LONDON — A two-year-old German startup that provides tech that lets other companies offer financial services has raised €26.3 million (£22.9 million) to expand its banking platform to Asia and named a former Deutsche Bank exec as its new CEO.
Berlin-based fintech startup solarisBank has raised its chunky “Series A” funding round from Arvato, a financial services company owned by German media giant Bertlesmann, and Japanese internet investment company SBI Group. Existing investors Yabeo Capital, FinLeap, and UniCredit also took part in the round.
Alongside the investment, solarisBank announced on Tuesday it has also brought in Roland Folz as CEO. Folz previously ran German online bank DAB Bank, Mercedes-Benz Bank, and held senior roles at Deutsche Telekom. From 2009 until last year he was CFO of various divisions of Deutsche Bank.
Yabeo Capital’s Gerrit Seidel, who is taking over as chair of the supervisory board, told Business Insider: “The increasing internationalisation, plus underwriting, that simply stands for the necessity to get a traditional bench strength on the board. Honestly, that was always clear.
“Roland now as the CEO takes care of strategy, the central steering, the internationalisation, the risk management — really, taking the bank to the next level.”
The chunky investment is the first round of institutional funding for the two-year-old startup, which began operating its platform last March. solarisBank offers banking services to other companies — if a business wants to do something like launch a pre-paid card or take customer deposits, it can do this through solarisBank’s online portal.
CEO Folz told Business Insider: “We’re enabling others to do services that somehow involve a banking product. The banking products we offer are pretty straight forward. It’s digital banking, we can open accounts for third parties and run those accounts for them. We do e-money, which is pre-paid cards and that kind of stuff. We do deposits and we do lending.”
solarisBank has 16 customers live on its platform, including European car listing service AutoScout24 and gift card provider fashioncheque. It currently operates across six countries in Europe and has 80 staff.
Seidel says the funding will “go into a number of areas. Number one is core capital ratio. It’s a tech platform and a fintech but it is bank licensed and so you need capital for underwriting all the risks you have. Secondly, clearly around expansion. Tech, design, and roll-out. And of course employees.”
On expansion, Folz says solarisBank is targeting Asia. He told BI: “The agreement for Asia is that we would do joint ventures with SBI, where SBI would take a 60% stake and solaris would take a 40% stake. The agreement is that we would launch a company this year which would basically evaluate which market we’re going to enter first. The idea is to have first operations live at the beginning of next year.”
SBI pursued this model with blockchain payments business Ripple, helping it expand in Asia through a joint venture. The Japanese financial services company has been making a big push into fintech, launching a $US200 million investment fund, a research lab, and investing in companies like Ripple and digital currency exchange Kraken.
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