Founders: Matt Oldham (pictured), Tony Shawcross & Chris Donnachie, 2021
Business: App-based e-current account, aiming to help solve the problem of financial exclusion.
In 2021 there are people in the UK who are locked out of easily accessing one of the most fundamental services underpinning life – a bank account.
Unizest is an app-based e-current account, aiming to help solve the problem of financial exclusion – something that impacts migrant workers and international students in particular. The fintech startup was relaunched in June 2021 by Neofin Ventures, after securing £300,000 in funding via Worth Capital’s The Start-up Series and angel investors.
The founders – financial services and banking tech experts, Matt Oldham, Tony Shawcross and Chris Donnachie – recognised the challenges non-UK nationals face when trying to open a bank account in the UK, and decided to offer a simple, tech-based solution.
To open a high street bank account, customers are traditionally required to show proof of a UK address – and for overseas workers and students coming from abroad, this proof in the form of a utility or council tax bill can take weeks, and even months, to arrive. Without a bank account, non-UK nationals can find themselves unable to receive wages and pay bills, thus leaving them vulnerable and financially excluded from British life.
Unizest is committed to making the transition to life in the UK better for the people who come here to work and study. Through a partnership with Just Good Work, they are able to provide customers with information on their rights, and guidance on life in the UK – all directly from the Unizest app.
Unizest also recognise that migrant workers are more likely to have temporary, zero hour contracts, and so in order to stretch tight budgets, Unizest has added an offers platform within the app, giving users discounts on everyday items.
The three core business values of their proposition are ‘do the right thing’; ‘be collegiate’; and ‘be a change-maker’. The company is also on the path to obtaining B Corp status; they believe in using business as a force for good.
Unizest are an early stage company but have made a very solid start: they believe in the business model and have great support from major recruitment partners, investors and other key stakeholders. Building up a presence in the UK market will be their focus for 2021/22.
In November, Unizest are announcing a partnership with one of the biggest seasonal labour providers, Concordia. As part of this partnership with a government trusted provider of overseas labour, Unizest will supply e-accounts for the hundreds of workers coming to the UK temporarily to help tackle supply shortages in the run up to Christmas.
Their core proposition resonates in a number of countries outside the UK and to a variety of different customer groups, and their goal is to target areas with large numbers of underbanked and underserved customers, and find innovative partner based routes to market.
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