UniZest – the banking services provider for international students – has opened a £300,000 public seed round on Funderbeam, the cross-border fundraising and trading platform for private companies. The funding will enable UniZest to evolve its existing product, reducing signup from two days to 15 minutes.


UniZest allows international students to open a pre-paid account in the UK without providing a UK address. The international student market has, historically, been overlooked by banks and major financial institutions. UniZest provides foreign students a full suite of banking services to improve their entire experience of studying in the UK. This includes a foreign exchange feature with highly competitive inter-bank rates and exclusive cash-back scheme. 


The fundraise will enable UniZest to develop and improve the online experience for existing customers, which will be achieved through the launch of a new version of the product. Additionally, the onboarding process for using the new product will be radically reduced from 2 days to 15 minutes. Having secured substantial private indications already, the public fundraise round is now open, providing investors an opportunity to access this fast-growing sector. 


Unizest was founded in 2015 by Peter Miles and Chris Donnachie, serial entrepreneurs with over 60 years combined entrepreneurial experience. Peter Miles, UniZest CEO, brings deep market knowledge of the higher education sector and previously founded student TV operator SUBtv. Chris Donnachie brings significant expertise in financial services sector Unizest. Together, they plan to scale the business internationally.


Peter Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, commented: “In the UK, there are over 500,000 international students, each spending £25,000 per annum, totalling £12.5bn in contributions to the economy. One in five prospective international students said they would be discouraged from studying in Britain if we leave the EU. Products such as ours are crucial in ensuring that the country remains an attractive and welcoming place to study, whether we leave the EU this year or not.” 


Guy Cohen, Lead Investor, said: “I’ve known Peter for some time now, so I knew he and Chris were truly onto something. Unizest has the potential to dominate this niche, yet sizable market of approximately 5 million students globally. The target audience for UniZest is young, and the exciting thing about that means they’re the leaders of tomorrow.”

 

Declan Blackwood, Investment Manager, Funderbeam, added: “We are delighted that UniZest have chosen to use our cross-border fundraising and trading platform for this seed round. While banks and large financial institutions are still constrained by geographic boundaries, fintechs like UniZest are uniquely positioned to service demographic groups that have historically been overlooked. International undergraduate and post-graduate students are one such group.”


UniZest partners with major global brands including Contis Group, Visa and FedEx. In 2018, UniZest was selected to participate in Barclays Techstars programme to accelerate its growth and took part in London & Partners’ China trade mission to support Chinese students coming to study in the UK.

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