BBVA has acquired Finnish digital current account startup Holvi, furthering its investment into tech-led alternatives to traditional banking.
Founded in Helsinki in 2011, Holvi offers a current account combined with business MasterCard for small business owners. The business, tipped as the hottest startup in Finland by Wired magazine, enables users to set up their own online store and provides aspirant entrepreneurs with a simple invoicing and money management tool. A licensed Payment Institution, which in the past has used Nordea Finland as its main banking partner, the company employs just eighteen full-time staff.
The acquisition is the latest in a string of recent investments by BBVA, which has been hoovering up fintech startups across the globe as part of its digital transformation strategy. In 2015, it agreed to take a strategic 29.5% stake in Atom, the yet-to-be-launched UK mobile-only bank, and acquired West Coast user experience firm Spring Studio. In 2014 the Spanish bank purchased big data and cloud-computing start-up Madiva Soluciones, and Portland, Oregon based neo-banking startup Simple. BBVA is also an investor in new venture capital partnership Propel, which is looking to take stakes in startups that are changing financial services through technology.
Teppo Paavola, chief development officer and general manager of new digital businesses at BBVA says of the latest acquisition: "We’re excited about Holvi as we share a vision about the benefit of technology for the customer. They use 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.”
BBVA will take an arms-length approach to running Holvi, but says there will be a "two-way flow of knowledge, ideas and support" between the two companies, with the company retaining all team members under the guidance of CEO Johan Lorenzen.
The value of the transaction is undisclosed.