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Deutsche Bank launches small business digital operation

Fyrst, from the German giant, is aimed at start-ups and self-employed professionals.

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Deutsche Bank has launched a digital bank to take on other lenders in the German micro-business market.

Fyrst targets freelancers, self-employed professionals and start-ups of up to ten people. The new app-only bank was launched by Germany’s largest bank earlier this month.

The service offers free banking, a bank business card as well as cash deposits and payments within Germany. The bank also offers a €10 a month service, which adds phone support, order management services and discounted use of sevDesk accounting software.

“Fyrst is the first digital bank dedicated to entrepreneurs, the self-employed, freelancers and those who want to fulfill their dream of having their own business - with the promise of a major bank,” said the business on its website.

Targeting the micro-business market

The German market holds around 2.3 million self-employed workers and 3.1 million firms with up to nine staff. However, Fyrst is entering a market where there is competition for Germany’s micro-businesses.

It will compete against Finnish small business app-only bank Holvi, which has operated in Germany since 2015. The fintech, owned by Spanish giant BBVA, has around 150,000 customers, with around 40 per cent of those in Germany.

Two Berlin-based small business digital banks also operate in this market: Kontist founded in 2017, and Penta, which has around 6,000 customers.  

Digital bank N26, backed by billionaires Peter Thiel and Li Ka-shing, has also recently launched banking for freelancers and the self-employed. The business, founded in Berlin six years ago, has amassed around 3.5 million customers across Europe, but has not broken down how many business banking customers it has.

Wide-sweeping changes

Deutsche Bank’s move comes after the world’s 17th largest bank announced a restructuring last month, which will cost 18,000 jobs globally as it continues its withdrawal from investment banking following the financial crisis and switches its focus to corporate services. The group has assets of $1.5trn.

Among wide-sweeping changes revealed by the lender's chief executive Christian Sewing, the business will shut the division that sells and trades shares and has pledged to cut an annual €6bn from the bank’s running costs by 2022. However, the bank has pledged to spend €13bn on technology over the next four years.

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