Two of Europe’s most high profile fintech startups are hooking up to offer better financial services to small businesses and the growing community of ‘solo-preneurs’, self-employed people and freelancers that struggle to access traditional banking and finance products.
The ‘makers and doers’ – as Finnish neo bank Holvi describes its customers – and the small merchants that German mobile payments firm SumUp cater to have traditionally got a bum deal when it comes to financial services.
However, over the past few years, this hugely underserved market is one that has been increasingly targeted by companies using technology – especially mobile – to offer faster, cheaper services that cater to small business needs.
SumUp, recently merged with its local Berlin rival Payleven (backed by Rocket), offers mobile point of sale hardware that lets small business accept card payments and competes with Sweden’s iZettle.
Holvi, which was recently acquired by Spanish bank BBVA, is a digital banking platform built specifically to serve small businesses. Its customers get an online account, a MasterCard and digital accounting services rolled into the service – three things that have traditionally been challenging for small operations to get hold of.
The sheer number of small and micro businesses in Europe, and indeed the world, that have struggled to access financial services means there is a massive market ripe for dedicated players to come in and serve.
According to data cited by the companies, the number of self employed people in Germany has increased by almost 40 % in the past 10 years to hit around 1.34 million.
The partnership makes sense for the two companies as they try to offer more comprehensive services to their respective customers. In a market increasingly crowded with similar products – especially in mobile payments as SumUp’s recent merger testifies – differentiation is do or die.
It also points to a future where a customer is offered financial services by a bundle of fintech companies working together and also by traditional players partnering with fintechs as we have seen in the loan referrals space between Funding Circe and high street banks.
Amid the growing spirit of collaboration between traditional finance and fintech and between fintechs themselves we can expect more of these tie-ups coming down the line before long.
It’s also about internationalising faster, with the partnership allowing Holvi to quickly sell into the German small business market and SumUp to piggyback on Holvi’s European expansion – especially in the Nordics where iZettle dominates.
“Partnering with SumUp is the natural next step for us in Germany,” says Johan Lorenzen, Holvi CEO. “Our customers are more and more looking for an easy way to accept card payments and we’re happy to provide them a cost effective alternative through SumUp.”
“Holvi is a modern banking service tailored for small business needs, says Maximilian Stella, VP business development, SumUp. “The Holvi business account will allow our customers to focus on their core competences, which made them start their businesses in the first place.
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