Accenture's FinTech Lab to focus on societal issues and diversity

In its ninth year, Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab London has welcomed a new cohort of 20 FinTechs, with a number offering solutions to tackle societal and sustainability challenges.

During a three-month accelerator programme - which runs from 11 January to 31 March - the FinTechs will be partnered with senior executives from over 40 of the top UK financial institutions, industry leader mentors and Accenture’s own subject-matter experts.

To ensure this year’s cohort was best placed to tackle key business and societal issues through its programme streams, said Accenture, the Lab approached the financial institutions collaborating with it on the programme to determine their priorities for 2021.

As a result, the four new programme streams of purpose, emerging tech, security and data have been established for the 20 startups to work through.

Startups involved are addressing areas including climate risk analytics, security, green finance, debt-management platforms, data risk, uses of AI to remove bias and ESG investing, among others.

For example, Ophelos is a FinTech disrupting the consumer debt space by helping households and financial institutions to prioritise financial well-being with its AI-driven digital debt collection tool.

Elsewhere, Vested Impact is a startup with a new approach to ESG investing, using automated AI capabilities to focus on the societal impact of a firm’s product or service.

In addition, CoGo is an app that allows consumers to track their carbon footprint and their societal impact together, by categorising and assigning a carbon footprint to each payment transaction.

“The events of last year took us all by surprise and forced all financial institutions to react rapidly to changing demands,” said Graham Cressey, FinTech Innovation Lab programme director for Accenture UK.

“If there’s anything we’ve learnt from such a challenging time, it’s that there’s never been a greater need for purposeful organisations to make a difference at speed.

“FinTechs may hold the key to quickly helping society on its road to recovery, and making them valuable partners in the industry,” said Cressey.

Funding for FinTechs led by minority groups has historically suffered, said Accenture, and wasn’t helped by the pandemic.

As part of Accenture’s commitment to ensuring FinTechs from all backgrounds have the “opportunity to excel”, the Lab put out a “strong call” for startups from diverse backgrounds in terms of gender and race.

This led to this year’s Lab having the most diverse set of finalists the programme has ever had, where out of the final 20 firms, 40 per cent are female-led and 45 per cent are led by minority ethnic groups.

Cressey said: “Supporting FinTech as a force for good means nothing without looking inwardly at this year’s cohort itself, which is why we are proud to have a diverse Lab team and to be supporting founders from all backgrounds in a bid to level the playing field.”

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