Finnish banking startup Holvi speeds up online identity verification

Finnish startup Holvi's online-only banking service has been growing customers and reputation – and now wants to accelerate its services

Holvi is determined to shake-up the banking sector. The Finnish finance technology (fintech) startup has been growing the customer base for its an online-only banking service, and now wants to speed up operations for customers.

Holvi has partnered with identity intelligence specialist GBGroup to offer faster customer verification and authentication.

“Had we not launched a co-operation with GBG, a lot more complexity would have been added in the verification process,” said Luis Calleja Rodriguez, chief compliance officer at Holvi. “This includes individual contracts with local services in numerous local credit agencies or government related databases and its implementation and maintenance.”

“Working with GBGroup allows our clients to open an account in under a minute, and they don’t need to provide data or paper-documents; taking out the stress of the traditional banking system.”

Holvi (Finnish for a ‘vault) targets its online banking platform at freelancers, micro companies and SMEs. The platform integrates current accounts with business tools such as invoicing, budgeting and financial reporting. The company said it can build an online store into a customer's account.

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GBGroup drives Holvi's expansion

GBGroup and Holvi have worked together for the past nine months after Holvi (established in 2011) expanded to Austria, its first market outside Finland. Holvi launched in Germany in March 2015 and has begun taking early access customer registrations in 29 more European countries.

Holvi is not technically a bank. The company is a "licensed payment institution" authorised by the Financial Supervisory Authority of Finland for operations across the European Union (EU). Holvi CEO Johan Lorenzen said the company is more of an internet service.

“We started from the premise that SMEs are an underserved sector by traditional banks, because banks don’t really understand how they work and operate,” he explains. “We offer them a current account combined with small business tools and it becomes more like a business management platform with basic bank account functionalities in one go.”

Financial services platform finds suppliers

In the long term, Holvi said it is not looking to become a bank offering loans and savings. Instead it envisions building an "app store of financial services" with which to match customers and service providers. 

Lorenzen believes the future of banking is in "pick-and-mix" services, where a client can shop around to meet their financing, saving and other banking needs. The change is already happening as digitally focused banks and finance services are popping up on the market.

“It has been evolutionary progress and we’re currently at the point where you have the perfect storm where the regulation is ready, technology is ready and the customer demand is there. The disruption will happen over the next two to five years. You’ll see a lot of challengers banks coming up,” said Lorenzen.

“The future of banking is that business banking will basically cease to exist, replaced by a lot of specialised services – especially for small businesses.”


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