Tech City News can exclusively reveal that Oinky, a London-based savings app, has raised approximately $1m (£765,000) in Seed funding from a group of high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs from the finance and tech sectors.
Originally backed by Seedcamp, the startup, which will use the money to expand its team (it recently hired Azimo’s former head of growth Francisco Lema), launch its product and build additional product features, has also received regulatory approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Founded in 2015, Oinky’s mission is simple yet ambitious. Co-founders Ivan Soto-Wright and Conrad Holmboe, who met at Redington, decided to set up the company in an attempt to address a very real problem and one which they both experienced with varying levels of frustration.
“We simply didn’t have the time or patience to think about the ideal amount to save each and every month, and actually save the money. We were too busy working. So, we saved some arbitrary amount to make us feel better and simply spent the rest,” Soto-Wright explained.
Eventually, the co-founders asked themselves how they could leverage technology to automate the process, allowing people to save money based on their lifestyles.
But they soon came up against an obvious challenge: saving is not sexy. In order to overcome this, Soto-Wright and Holmboe said they created a product which they believe is “as helpful as Citymapper and as addictive as Candy Crush”.
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“We want to help people achieve their ambitions and dreams; whether that’s the deposit on your first home, your dream wedding or to cross something off your bucket list – it all starts with saving.
“Our FCA authorisation allows us to introduce users to the leading investment platforms and saving solutions, or help you enjoy greater savings on the experiences you are saving towards,” said Holmboe.
Being regulated, the co-founders said, is a huge milestone for the team, but it hasn’t been easy.
“The nearly 13-month journey to receiving authorisation was definitely rigorous but left us much stronger internally,” Soto-Wright said, adding:
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“One of the most important things in financial services is trust. Going through the FCA process left us with a more robust, clearly defined strategy for our business and an operating framework to ensure the necessary safeguards and controls are in place to keep our customers’ savings safe.”
But, would they have done anything differently? It seems so.
“We might have approached FCA Project Innovate and the Innovation Hub from the outset as they are cost-effective and very keen to help entrepreneurs get started,” Holmboe said, before praising the Fintech Regulatory Sandbox as it allows financial technology firms to test ideas and get to grips with what permissions they will require.
Soto-Wright and Holmboe believe its an exciting time for UK FinTech.
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The incoming PSD2 regulation and Open Banking APIs are buzzwords, they conceded, but they’ve essentially forced banks to come to terms with the fact that the stakes have been raised and that delivering better customer experiences is becoming increasingly important.
“Fortunately, I think we are seeing banks more open to working and collaborating with FinTech startups to make this happen,” Soto-Wright said.
With Brexit looming on the horizon, and many in the industry fearing that departing the European Union will be detrimental for the UK’s technology sector as a whole, Soto-Wright and Holmboe seem apprehensive but not pessimistic.
“I think at this stage it’s anyone guess as to how it will all play out.
“Obviously the potential loss of passporting is concerning for FinTechs that want to seamlessly operate in other EU countries … but, for us at Oinky our primary focus on launch is the UK market,” Holmboe said.
Oinky will launch publicly in the summer, but stay tuned, because both founders have “big things” planned.