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UK: Unizest revived with £300,000 backing

Banking solution for international students in the UK, Unizest has announced a relaunch with a £300,000 backing.

With Unizest, consumers can instantly apply for, and open, a UK-based e-account from anywhere in the world. Photo: Unizest

The funding round was led by Worth Capital as part of its The Start-Up Series competition

Securing the £300,000 funding with fintech experts Neofin Ventures, the renewed Unizest brand will re-enter the market with support from established industry leaders Mastercard and Railsbank.

“We aim to create the best start for people arriving in the UK for work or study,” said Matt Oldham, co-founder at Neofin Ventures. He is also a mentor at Barclays Fintech Accelerator Techstars, which Unizest joined in 2018.

The company’s e-account solution has been broadened, beyond focusing solely on international students, to also include new workers to the UK.

“Healthcare, construction, and agricultural workers coming from overseas fill a crucial gap in the UK’s economy and industry recovery, however, they face numerous challenges when trying to do something as simple as opening a bank account,” Oldham continued.

“The issue creates friction and a gap between being able to work and being able to start. This can cause frustration for employers and stress for workers. At worst, it can lead to vulnerability as overseas workers are the most at risk of exploitation at work.”

Consumers can apply and set up their e-account before they leave their home country before receiving their Debit Mastercard on arrival in the UK.

The funding round was led by Worth Capital as part of its Start-Up Series competition, from which Neofin Ventures secured £200,000. Other investment came from angel investors.

“Unizest has a clear target audience, both the workers and students planning to come to the UK and the recruitment agencies and others that help them to get here,” said Worth Capital founding partner Matthew Cushen.

“The team has a route to that target audience that should end up with a very low cost of acquisition”

“Then the difficulty of setting up accounts prior to being in the UK is a knotty problem for them all. The team has a route to that target audience that should end up with a very low cost of acquisition.

“And they have a product and brand proposition forensically tailored to their type of user, along with a team that has delivered in the past,” he added, referring to Neofin Ventures’ Matt Oldham, Tony Shawcross and Chris Donnachie, each of whom have at least 25 years experience in the financial services.

We believe in giving everyone, everywhere access to the digital economy with the means to pay, and be paid,” added head of Fintech at Mastercard UK & Ireland, Edoardo Volta.

“It is great to be working with Unizest as they offer this innovative solution for underserved new to the UK workers.”

Under Neofin Ventures, Unizest is set to relaunch in June.

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