Back to News and Blogs

Why we’re building a bank





Building a bank isn’t easy. So why are we doing it?

We’re on a mission to accelerate scientific discovery, and we’re building a bank to do just that. But why would building a bank help accelerate scientific discovery?

Scientific research is the engine of our advancement, and needs oiling

Scientific research generates the discoveries that help us address the major issues that we — and our planet — face. Whether it’s combating climate change, improving the quality of lives through medical advancement, or breaking new ground with computational power, scientific research underpins each new step forward.

Scientific research is also expensive to undertake. Labs cost money, people need paying, and highly specialised equipment needs procuring. Research is also lengthy, technical, painstaking and often unglamorous — meaning that it tends to not receive the broad public attention and recognition that it deserves.

The end result is that scientific research doesn’t have the prominence that matches its impact — and this in turn affects the funding that scientific research receives. In the UK alone, the deficit between research income and the cost of research was £4bn in the 2019–20 fiscal year. Insufficient financial support for scientific research ultimately holds it back. And if the research doesn’t happen, nor do the discoveries that help us address the global challenges of our day.

How building a bank can help

Banks have been around for centuries. The banking model hasn’t actually changed a great deal during that time — and one of the biggest shifts that we’ve seen in recent years has been the advent of e-money institutions (EMIs), commonly grouped as challenger banks, or neobanks.

Neobanks recognised that banking could be rebuilt from the ground-up as a customer-focused, digital-first proposition, at the same time lowering costs for both providers and customers. All of a sudden, banks became accessible — in other words, modernised — but although beautifully designed, the products were essentially the same.

The second wave of neobanks, which we’re seeing today, is taking this a step further. They’re more mission-driven, and are often setting out to use the banking system to solve financial inefficiencies, and issues relating to sustainability.

This is where we come in.

At Science Card we are creating a bank with its mission at its core — the UK’s only current account dedicated to accelerating scientific discovery — as we believe that’s the most effective path to ensuring a sustainable future.

We’re going a step further though, building ‘not just’ a bank, but also the infrastructure to connect banking to the scientific research funding ecosystem. By placing scientific research projects alongside your current account in the Science Card app, we’re aiming to accelerate discovery where it matters most. This is how:

  • We’re making it as straightforward as possible for our customers to support the scientific research they value the most, by just doing what they already do every day — make payments from their current accounts.
  • We’re giving research projects a degree of prominence, by bringing them to a new audience on the Science Card app.
  • We’re passing funding directly to the researchers themselves, dramatically improving the pace and efficiency of the fund-raising process. The quicker that funding is received, the sooner that the research can start.
  • We’re harnessing the power of the many, by enabling our customers to make small contributions towards the research projects that they support, and aggregating them until the projects reach their funding targets. Small steps can have significant impact.
  • 10% of Science Card’s profit will be contributed towards scientific research projects.

Building a bank isn’t straightforward. Like the research projects we support, it’s a long process, requiring perseverance. But we have one other thing in common with the research projects we support: we’re doing this because we believe that it will genuinely have a positive impact on the world we live in.