PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel — one of the biggest names in the world of fintech, or financial technology — is on a European investment spree right now.
He’s just invested €1 million (£744,000, $1.1 million) into German startup Deposit Solutions, a company created to allow people to use products from multiple banks without having to actually switch banks, and to “transform the EUR 9 trillion European market of retail savings deposits with a unique b-to-b approach”.
The investment is Thiel’s third in a German fintech startup in the past year. As the Financial Times points out, Thiel’s VC firm Valar Ventures has already invested in two German startups in the last year. Valar backed Kreditech, a startup for people without much of a credit history, and Number 26, a mobile banking app. Both startups are Berlin based.
His investment in Deposit Solutions is part of a €6.5 million funding round for Deposit Solutions, led by German VC firm FinLab, but no valuation was given on Deposit Solutions as a whole.
In an emailed statement from Deposit Solutions, Thiel said: “With its unique approach, Deposit Solutions is revolutionising the value chain in the retail deposit business by creating significant advantages for savers and banks. It offers a clear, distinct competitive alternative secured by a proprietary technology with the potential to become the new back-end for the European retail deposit market.”
Tim Sievers, who founded Deposit Solutions in Hamburg in 2011, welcomed Thiel’s investment and explained the company’s product, saying: “We introduce to the retail deposits business what has long been a standard for other bank products such as mutual funds and mortgages: an open architecture for instant-access and fixed-term deposit products.
“With this innovation, we enable banks to reach a new level of customer service and efficiency in their retail deposit business.”
Thiel is one of Silicon Valley’s most recognisable investors, and is probably best known as one of the cofounders of PayPal, one of the first successful fintech companies, and for being one of Facebook’s first outside backers.
As well as investment into German fintech startups, Thiel has backed British companies, putting cash into AI company DeepMind before it was bought by Google in 2014. He also invested in fintech unicorn Transferwise, which allows people to transfer money overseas at a far lower cost than traditional methods.
Thiel’s European investments are a pretty big contrast to his comments about the continent’s tech scene last year. In an interview with the FT, he described Europe as a “slacker with low expectations” and “pessimistic and unmotivated”.