Funding Options bids for backing to help small businesses take control of their finances
Funding Options, together with Experian, is to bid for the BCR Capability and Innovation fund, part of the RBS Alternative Remedies Package designed to improve the financial products and services available to small businesses.
Funding Options has partnered with Runpath, a part of Experian, to develop a cash flow management tool that will allow small business to get on top of VAT bills, manage invoices, check their credit report and score, and identify any upcoming dips in cash flow. This comes as new research from Funding Options finds nearly half (44%) of small businesses worry if the business has enough cash to keep going and a third (33%) have previously found themselves in financial difficulty.
Cash flow – and a lack of oversight of it – can have major implications for a small business with 72% saying that a loss of income is the biggest threat to the stability of their business. Half (51%) say they want help to take more control over their business finances.
Together, Funding Options and Experian will be applying for a share of the Capability and Innovation fund to support the 5.7 million small businesses in the UK to take better control of their finances. With 600,000 new companies started between March 2017-March 20182, there are many start-up businesses with a short credit history that would benefit from this type of support. The tool, called ‘Totem’, will be available for free and builds on Funding Option’s winning entry for the Open Up Challenge – a prize backed by the Competition and Markets Authority and run independently by Nesta Challenges. In its award entry, Funding Options showed how Open Banking data could help small businesses to manage their future cash flow challenges.
Totem will use Open Banking and Management Account data to provide small business owners with a much clearer picture of their financial situation, identifying any upcoming pinch-points in their cash flow and allowing them to address dips in income before they become an issue. It aims to resolve the three main issues all businesses face: money management, accessing finance and scaling the business successfully. If successful, the funding will allow Funding Options to bring Totem to market much sooner and to reach even more small business owners.
Ryan Edwards-Pritchard, Managing Director at Funding Options, comments: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and yet the financial products and services that are available to them are far behind those that are available to consumers. For too long, small business owners have been undervalued and underserved. Open Banking is a crucial step in changing this and giving small business owners more control of their finances. We want to offer products and services that help small business owners walk tall, allowing them to manage their day-to-day activities with the confidence that comes from foresight and planning.”
Matt Dunn, B2B GTM Managing Director at Experian, said: “Cash flow is a crucial issue for SMEs – it can hamper their growth, and all too often put them out of business. Working with Funding Options, we’re creating a tool using Open Banking and Management Account data which will put directors in control of their financial information.
“It is a striking example of how new financial services technology can provide new solutions for businesses, allowing them to make better decisions which will benefit both them and their customers. We are delighted to have partnered with Funding Options and look forward to seeing the outcome of our application.”