Fintech Soar to disrupt ethical banking with £450,000 grant

From left: Soar's Andrew Duncan, MSP Kate Forbes, who visited the fintech's office this week, and Scottish Enterprise's Michael Cannon. Picture: Scottish Enterprise
From left: Soar's Andrew Duncan, MSP Kate Forbes, who visited the fintech's office this week, and Scottish Enterprise's Michael Cannon. Picture: Scottish Enterprise
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A Glasgow-based fintech is aiming to disrupt the ethical banking sector with new “first of its kind” software after securing six-figure funding to develop its offering.

Soar, which is developing a cloud-based banking platform to be used by credit unions and other not-for-profit banking organisations, has been awarded a £450,000 research and development (R&D) grant from Scottish Enterprise.

The fintech claims that its software will allow ethical banking institutions to analyse and manage data more effectively and securely, use artificial intelligence, make better and quicker loan decisions, and provide “state-of-the-art” online and mobile banking products to their members.

Soar has created 15 additional jobs on the back of the funding boost, bringing its total headcount to 22, and it will also use the investment to target expansion into international markets including Ireland, Germany, the US, Canada and Australia.

The business, which spun out of the November Twenty One Group, has already developed a mobile banking app with the aim of helping credit unions to “stand out” in the financial services market and attract younger members.

Clients include Pioneer Mutual Credit Union in Barrhead – and Glasgow Credit Union, the UK’s largest with close to 50,000 members, with which the fintech struck a deal in December to provide its mobile app and internet banking platform.

Andrew Duncan, executive chairman of Soar, said the firm’s technology can help ethical organisations to keep pace with digital changes in the wider financial sector.

He said: “The financial services market is changing at an alarming rate for ethical providers. Typically, they don’t have the knowledge or the significant IT budgets required to launch apps that are on par with online banks such as Monzo and Revolut.

“By next year, over 80 per cent of financial transactions will be carried out on smartphones. Ethical providers need to leap forward to become digital first and remain relevant for the next generation of savers and borrowers – millennials. This grant will help Soar build cost-effective and cutting-edge solutions that will help the whole market compete and grow in this fast-paced sector.”

Jim Watson, Scottish Enterprise’s director of innovation, added: “The success of Soar is testament to the vibrant fintech scene here in Scotland, with the company going from strength to strength since it launched just over a year ago.

“This R&D grant will allow Soar to develop further innovative products so that ethical banking organisations – often lifelines for our most vulnerable communities – can remain competitive against the new wave of online banks.”