Finance · 31 January 2017

Heard of the Tide banking app? It claims to “revolutionise” small business finance

Tide banking app
The app allows users to upload any supplier invoice and have a payment prepared automatically

The venture capital-backed Tide banking app has launched with a bold claim to “revolutionise” how small business owners manage their finances in the future.

Set up by George Bevis, the Tide banking app can be set up “in a matter of minutes” using a passport or driving licence – with all UK sole traders and limited companies with UK shareholders guaranteed to be accepted as customers.

With financial management conducted solely through the app, customers receive a UK sort code, account number and MasterCard for daily expenses.

While an automated bookkeeping service for categorising transactions and customisable invoices are provided, users will be charged 20p per bank payment and £1 for each cash withdrawal.

Bevis, who created the Tide banking app last year, believes that business services offered by high street banks have failed to meet the needs of modern small business owners.

Factors such as slow sign-up processes, hidden charges and poor customer services have left business banking in the “dark ages”, he added, with Tide designed to change that.

“We want to remove the pain points that small business owners have previously faced and make Tide a true partner in their day to day business,” he continued.

“Managing financial admin is never a small business owner’s favourite task. With Tide, entrepreneurs can save time and money, enabling them to spend more time doing what they love and growing their business,” he continued.

In getting to a point where it has been able to launch across iPhone, Android and the internet, the Tide banking app used the feedback of what it calls “Founder Members” – a cross section of small business owners from around the UK who have provided feedback on development.

Business Advice reached out to Tide and Bevis to find out more, wanting to discover how it will work for Britain’s small business community.

“We have been testing in ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ modes for months with hundreds of founder members.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” he told us. “In particular we find that they value the simplicity of signup and usage experience, and the auto-categorisation of payments for accounting purposes.”

Asked about small business owners that need advice and guidance with their finances that go beyond an app, Bevis said the Tide banking app online community was set up for just this purpose.

“We take the view that bankers have historically been terrible sources of advice and guidance – far worse than accountants and other real experts,” he added. “We want to create an open space where our members can share their expertise and discuss their needs.”

But as a small business becomes a bigger one, will Tide still be able to cater to its needs?

“Although we are launching with a product optimised for businesses of up to 200 staff today, we expect to be able to cater for much larger businesses by the end of this year,” he revealed. “So we expect the range of our functionality to grow faster than the revenues of our members, so we’ll be able to serve them throughout their journey.”

Tide’s growth and development to date has been funded by a $2m investment it secured from Passion Capital in July 2016. Led by partner Eileen Burbidge, the deal also included contributions from well-known entrepreneurs such as Zoopla’s Alex Chesterman, Songkick’s Ian Hogarth and Wonga founder Errol Damelin.

Burbidge, now chairman of Tide banking app and also one of our Small Business Decision Makers, commented: “Having invested in more than 60 businesses in the past few years, my partners and I at Passion Capital know setting up and managing business banking efficiently is one of the biggest issues and source of frustration faced by SMEs today.

“The service and flexibility that Tide offers will modernise the small business banking landscape and life for business founders across the UK.”

Tide's founder George Bevis with investor and new chairman Eileen Burbidge
Tide’s founder George Bevis with investor and new chairman Eileen Burbidge

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Business Advice. He is also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative. Prior to his role at Real Business, he was editor at competitor website Growth Business and head reporter at M&A Deals. Throughout his career he has interviewed leading entrepreneurs including Alex Chesterman, Lopo Champalimaud, Sarah Wood, James Averdeick and Alex Saint.

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