Fintech start-up Pockit catapulted into the financial services space with the goal to include the 4 million unbanked and ‘unbankable’ customers. Today, the company announced that it hit the 100,000 customer milestone, overtaking three of its industry peers, Monzo, Atom and Tandem – combined.
Traditionally, ‘financially excluded’ Britons have had to rely on cash in the absence of bank accounts. Pockit’s founder and CEO, Virraj Jatania, spoke to GrowthBusiness earlier this year on the start-up’s vision to bring banking services to the underserved. “They still use Western Union to send money home. They’ve never had an insurance product or savings product. We aim to provide full financial services for our customers,” he said.
After hitting this milestone, Pockit now has a range of product refinements in the works, including establishing account numbers and sort codes for their customers, meaning that its accounts now have all the attributes of an online current account. By the end of the year, its customers will also be able to set up direct debits and send remittances abroad.
With £100 million transacted on Pockit so far, the startup has raised £6 million from investors including the Jatania family, Concentric Ventures, payments entrepreneur Harold Mechelynck, renowned investor Jon Moulton, Mothercare CEO Mark Newton-Jones, and legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Jatania first became interested in the issue of financial exclusion while growing up. His entrepreneurial family, who were among the thousands of Asians to be expelled from Uganda by President Idi Amin in 1972, moved around continuously, from Nigeria, initially, to pre-boom Dubai, Yeltsin-era Russia and India, during which time he repeatedly witnessed how cash-dominated societies make it difficult for individuals to manage their money or save for the future.
Jatania realised that financial exclusion is an entrenched Western problem, too, and one which comes at considerable cost: people without bank accounts find it much harder to pay bills or shop online for cheaper products, and cannot access the lower tariffs offered by utility and other companies to those who pay by Direct Debit. Today this demographic face stark choices: stick to cash, use a friend or family member’s bank or credit card, or turn to pre-paid cards with often crushing hidden fees.
“Reaching 100,000 customers is a tipping-point moment for Pockit, as not only is it the first time any of the UK’s neo-banks have reached such a milestone, but it also proves that we’re successfully solving a longstanding and deep-rooted problem,” according to Jatania. “Pockit is radically different from the other digital-era challenger banks because they are essentially ‘Shoreditch’ solutions for the tech community – whereas Pockit offers anytime, anywhere banking for everyone.”