Spanish bank BBVA has set up a $100 million venture fund to invest in startups with the potential to transform the financial services industry.
Based in Silicon Valley, BBVA Ventures will work with entrepreneurs and venture capital investors "to broaden the bank's understanding of emerging trends".
Jay Reinemann, a veteran corporate venture capitalist and executive director of BBVA Ventures, says: "Investing in startup companies committed to new business models enables BBVA to learn and anticipate the emerging challenges facing the financial services sector. What's more, entrepreneurs and co-investors can leverage BBVA's extensive experience, brand and global distribution network in the financial sector to accelerate their growth."
He says the venture fund will invest in areas that are of "strategic importance" to the bank, including mobility, customer loyalty, e-commerce, payments and data analytics.
BBVA completed its first investment in Silicon Valley in early 2012 with an investment in the seed-capital fund and incubator 500 Startups Fund. The fund was founded by investor and entrepreneur Dave McClure, who previously worked with companies such as PayPal, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mint and Microsoft. So far, 500 Startups has invested in more than 400 companies. Some of these - such as Simple, inDinero, PeerTransfer or WePay - are developing new business models in financial services.
More recently, BBVA completed investments in SaveUp and Ribbit Capital. SaveUp applies gaming techniques to encourage savings, debt reduction and financial education. Ribbit Capital is a new Silicon Valley-based venture firm led by serial entrepreneur Meyer Malka. Ribbit, which recently raised its own $100 million venture fund, targets disruptive, early stage companies around the world.
In October, Sberbank of Russia also announced plans to set up a $100 million venture fund, rising to a possible $700 million over three years, to invest in promising fintech start-up companies.