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first direct ’s artha pilot marks new era in ‘marketplace’ banking

22 Feb 2018

first direct explores new opportunities in customer-focused digital banking with innovative fintech Bud

first direct is pioneering a new business model, providing consumers with an integrated offering of financial services products and tools from across the market, including those from other providers where appropriate.

Announced last year, the six-month artha pilot forms a key part of HSBC UK’s Open Banking strategy. It’s the first time a large financial institution in the UK has made third party products available for the benefit of customers.

Using the fintech firm Bud’s technology, the artha app allows users to bring bank accounts from the UK’s largest banks together in one place and categorise their spending data. Based on the categorised data the app can then analyse people’s needs to help them to find relevant financial products. For example, if the app saw that someone was paying a disproportionate amount for electricity, it could introduce them to utility switching services. 

The ‘marketplace’ will initially contain a range of products and services from a variety of different providers, covering areas including utility switching, investments and credit cards. Some of the providers included in the pilot include: American Express, Nutmeg, Wealthify, MoneyFarm, and Flipper.

Joe Gordon, Head of first direct , said: “In today’s environment, more and more customers are putting value on service and experiences not just products, and as such they want companies that focus on this. We believe it could make banking better, more transparent and more innovative for everyone.

“Trust is obviously a key element here, and customers want to work with brands they trust and feel are on their side. first direct has that pedigree and it’s the path we’re taking with the artha pilot.”

Additional features

artha is designed to help people establish a deeper understanding of where and how they are spending their money.

A ‘lists’ feature allows users to manually manage lists of transactions which can be shared with other users of the app (e.g. two people contributing to a shared budget), and a ‘targets’ feature allows users to set saving and spending goals.

Ed Maslaveckas, co-Founder of Bud, added: "artha is an exciting milestone both for Bud and for the industry. The open banking movement has promised a lot for a long time now and it's only through initiatives like this that we'll be able to start delivering on that potential.

"Open banking provides a massive opportunity for banks to engage more effectively with their customers and by demonstrating the value of industry collaboration, this kind of initiative has the potential to re-shape the financial services industry. The HSBC and first direct teams understand the impact this can have on customers and it’s a testament to them that they want to be at the forefront of this evolution in the industry."

Uttiyo Dasgupta, Head of Transactional Banking at HSBC, added: “The banking sector needs to innovate to meet changing customer needs, and at HSBC we’re investing significantly in digital innovation. Customer centric platforms like artha form part of HSBC’s wider Open Banking strategy, and allows us to test, learn and develop new services in a live environment and then deploy the new technologies at scale.”


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