The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute have teamed up to set financial and technology firms an ambitious mental health challenge. The charity and the financial regulator are bringing together some of the UK’s biggest banks and new start-ups to compete in a mental health ‘TechSprint’ hosted by PwC; developing tools and concepts to help customers with mental health problems manage their money.

Over 100 developers, mental health and technology experts from around 35 organisations will be taking part in the TechSprint. Participating organisations include Aire, Barclays, Baringa, BUPA, Burgess Salmon, CamCog, Capitol One, Coutts, Digital Space, Dunnhumby, Eclipse Experience, E3CT, High Tech Bristol & Bath CIC, Hitachi, IBM Watson, Imperial College London, iProov, Lloyds Banking Group, Mind, MindTech, Monzo, Nationwide, Nexus CX Ltd, NHS, Optimity Advisors, Play-Consult, PwC, RBS, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal College of Art, Santander, Shift Design, Squirrel, Startupbootcamp and University of Southampton.
People with mental health problems are three times as likely to be in financial difficulty, with many people struggling with things like staying on top of bills, controlling spending or communicating with banks. Today financial technology experts are being challenged to use their skills to help this group of vulnerable consumers to stay in the control of their finances.

TechSprints are held over two days, with teams competing to develop new technology ideas to help address a particular issue or challenge. These events form part of the FCA’s wider Project Innovate work which aims to foster innovation and technology to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.

The competing teams will be given their full brief today, before coming together for the two-day challenge on 14 and 15 March. The teams will be judged on how well their new tech tools and concepts would support customers with mental health problems, as well as how practical they are to implement in the real world. Winners will be picked by a team of judges including senior figures from Barclays, Santander, Monzo, Money and Mental Health, PwC, Lloyds Banking Group, Startupbootcamp, Nexus CX Ltd and the FCA with the aim of eventually making the tools available to consumers.

Commenting, Polly Mackenzie, Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said “Staying on top of our finances can be hard for all of us, not to mention shopping around for the best deals, planning for the future and budgeting. Now imagine trying to do all of those things while you’re depressed and can’t open the post, too anxious to make a phone call or struggling with your short term memory. Just like providing speaking ATMs or wheelchair accessible branches to help those with physical health problems use their services, banks need to offer support so that customers with mental health problems don’t get left behind.

“Financial technology is not just about juggling investments or working out how much you spend in Starbucks, it could be about transforming lives too. We’re delighted that the Financial Conduct Authority has thrown its weight behind this important mission, and excited to see financial services and tech companies rise to the challenge.”

Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA said “We have done a lot of work looking at the experience of vulnerable consumers in financial services and this has highlighted what a significant matter mental health represents. Technology plays an increasingly pivotal role in delivering innovative financial products and services. We believe that there is an opportunity to bring market participants together to work collaboratively on shared challenges to solve problems in the interests of consumers. We hope this TechSprint will generate potential solutions and look forward to working with the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.”