B-Social, a London fintech that currently offers a “social finance” app and beta debit Mastercard, has raised £3.2 million in seed-round funding from undisclosed high-net-worth individuals. However, the fundraise is just the first step in a journey in which B-Social wants to eventually become a fully licensed bank that reimagines banking around everyday social interactions.
As it exists today, the B-Social app and accompanying card enables users to have control over everyday spending, track expenditures and create groups between friends to split bills and record settlements. It’s currently in the hands of a limited number of beta testers, spanning employees, investors, friends and family, with plans for a wider U.K. launch in February next year.
“We recognise that almost all financial transactions are inherently social,” B-Social co-founder and CEO Nazim Valimahomed tells me. “We want to change the relationship people have with money by helping them overcome the anxiety, awkwardness and wasted time when they engage with their social finances. We are doing that by building a digital bank that truly accommodates the way people live their lives and is dedicated to connecting a person’s finances to their social world.”
The idea was born in part out of Valimahomed’s own frustrations and is informed by his belief that individuals are often a bank themselves, lending and borrowing to friends and family by making shared purchases and then getting paid back.
“A simple example might be that you pay for flights for two or more people and then get paid back individually,” he says. “For multiple transactions, this becomes complex, often resulting in the trip organiser having to create a spreadsheet to work out what people owe across multiple transactions.”
To simplify this problem, B-Social wants to let you to make purchases with your card, which are flagged as an expense on behalf of a group of individuals. From here the bank to be will enable all members of a group — and where groups can be ad hoc and temporary or more long-term — to continuously see who is owed how much and to get paid back easily within the app and record settlements.
Dubbing this future proposition as the seeds of a “social bank,” the B-Social CEO cites competitors as traditional high-street banks that currently dominate the U.K. consumer market (the so-called big 5 have around 87 percent market share in the U.K.).
“We are aiming at winning a part of their market share by targeting customers looking for a bank as social as they are that offers a unique digital experience in order to help change the banking ecosystem forever,” Valimahomed tells me, although he also concedes that challengers such as Monzo, N26, Starling and Revolut have also built some basic social features into their apps but doesn’t view them as direct competitors.
“Our entire technology and product focus is to build a bank from scratch through a social lens,” he says.