Spanish multinational banking giant BBVA has acquired yet another online banking startup in the form of Holvi, a Finnish firm that specializes in providing online current accounts and related services for “makers and doers” — ie small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs.
The news comes just over two years after BBVA paid $117 million in the U.S. for Simple, a “direct bank” that replaces physical branches with online and telephone-based support. And last year, BBVA also bought a 29.5 percent stake in U.K.-based online bank Atom for £45 million ($64 million) — a hefty amount considering Atom has yet to open to the public.
The motive behind BBVA’s move could not be clearer — it’s buying into the future of banking by investing in nimble, innovative young companies.
We’re seeing a slew of enterprising fintech startups popping up to try to “unbundle” traditional banking services — Peter Thiel-backed Number26 is one such company, as is peer-to-peer money transfer startup TransferWise. And just two weeks ago, those two companies banded together to “rebundle” services, for a new approach to banking that combines the specialities of multiple startups.
So, it’s not surprising to see BBVA paying special attention to fintech startups — it’s all about staying relevant. We can likely see other such acquisitions come to fruition in the coming months and years — not just from BBVA, but from other giants of the banking world.
“For us BBVA is the ideal owner– a bank with the understanding of the digital world that can give us the necessary room to grow, and then the scale and expertise to underpin that growth with sound foundation,” said Holvi in a blog post. “We’ve found the best possible partner to help us realise our vision and provide our customers with an even better Holvi than ever before. Our home will continue to be in Helsinki and Holvi will remain Holvi.”
BBVA said that it’s looking to “expand its portfolio of digital businesses to complement the Group’s overall transformation process,” and although Holvi will continue to operate as a standalone business, there will now be a “two-way flow of knowledge, ideas and support” between the two parties.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.