Five UK startups pioneer AI across the Consumer Fintech Spectrum


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AI is no longer a differentiator amongst startups, it has become a default feature that most firms will need to have as one of their core capabilities. UK has never been short of AI success stories, with one of the first being Deepmind, that was acquired by Google in 2014. The Fintech wave was just getting started then, and there have been some good tales in the UK-AI-Consumer Fintech space, across various sub-clusters.

Personal Finance Management: Cleo

Cleo, an AI assistant that helps customers manage personal finance was founded in 2015, and after two years of work was launched commercially this year. The AI assistant taps into consumers’ bank accounts and helps them save money. Since launch, Cleo have close to £400 Million worth of assets under management.

They have integration with Facebook messenger to manage payments, and have an interface that has managed to retain 70% of their users even after 3 months of signing up – thats pretty impressive. VCs have been pouring their money into PFMs in anticipation of PSD2, and Cleo has recently closed a £2 Million round in which Skype’s Niklas Zennstrom participated.

RegTech: Onfido 

London based Onfido, was recently announced by the World Economic Forum as one of the “Technology Pioneers”. They help verify people’s identities digitally. Founded by three entrepreneurs from Oxford University, Onfido uses AI to perform background checks and spot frauds. They validate a user’s identity by comparing biometrics with identity documents. Identities can then be cross-referenced against international credit and watchlist databases

They operate across the globe in about 195 countries with a team of 150 employees, and support close to 1500 businesses. They have recently managed $30 Million in funding from Salesforce ventures and IdInvest Partners.

InsurTech: Tractable

AI within Insurance has seen some really good use cases in the last couple of years. Tractable is a deep learning startup specializing in computer vision to solve specific high impact problems. Their imagery algorithm can be used to quickly perform visual inspection of an accident and provide data digitally to support insurance claims.

In the past where even minor accidents took a few days if not weeks to settle, AI programmes can quickly scan the damage and digitally assess the cost to fix them. The deep learning capability that they have built in collaboration with Cambridge Machine Learning Group, the Visual Geometry Group (Oxford University) and the Neuroscience unit at UCL, can now assess damage to a vehicle more accurately than a human expert. Tractable closed their Series A round of $8 Million last month.

Mortgages: Habito

I wrote about Habito in detail in one of my previous posts. They are an AI capable online Mortgage broker based out of London. Their AI algorithm helps identify the best deal in the market, and also get real time approvals for mortgages. Customers have access to over 60 mortgage lenders through their platform.

Earlier this year, they closed a £5.5 Million funding round which they would be using to build an end to end AI enabled real time mortgage experience.

Credit Scoring: Aire

Aire offers AI enabled alternative credit scoring capability to lenders, where they get insights into borrowers with thin credit files. Aire has an interactive virtual questionnaire that provides insights on top of traditional credit data. Through this new capability, lenders on average have managed to increase credit approvals by upto 14% without increasing risk exposure.

Aire has recently signed partnerships with Zopa and Toyota Financial Services, and closed a funding round of $5 Million last month.

AI for decades has been a fairy tale as it lacked the data volumes and data quality to provide the right insights. However, with Social Media, Open data, and PSD2 providing a firm footing this time, the API era should see some Consumer Fintech AI success stories over the next few years.

Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Fintech thought leader and an investor. 

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