Thursday, June 20, 2024

Tech Nation announces 35 scaleups selected to join second Libra programme to support underrepresented UK tech founders

Tech Nation, the UK’s leading growth platform for tech scaleups, today announces the 35 tech startups with Black, South Asian, East Asian or Arab founders who have been accepted into Libra 2.0; the second iteration of the Libra programme for ethnically underrepresented tech founders in the UK.

Today, BaaS (Banking as a Service) fintech firm Griffin announced the launch of Verify, a customer onboarding product. Verify will help regulated fintechs onboard customers at scale while meeting regulatory requirements.

“Our mission is to create a technology-driven bank that we believe will blend the power of intuitive software with the security and reliability of an authorised bank,” said Adam Moulson, Griffin’s acting CEO. “Smart onboarding is critical for any financial services offering, and Verify is a complete solution to help firms manage financial crime risks, automate manual tasks, and create a seamless end-to-end experience for users.”

The technology behind Verify has always been a core pillar of Griffin’s vision to help fintechs launch financial products quickly without compromising on compliance. The company realised there was a gap in the market for a product that addresses the unique challenges of regulated fintechs. Verify provides the right level of flexibility, ease of use, and domain expertise to help fintechs onboard customers at speed, while keeping the appropriate guardrails in place.

Verify helps firms manage customer onboarding risks by automating checks like: Verify and verification (including biometrics), PEPs, sanctions and adverse media screening, fraud and more. The platform also provides a seamless experience across the API and UI, making it easy for tech and compliance teams to collaborate using one platform.

The key features at launch include:

  • Pre-integration with a wide network of industry-leading regtech data sources and providers (including Companies House, Equifax, Dow Jones, Seon, Veridas, and more)

  • Customisable check workflows and decision logic for automatic accept and decline results

  • Clear audit trails with visibility over every check result and decision justification

  • A single API integration point with clear documentation for easy implementation

  • Support from Griffin’s team of compliance experts

Griffin is already working with early adopter customers, including Comma, the UK’s first native open banking bulk payments system. The company uses Verify to customise their onboarding workflow, run KYB checks and automate approvals, providing a better user experience and helping its compliance team manage financial crime risks as customer adoption grows.

“Our goal has always been to solve problems for consumers using technology that makes running their lives and businesses easier. We are thrilled to partner with Griffin to replace manual processes with simple, innovative technology that delivers value to customers. We’re growing fast, and Verify is poised to help us safely and efficiently take on new customers at scale.” Ger Kelly, Head of Banking said.

This product launch comes on the heels of two major company milestones: Griffin recently closed a $15.5 million funding round led by Notion Capital, and submitted its banking licence application to the PRA and FCA. The company aims to become the go-to banking and BaaS partner for UK fintechs.

“Fintechs today need banking and technology partners that understand their needs and can help them innovate at speed. The launch of Verify, coupled with the company’s other achievements this year, demonstrate that Griffin is well on its way to becoming the bank you can build on,” said Stephen Chandler, managing partner at Notion Capital and Griffin board member.

Companies accepted into the newest Libra programme are working to transform multiple sectors; from finance, healthcare and clean technology to education and HR. This includes innovative companies who are creating technology to help growing diverse communities save money for the future (Bloom Money), working to end period pain for women (Hormonious Flo), and turning under-used nutritious plants from the forest in Central America into novel, carbon-negative superfoods (Tierra Foods).

This year, 40% of the new cohort companies are based outside of London – including companies from Scotland (such as Cyberodane), the North West (such as Dicey Tech), the East of England (such as Swapped) and the West Midlands (such as &facts). On top of this regional diversity, 63% of the companies have female founders, and collectively the companies operate in over 17 different countries (including the UK).

The aim of this year’s Libra programme

The six-month government-backed Libra programme was created to tackle the racial diversity challenges that exist in UK tech. Last year, Extend Ventures reported that between 2009 and 2019, three quarters of VC investment went to all-white founding teams, while under a quarter (23%) went to multi-racial founding teams, and just 0.24% went to all-Black founding teams.

By supporting ethnically underrepresented tech leaders based in the UK (who are growing and scaling despite VC funding challenges), Libra aims to strengthen the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business – for everyone.

While the inaugural Libra programme focussed on improving the Black founder experience, Libra 2.0 will focus on companies with at least one ethnic minority founder with lived experience of little or no access to capital, networking and commercial opportunities, to help them access equal opportunities and accelerate their scaling journey.

Libra 2.0 follows on from the success of the Libra 1.0 programme, which saw 2 Black-founded startup companies (edtech company Framework and HRtech company Flair) raise Seed funding within their first few months of joining the programme, and 6 companies (Boxx, Compare Ethics, Eccobell, Framework, Ruka and Owni) awarded the Black Fund Grant by Google for Startups.

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