Irish fintech Swoop secures £2.5m from UK bank’s bailout fund

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UK-headquartered Swoop was one of three finance companies to have received investment from the fund, which also gave the start-up £5m in 2019.

Irish-founded start-up Swoop has received £2.5m from a fund established by banking giant RBS.

In 2019, it was also awarded £5m from the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) scheme. BCR was established in 2018 after RBS accepted a £45bn bailout from the UK government. The bailout programme came with the condition that RBS would set up an independent £775m fund to boost competition in the region’s finance sector.

Swoop is one of three companies to have received funding from BCR this week, with the others being UK fintech players Codat and Cashplus. The three companies will receive a combined £12.5m in grants, with Codat and Cashplus both receiving £5m.

Aidene Walsh, lead director on the BCR Capability and Innovation Fund, said these start-ups were chosen because they could “achieve the largest impact” in a short period of time.

“These organisations are successfully leveraging emerging technologies, such as open banking, to provide new and exciting solutions for SMEs, including cardless payment solutions, the provision of market infrastructure to level the playing field for lending providers, frictionless payment reconciliation, as well as an automated process for achieving funding for growth SMEs.”

Swoop was founded in 2017 by former KPMG chartered accountant and corporate financier Andrea Reynolds along with Ciarán Burke. Reynolds spoke at Silicon Republic’s Future Human event last year about the process of launching Swoop. She said she spotted a gap in the market for a virtual “finance buddy” aimed at SMEs seeking financial advisers and lenders.

Today, Swoop is headquartered in the UK and it employs around 60 people. It recently launched in Canada, adding to its existing locations in Dublin, London and Sydney.

The fintech’s backers include Enterprise Ireland and Velocity. Speaking last year, Reynolds said the pandemic’s digitisation of the finance industry – and most other industries – had benefitted the company.

She added that the ongoing changes would hopefully “democratise finance” and “open up opportunities” to companies seeking funding no matter where they are located.

“The future is that you won’t need to know who the lender is,” Reynolds said.

“All decisions will be made through your data and you’ll get those decisions instantly. So you could have a lender in Barcelona lending to a business in Ballyjamesduff, for example. It won’t matter where you are. It’s what your profile is and does it match to their algorithm.

“This means it’ll open up opportunities. It’ll democratise finance further because businesses, regardless of where they’re located, will not be disadvantaged. Everybody will have this at their fingertips,” she added.

Reynolds said she had seen “a 30pc increase in businesses moving online” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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