A new 'social network' financial institution BankToTheFuture.com launches today, offering an open, transparent way for entrepreneurs, businesses and investors to raise finance and invest in each other.
The launch comes just weeks after the online CrowdFunding platform made it into the Top 50 of Sir Richard Branson's global Virgin Unite Screw Business As Usual competition, with praise from Branson himself for BankToTheFuture.com's transparency and goals.
One of a number of growing CrowdFunding ventures, BankToTheFuture.com com is different from other financiers available to the public because it is the world's first social media-driven financial institution, evaluating customers on their social media 'capital' on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ and not just credit rating like traditional banks. All members of BankToTheFuture.com get to build their social capital score for the future, which measures additional factors such as reviews, social media activities and recommendations.
BankToTheFuture.com is also making three types of financial offerings available - CrowdFunding, CrowInvesting and CrowdLending (available 2013) but any money will only be invested in products and businesses that seek to bring out new value and potentially create jobs in the future. Unlike traditional banks charging interest on loans, people who join BankToTheFuture.com get to lend their savings direct to creditworthy borrowers to receive the interest on their savings as well as invest in shares and rewards in the businesses that they feel deserve it, plus they'll see exactly what happens with their money.
Businesses already pitching for finance on BankToTheFuture.com include Life Lite Ltd, a patented invention to save children's lives in the case of a fire; Strong Room - one of Shoreditch's first bars and recording studios, inspiring more talented creative thinkers and The Personal Development Bureau - a business helping unemployed ex-armed forces, ex-police officers and ex-fire workers start their own businesses. In the first day of launch, The Personal Development Bureau gained nearly 20% of its funding target by raising its first £9,000. BankTnkToTheFuture.com even funded its start-up capital through its own platform, funded by other entrepreneurs, after declining an offer from traditional Angel Investors.
A STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO GAINING FUNDING OR INVESTMENT AT BANKTOTHEFUTURE.COM
• All pitches have to aim to create some new value and aim to build jobs in the future
• People need to sign up to pitch or invest and complete their profile in full, with their social media profiles which then gives them a social capital score, which BanktotheFuture.com verifies against. Sign up at www.banktothefuture.com
• They then need to answer a few questions about what they want to achieve and what they want to do with the money and BanktotheFuture.com will follow up with an interview or accept / reject
• BanktotheFuture.com only accepts if they feel that person has the social capital to do well in that type of funding and are willing to put the effort in to create a good pitch video
• Entrepreneurs have a maximum of 90 days to raise the finance for their pitches through BanktotheFuture.com
• The minimum investment is £10, the maximum is unlimited
• In the case of lending (as of 2013), their business needs to be trading for a minimum of two years, with good cash flow and a good credit rating
BanktotheFuture.com CEO Simon Dixon said: "The goal was to build the world's first social network financial institution where everything is transparent and open and people can see what happens with their money, as well as offering support to the entrepreneurs and businesses that deserve it. BanktotheFuture.com is a working model that is changing the rules of money and banking to show that there is a viable way that can serve people, entrepreneurs and businesses and make the funds available to those who have missions to do good through their businesses. At the same time we wanted to break down the restrictive costs and bureaucracy that investors used to have to go through when they invested in private businesses. By signing up to www.BanktotheFuture.com, ordinary people can now invest in the country's future businesses, a game that was previously only available to rich people. We are offering a new way to invest small and large sums of money in a way where you can see exactly who it goes to, so we can all get on with creating businesses and investing in things that might actually create some jobs one day".
Sir Richard Branson commented on the industry and launch of BanktotheFuture.com: "With recent scandals tarnishing the banking sector once again, there's a real opportunity for positive change in the industry. I believe banks should be about more than just money. There's a bigger role to be played and that's why my own bank, Virgin Money, has the ambition and aim to make everyone better off - customers, staff, shareholders and communities. We have a great team under the leadership of Jayne-Anne Gadhia - who I know will shake up the industry and challenge the big five that have dominated the high street for too long. We bought Northern Rock in January this year and we have been very impressed by the reception we already have. Look out for more Virgin Money branded accounts and mortgages over the next year. I like the goals of BankToTheFuture.com, where everything is transparent and open and people can see what happens with their money. It is great that they are offering support to entrepreneurs and businesses who will create jobs in the future".