issues – and more – using open banking to make it easy for people to overcome some of the real-life issues they are dealing with every day. Among other areas, the solutions have the potential to change the UK’s rental market, help people avoid expensive or unnecessary debt, and allow young people to save and proactively find people the best deals. We see this as the start of a big consumer-friendly shift in financial services.”

Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity, commented: “We were extremely impressed by the high calibre of the entrants to Open Up 2020. It was tough to select the finalists, but we are confident that the fifteen going on to the next round have strong and innovative products and solutions that will help revolutionise how we all manage our money and finances. Open banking has huge potential to improve our relationship with money, and Open Up 2020 is a vital component in ensuring that the UK continues to be developing innovative open banking-enabled products.”

The 15 finalists are:

  1. Canopy – RentPassportTM, a portable digital rental identity which helps renters improve their credit score, as well as access a range of financial wellness products such as deposit free insurance which offers the same protections as with a cash deposit, except for eight weeks instead of five weeks.
  2. Cleo – an AI assistant with a sense of humour which helps Gen Z/ Millennials budget, save and track their spending.
  3. Creditspring – affordable credit subscription service offering small interest free loans for short term credit to help those with limited savings or persistent debt cope with unexpected expenses.
  4. Currensea – the first travel debit card that connects to customers’ existing high street banks accounts, offering competitive exchange rates and saving up to 80% on bank charges when spending abroad.
  5. Kalgera – a personal finance platform for older or vulnerable people. Kalgera uses neuroscience and AI to detect and predict financial vulnerability to help prevent fraud.
  6. Mojo Mortgages – MortgageScore™ will combine credit and open banking data to determine if a customer is mortgage ready. Once a customer’s score is calculated, the MortgageScore™ coaching feature will provide personalised advice on how they could improve their score.
  7. Moneybox – this innovative app helps customers save and invest for their future. You can set money aside through round ups or regular deposits and choose from a range of products including ISAs, savings accounts and pensions.
  8. Moneyhub – a financial management platform that empowers people to do more with their money by offering actionable insights to consumers to improve financial wellness. Moneyhub uses machine learning to categorise financial data by aggregating accounts.
  9. Plum – an AI assistant that boosts your bank balance through automated savings, easy bill switching and investments.
  10. Portify – a holistic credit builder for modern workers with unconventional earnings patterns, Portify’s solution analyses these earnings and spending behaviours to prevent overdraft and interest payments and offer a fee-free credit line.
  11. Sustainably – a platform to give to good causes, making it easy for businesses and consumers to do good as part of everyday life by using open banking data to round up retail transactions and donate to charities.
  12. Toucan – helps people who need extra help managing their money because of impairments like dementia or mental illness. The app allows them to securely share spending alerts or financial information with someone they trust, typically a carer.
  13. Tully – a digital debt adviser for those struggling financially – providing online budgeting, debt advice, flexible repayments and money coaching to alleviate financial stress.
  14. Updraft – a solution which automates day to day decisions involved in managing money, designed to help millennial users clear their overdraft, pay off their credit cards, save more, and reach their life goals faster.
  15. Wagestream – allows employees to stream a proportion of their income as it’s earned, save directly from their salary, track wages and get impartial, financial education in real-time.

Each finalist has been awarded £50,000 to develop their innovation over the next eight months – with Kalgera, Toucan and Wagestream receiving £100,000 because of their focus on financial inclusion.

For more information, visit:

– – – ENDS – – –

Notes to editors:

For all media enquiries contact:

Robyn Margetts, OR
Emma Harvey,

Finalist quotes


Tahir Farooqui, CEO of Canopy, said: “We are thrilled about the opportunity to work with Nesta Challenges to promote greater financial resilience for millions of renters. Over 11 million people in the U.K have less than £100 in savings. We have pledged to return £1,200 back to renters’ pockets, by eliminating rental deposits by 2025. We also want to boost renters’ financial wellness, so they can get on to the property ladder.”


Roxanne Nejad, Head of Brand, Cleo, said: “We are delighted to be finalists in the Open Up 2020 Challenge. Cleo is here to make money management less elitist, more accessible and informative – transforming the ‘money thing’ into something radically different. Financial advice and education are missing from retail banking, and from Government. Our aim is to give people the confidence to discuss their finances the same way they share gym habits or how they have their coffee, and we know when we have won when it’s finally normal to talk about money.”


Neil Kadagathur, co-founder and CEO, Creditspring, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be finalists for Nesta Challenges’ Open Up 2020 Challenge. OpenBanking has so much potential, particularly around helping people get access to the financial services they deserve and reducing historical discrimination such as making credit decisions based on someone’s postcode or past history. OpenBanking really is the future and Nesta Challenges’ efforts are helping bring it closer to the present.”


James Lynn, Currensea Co-founder, says: “We are absolutely delighted to have won a place as a finalist in Nesta Challenges’ Open Up 2020 Challenge. It’s an early recognition of the disruptive nature of our product that will completely change the way people spend abroad. This opportunity will help us provide an even more compelling product for UK adults who need a simple and cost-efficient solution for spending abroad.

“Our research showed that most UK adults don’t want the hassle of opening a new bank account or having a prepaid card to achieve better exchange rates. Currensea is leveraging Open Banking to connect directly to customers’ bank accounts saving them up to 80% on their bank’s charges.”


Dr Dexter J.A. Penn, Founder and CEO, Kalgera, said: “My team and I are over the moon at this momentous opportunity to change the lives of millions of people. Being recognised in such a tangible way makes such a huge difference and we hope to gain as much from the experience and support to truly accelerate Kalgera’s growth.”

Mojo Mortgages

Richard Hayes, CEO and Co-Founder of Mojo Mortgages, said: “We’re thrilled to have been selected as a finalist for the Open Up 2020 Challenge. It’s essential that fintech pioneers are encouraged and supported to innovate, and this is exactly what Open Up does. Being a finalist is amazing recognition for our team and we can’t wait for the next stage.”


Charlie Mortimer, Founder, Moneybox, said: “We are thrilled to have made it through to the final of the Open Up 2020 Challenge. Open Banking presents a great opportunity for us to help existing Moneybox customers save and invest for their future more easily and to enable many new customers to get started.”


Samantha Seaton, CEO of Moneyhub comments: “The true power of Open Banking is only just starting to be unlocked – but momentum is clearly building and Moneyhub is thrilled to be one of the pioneers, working closely with the Open Banking Implementation Entity and ISO TC68 to transform the European fintech landscape.

“Innovation sits at the heart of the Open Banking revolution and being selected as one of the ‘Open Up 2020 Challenge’ finalists is recognition of the hard work, dedication, and excellence of the Moneyhub team. An Open Banking platform providing holistic personal financial management across all assets, investments, and bank accounts, Moneyhub will continue to push boundaries in the quest to turn the limitless potential of Open Banking into a reality.”


Victor Trokoudes, CEO and co-founder, Plum: “It’s an amazing achievement for us to be selected for the Nest Challenges Open Up 2020 Challenge. Money is a massive cause of worry for many people in the UK, and this worry is often caused by how difficult it is to save and grow money efficiently. With Plum, we’re harnessing technology and behavioural insights to help those people and boost their bank balance, not just now, but into the future. Together with the support of the Open Up fund we’re looking forward to developing this further in 2020.”


Sho Shugari, Co-founder and CEO Portify, said: “We are delighted that Portify has selected as a finalist for the Open up 2020 Challenge. We are looking forward to working with Nesta Challenges to grow and significantly extend our impact.”


Loral Quinn, CEO and co-founder, Sustainably, said: “We’re so excited for this opportunity to be part of Open Up 2020, to get access to the world-class mentors and companies who can help us drive adoption and scale our impact globally.”


Toucan Co-founder and CEO, Bailey Kursar, said: “In just six months we’ve built an app that’s already helping people share the load managing money with someone that they trust. Thanks to Open Up 2020 we’re now able to double down on building a product that can scale.

“There are over six million people in the UK who want extra support when it comes to managing their money. These are people at risk because they’re vulnerable. People with dementia, mental health problems and learning difficulties.

“We’re grateful to be receiving extra funding from Open Up because of our commitment to financial inclusion. We’ll be using some of this money to fund ground-breaking new research following our successful pilot this year, when we worked with The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, Nationwide’s Open Banking for Good and Northumbria University’s School of Design.”


Stuart Bungay, CEO of Tully, said: “We are delighted to be one of the Nesta Challenges Open Up 2020 finalists and incredibly proud to be selected as a provider unlocking the power of Open Banking for an underserved segment of the market. Nesta Challenges will help us accelerate our growth – getting Tully into the hands of the 20 million people in the UK who are struggling financially and changing the way money works for people with money worries.”


Aseem Munshi, founder and CEO of Updraft, said: “We are really excited to be one of the finalists of the Open Up 2020 Challenge. We believe that the future of personal finance is autonomous finance and open banking is key to our product vision built around self-driving money. The support provided through this competition in raising awareness of open banking will be really helpful to our plans to scale up the business in 2020.”


Peter Briffett, CEO, Wagestream said: “We’re thrilled to be included in the finalists of Nesta Challenges’ Open Up 2020 Challenge. The funding will help us to continue to grow and develop solutions that give UK working people the financial security and stability they deserve. Such an approach is revolutionary in making a real impact to consumers lives.”

Further quotes from and details about all 15 finalists are available on request.

Methodology: Opinium, on behalf of Nesta Challenges, interviewed 2,004 UK adults between 9 and 15 July 2019. Data has been weighted to nationally representative standards.

15.2 million figure calculated based on 29% of ONS mid-2018 population estimate of 52,383,965 people aged 18 and over in the UK.

About Nesta Challenges

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better.

Within Nesta, Nesta Challenges uses challenge prizes to stimulate innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face. Challenge prizes are a simple but powerful idea. A problem or opportunity is identified, the challenge is publicised and rewards are offered to those who can deliver the best solutions.

Nesta Challenges’ Better Markets team works with regulators, policymakers and innovative enterprises to make markets more competitive and open. We advise regulators and policymakers how regulatory reforms and targeted public investment programmes can work together to achieve greater impact.

About Open Banking Limited

  1. Open Banking Ltd was set up by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) in September 2016 to fulfil one of the remedies mandated by the CMA following an investigation into UK retail banking.
  2. The CMA’s investigation into the retail banking market (whose findings were published in August 2016) concluded that older and larger banks do not compete hard enough for customers’ business and that Open Banking should deliver a new, secure option for customers to be able to compare the deal they are getting from their bank.
  3. Open Banking was created to enable innovation, transparency and competition to UK financial services. It is tasked with delivering the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), data structures and security architectures that will make it easy and safe for customers to share their financial records by January 2018.
  4. The data provided by Open Banking will enable developers to harness technology that allows individuals and businesses to share their financial records held by their banks with third parties.
  5. Open Banking is a private body; its governance, composition and budget was determined by the CMA. It is funded by the UK’s nine largest current account providers and overseen by the CMA, the Financial Conduct Authority and Her Majesty’s Treasury.
  6. The 9 mandated institutions (referred to as the CMA9) are: Barclays plc, Lloyds Banking Group plc, Santander, Danske, HSBC, RBS, Bank of Ireland, Nationwide and AIBG.

About the Open Up 2020 Challenge

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

Open Up 2020 is designed and timed to boost consumer awareness and adoption of open banking-enabled products by:

  • providing 15 fintechs with up to £300k each,
  • promoting their products in a national digital awareness campaign, and
  • offering expert non-financial support so they can accelerate their solutions.