In a Nutshell: Small businesses are the backbone of the U.K. economy, currently contributing more than 90% of new private-sector jobs. But in a marketplace where big banks focus more on large accounts, entrepreneurs and startups need better access to financial services. Since 2005, digital-only Cashplus has provided an alternative to the U.K. High Street banking establishment by offering instant approval on current accounts and credit products for consumers and small businesses. And Cashplus is transitioning to full banking status, and plans to put its assets to work for its customers in the form of more affordable small business loans.
When Rich Wagner moved from the U.S. to the U.K. to assume an executive position at a banking institution, he found himself in a situation many U.K. arrivals find familiar — struggling to open a bank account. Even with his decades of experience in navigating the bureaucracy of financial services, he encountered obstacles.
Opening an account has long been a challenge not just for those moving to the U.K. but also for consumers and small businesses with meager or nonexistent credit histories. Those who fall outside the financial mainstream in the U.K. often find frustration in doing business with High Street banks.
The difference with Wagner was that his financial expertise put him in a position to do something about it. In 2005 he founded Cashplus, spurring the U.K. fintech revolution as a pioneer in offering prepaid cards to the U.K. market and as the first non-bank to offer current accounts.
Today, digital-only Cashplus provides a full suite of debit and credit products aimed at consumers and small businesses that need funding fast.
“Consumers who have been rejected by other institutions or who believe banks should be doing better in terms of design, delivery, and functionality are increasingly turning to Cashplus as their primary banking provider,” said a Cashplus spokesperson. “And more than 40% of nearly 100,000 small businesses working with Cashplus were previously declined by a High Street bank.”
The results for Cashplus, so far, are more than 1.6 million satisfied customers, nearly 2 million cards issued, more than £15 billion in payments processed, and eight straight years of record profits.
Open a Full-Featured Business Account in Minutes
Wagner and his team experienced firsthand the challenges U.K. small businesses face in accessing the banking system early on. Today, small businesses carry out 71% of Cashplus’s total transaction volume, with Cashplus earning a 7% share of all new U.K. business bank accounts.
That’s because applying for a Cashplus Business Current Account is a process that takes minutes, not weeks. And approval within seconds is guaranteed after small businesses complete a simple identity verification protocol.
The application process occurs entirely online, no credit check is required, and the account becomes available immediately to accept payments. It’s the kind of straightforward simplicity and convenience that works for sole proprietorships and micro-businesses up the scale and across all sectors.
All funds are safeguarded following U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Electronic Money Regulations, housed separately from company money and never accessible to any party other than the account holder.
The process works just as smoothly with the Personal Current Account — in either scenario, a contactless debit MasterCard is in the mail within five business days.
Back on the business side, features and benefits include a centralized account management system to administer, track, and limit the fleet of expense cards Cashplus provides. Downloadable statements assist with tax reporting, recordkeeping, and audits. And holders who travel abroad can add currency cards to permit payments in euros or U.S. dollars.
Robust API documentation enables convenient integration of Cashplus services into payment and accountancy platforms. These APIs take Cashplus businesses anywhere their preferred platforms go, eliminating redundancies and errors due to re-keying and enabling real-time tracking and reconciliations.
Flexible Credit Products and Management Tools Offer Easy Banking Access
Cashplus also recognizes that a little financial flexibility can mean the difference between bridging a cash flow gap and using personal savings to keep a business running. So it designed an innovative portfolio of credit products to ensure small businesses can access the support they need.
Business Current Account credit add-ons include Business Cash Advance, which is available to eligible customers through Cashplus preferred provider Liberis. Once a small business has met eligibility requirements, Liberis calculates an offer of up to £300,000, with repayment amounts adjusting in proportion to sales — all for a small up-front fee. For well-established small businesses, Business Cash Advance is a safe way to obtain liquidity to drive growth.
On a smaller scale, Business iDraft works like a safety net to make up to £2,000 in quick funds available for an occasional bill or to cover necessary maintenance. Emanating directly from Cashplus, this convenient credit carries a flat daily usage fee and a competitive APR that kicks in when it’s needed.
A formal Cashplus Business Credit Card is also available. As with the Cashplus current account products, the application process occurs entirely online. Initial limits of up to £3,000 are available, along with up to 56 days of interest-free credit for those dedicated to paying in full month to month.
The card also itemizes billing to help with expense tracking and allows contactless payments for purchases of up to £30 — all with no annual or monthly fees.
Managing accounts with Cashplus is as easy as accessing its website or full-featured mobile app. And the Cashplus platform permits electronic and international transfers for extra convenience. The company even partnered with the U.K. Post Office to accommodate over-the-counter transactions at any of its more than 11,500 branches.
A Marketplace for U.K. Small Businesses that is Transitioning to Full Banking Status
As Rich Wagner learned while struggling to enter the U.K. banking system, and later growing Cashplus, big U.K. institutions often aren’t eager to provide funding to small businesses. That’s why he saw an opportunity for Cashplus to deliver much-needed services and help fuel the U.K.’s entrepreneurial potential.
Cementing Cashplus’s status as a premier financial services provider is its Marketplace, where trusted partners can make special offers available exclusively to business account holders. Marketplace offers include products and services from top-tier providers, including payment processor Square and web development platform Wix.
The Marketplace helps busy entrepreneurs save time — and money — while formulating beneficial partnerships. Cashplus aims to serve as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs who want to spend time on their most important responsibility — running their business.
Next on the agenda for Cashplus is a transition to full banking status. Under its FCA e-money license, Cashplus already looks and feels like a bank to the end user. It’s an online financial services platform with current accounts, credit products, a marketplace, and API tools for businesses.
What’s missing is the opportunity to put its reserves to work on behalf of the U.K. economy. As an e-money issuer, Cashplus holds about £350 million in assets. As a bank, with a full banking license and enough capital in the business, it can lend out that money to customers who need to borrow it — as other banks do.
When Cashplus funds, which are currently safeguarded, become normal bank deposits, the result will be even more competitive small business lending services from Cashplus.