Startup Corner: Emma Technologies
Written by Chris Lemmon
FStech’s Chris Lemmon speaks with Edoardo Moreni, co-founder and chief executive of money management platform Emma Technologies.
What led you to found Emma Technologies?
There is no specific reason that led us to starting Emma and getting a company going, it was more a series of events that happened subsequently. After I graduated from the University of Manchester with my co-founder, Antonio Marino, we decided to relocate to Berlin with the aim to start a company together. We tried two different things and failed at all of them.
The first was a peer-to-peer lending marketplace, which did not go anywhere. The second was a budgeting app named Kiria that was connecting to German bank accounts. After Kiria, we realised Germany was the wrong market for anything financial related and decided to move to Italy.
We spent six months working remote, in different locations, to build the first version of Emma, which we launched in January this year. After a successful launch, we moved back to the UK, where we started fundraising and closed our seed round.
What differentiates Emma from other FinTech banking apps?
We are the only ones who understand how to make a banking app work. It’s not a simple job and there are lots of things under the hood that you need to figure out just to display the right numbers. There are companies which are trying to achieve the same accuracy, but they simply don’t get it. It takes a lot of passion, customer support and effort.
Which technologies are Emma using behind the scenes?
We don’t use anything complex in particular and most of the work we do is simply based on string matching, which is the ability to match a string A, like “Costa Coffee”, with string B, such as a transaction from a bank statement.
The biggest technological challenge was to retrieve information from bank transactions. They are mostly dirty and don’t make much sense. However, with the right algorithms, a lot of valuable data can be extracted and used to provide incredible insights to our users.
How difficult was it to gain authorisation from the FCA, and what benefits does authorisation bring?
We were one of the first companies to be registered with the FCA in January 2018 when PSD2 was fully enacted in UK. It took us a month to prepare the paperwork and submit it. It was quite a painful process, but I am glad we did it. At this point, we are only registered for registered account information service provider (RAISP), but we are going to gain authorisation for payment initiation services (PIS), which will enable us to process payments.
You recently closed a £420,000 seed funding round. How will Emma be investing that money?
We are extremely product oriented and focused. We don’t believe in any forms of marketing or advertising, which can only make us waste time. The only way to build a giant company is to have an incredible product, which everyone wants to use and play with.
Is Emma planning on expanding to other markets, especially with Brexit around the corner?
We don’t think Brexit is going to affect us at all. However, we are Europeans by blood, so we are looking to open up to a few other countries later next year. France will be the first.