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Industry heavyweights raise EUR45m for Italian challenger bank

Industry heavyweights raise EUR45m for Italian challenger bank

A pair of veteran Italian banking executives has raised EUR45 million and taken the first steps to acquiring a license for a new digital bank for small businesses.

The venture, currently going by the name the Banca Idea Project, is the brainchild of former Unicredit group general manager Roberto Nicastro and ex Unicredit, ING and Nexi executive Federico Sforza.

In what is the largest ever first round of financing for an Italian fintech, they have raised EUR45 million from, among others, Generali Group, Sella Group, IFIS Group, and ISA.

The plan is to launch a digital challenger bank offering small businesses simple, agile services backed by experienced industry professionals.

To help do this, the project has bought Fide, a company that currently operates in the salary-backed loans business and will help secure a full banking license.

Nicastro will act as non-executive chairman, with Sforza CEO. They have brought in people from SoGen, AmEX, Unicredit and Barclays to join the management team.

Says Sforza: "Despite the challenging times, we managed to complete this significant round of financing as well as the acquisition of the Fide platform.

"This should allow us to be on the market already in the autumn with innovative credit solutions for small businesses, characterized by simplicity, speed and reliability based on AI solutions, open banking and PSD2 opportunity."

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