Finnish start-up Holvi, which brings fresh thinking to banking through modern technology and user experience design, has been granted regulatory approval for operation in all EU countries, with expansion set to start in three target markets.
According to EU figures, 99pc of all European businesses are SMEs, and nine out of 10 of these are micro-enterprises with less than 10 employees.
Holvi was set up to address the fact 61pc of European micro-enterprises say they need more support in banking and financial services and to revolutionise banking across Europe.
Targeting micro-entrepreneurs, freelancers, makers and doers, a Holvi account can be set up and activated in minutes, and then used to sell online, invoice clients and keep track of finances from one place, with no need for a separate bank account.
“Holvi changes the rules of the entire banking industry, particularly for small businesses and entrepreneurs, the segments poorest served by traditional banks,” said CEO Johan Lorenzen.
Holvi’s simple user interface
Lorenzen was recently appointed, following a €1m investment round led by SpeedInvest, an Austrian angel fund that invests in fin-tech start-ups based in central Europe.
“We believe that the financial industry is the next big vertical being ripe for digitisation and disruption, and Holvi is a leader of that movement,” said Oliver Holle, CEO of SpeedInvest.
Holvi was piloted in Finland last summer with encouraging results and, with plans for expansion on the horizon, the team travelled to 11 countries across Europe – including Ireland – to explore how people in different cities use their money and investigate where the business could grow beyond its country of origin.
Holvi has utilised the European Commission’s Pan-European Payment Service Directive, which was introduced to increase competition and participation in the payments industry from non-banks, and will launch in selected European countries within the next few months, starting with Austria.
Eventually, Holvi plans to be available Europe-wide and, with backing from SpeedInvest, which has an office in Silicon Valley to support portfolio companies entering the US market, who knows where this expansion could stop.