Finnish SME banking specialist, Holvi, acquired by BBVA
BBVA has acquired Finnish online-only payments and banking services provider Holvi, as it seeks to expand its portfolio of digital businesses.
Holvi will continue to be run as a standalone business, and Spain-based BBVA says there will be a “two-way flow of knowledge, ideas and support” between both parties.
Teppo Paavola, chief development officer and general manager of new digital businesses at BBVA, says Holvi uses digital to bring a “new approach to small business banking, where services essential to a business’ future such as invoicing are built into their core offer”.
Johan Lorenzen, CEO of Holvi, adds that BBVA is the “ideal owner” as it gives the firm “the necessary room to grow, and then the scale and expertise to underpin that growth with sound foundations”.
Holvi, which was founded in 2011, provides entrepreneurs and SMEs with a range of financial and business services through its online platform. These include an online sales platform, an invoicing facility and a cashflow tracker. Following a successful pilot in its native Finland, it has been steadily expanding across the European markets.
Holvi holds a licence to operate as a payment institution across the entire European Economic Area under the new Payment Services Directive (PSD2) regulation.
This means it cannot offer deposits or loans, but customers are able to have funds in their Holvi account because this does not sit on the company’s balance sheet but is instead managed as segregated client funds.
Acquisitions and investments are part of BBVA’s growth strategy.
In 2015, it got a 29.5% stake in Atom, the UK’s first mobile-only bank, and acquired a US-based user experience firm, Spring Studio.
In 2014, BBVA purchased big data and cloud-computing start-up Madiva Soluciones, and Oregon-based tech company Simple, which offers mobile bank accounts.
BBVA is also an investor in new venture capital partnership Propel, which is looking to take stakes in fintech start-ups.