Orca to launch new ISA after funding boost

An Edinburgh fintech has landed close to £600,000 in fresh funding to deliver its ambitious development plans, including the launch of a 'first of its kind' individual savings account (ISA) in the new year.

From left: Orca co-founders Iain Niblock and Jordan Stodart. Picture: Contributed
From left: Orca co-founders Iain Niblock and Jordan Stodart. Picture: Contributed

Orca, which enables savers to spread their investment across several peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders, raised £574,280 via crowdfunding platform Seedrs, a number of venture capitalist funds and private angel investors.

The aggregator, which has a second office in Belfast, announced in September that it was targeting a £500,000 crowdfunding bid via Seedrs, whose backers include Sir Andy Murray.

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Notable contributors to the funding round include Northern Ireland’s TechstartNI and Clarendon Fund Managers, as well as Scotland’s ESM Investments, an angel investment network comprised of more than 80 high-net-worth individuals investing in early-growth-stage technology businesses.

Orca will use the cash boost to fuel its expansion plans, which include extending its range of integrated lenders and launching the Orca ISA early next year.

Described by the fintech as the “first of its kind in the market”, the account is designed to capitalise on the popularity of innovative finance (IF) ISAs, which use an ISA wrapper for tax-efficient investing.

Following their launch in April 2016, the number of new IF ISAs grew more than five-fold in the tax year to March 2018, with some 31,000 opened during that time.

According to Orca, investors typically hold one P2P investment within an IF ISA, while the remainder are held in taxable general investment accounts.

The Orca ISA will allow investors to hold multiple P2P providers in a single IF ISA.

It will also allow users to earn up to 6.5 per cent interest, earn tax-free returns, diversify ISA money across multiple providers and invest in the Orca portfolio.

Orca said it is already compiling a waiting list of investors anticipating its ISA launch.

The platform currently integrates with five major P2P lenders, Assetz Capital, Landbay, Lending Works, Octopus Choice and LendingCrowd, and is expecting to integrate with a range of new lenders in 2019.

It also announced plans to launch a “self-select portfolio builder” which will allow savers to implement their own investment strategies.

Orca chief executive Iain Niblock, who founded the firm with his cousin Jordan Stodart, said: “We’re delighted with the success of our recent funding round, particularly the response from the crowd who really got behind us.

“2019 will be a landmark year for Orca as we roll-out new products to fulfil the needs of investors. The Orca ISA will be the first multi-platform ISA of its kind, combined with the launch of our self-select portfolio builder, we are confident that Orca can develop into the go-to platform for peer to peer investing.”