Unizest: the E-account Service for New Arrivals to the UK

  • Product Reviews
  • 04.08.2021 11:57 am

What does the product do?

Unizest is a digital app that provides e-current accounts for newcomers to the UK - namely overseas workers and international students. As well as providing accounts direct to customers, we partner with recruitment agencies in order to help them recruit and retain international candidates by providing a much needed digital banking solution, specifically tailored to the needs of non-UK nationals. 

Who needs the product?

It can be difficult to open a UK bank account if you have no residential history or proof of address. This friction makes it hard for people arriving into the UK to work or study to get going - leaving them unable to receive salary payments, or to pay bills or rent via direct debit and bank transfer. The challenge of opening a bank account can also make the onboarding process difficult for the recruitment agencies and HR teams bringing in overseas staff to work: employees need a bank account to be paid into before they can start work. 

What is special about the product?

Unizest has a unique and simple digital onboarding process for non-UK residents; customers can sign up from anywhere in the world, allowing them to set up their account before they arrive in the UK without a need for a proof of UK address or residential history.

Unizest also provides unique offers within the app for discounts on everyday products, SIM cards and train travel, in order to really help new arrivals in the UK get the best possible start. 

We partner with independent and not-for-profit NGOs such as Just Good Work and the Association of Labour Providers to provide and incorporate resources and guidance for overseas workers within the app, around employment rights and practical advice on working and living in the UK. 

What features are relevant?

Unizest customers use an e-account app to manage their money and payments, and on arrival in the UK are sent a Mastercard Debit contactless card to use for secure transactions. The onboarding process links to Home Office Share Code to ensure customers have a confirmed right to reside in the UK, making the set up simple for Unizest users. 

Customers can also enjoy exclusive discounts for everyday spending and practical advice from our partners. 

Who is the competition?

We are providing a current account and as such we compete with some very established players - from High Street banks to newer fintechs and e-money providers such as Monzo or Cash Plus. 

We are very clear about who our target customer is and believe there is clear blue water between ourselves and other providers, both in terms of our desire to serve and the relevance of our product.

We respect all our competitors - after all, we are competitors to our competitors!

What are some real case examples?

We recently spoke to a young man from Hong Kong working at a well known fintech company who told us that he spent three months trying to open a bank account after arriving in London. We understand this is a really common experience for new UK arrivals - and not having access to a bank account in essence locks non-UK nationals out of society.

We hear from recruitment agencies that this happens a lot too - they refer to this group of people as ‘able to work but unable to pay’. We also hear from recruiters that they are still having to pay some people by cheque or cash - something that is a clear identifier of a wider problem.


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