Holvi throws its app into UK digital business banking ring

By Oliver Smith on Monday 27 January 2020

Digital Banking

Tide, Monzo and Starling have a new app-based SME banking rival.

Holvi throws its app into UK digital business banking ring
Image source: Holvi CEO Antti-Jussi Suominen.

Finnish business banking app Holvi has officially launched in the UK, marking the group’s first non-Euro currency market.

Despite the uncertainty around Brexit, Holvi CEO Antti-Jussi Suominen told AltFi that the decision to launch was easy given the demand in the UK.

“There’s very little any of us know about Brexit, but the one thing that is certain is that there are almost 6m small businesses in the UK who need help with their finances,” he said.

Holvi already has over 200,000 self-employed, sole traders, freelancers and small business owner customers across Finland, Germany and six other European markets—customers that Holvi says save 10 hours a month by using its app to manage their business finances.

But the UK market certainly won’t be a walk in the park.

The BBVA-owned banking service will come up against Tide, which jointly won £60m from the RBS challenger fund with ClearBank and raised an additional £44m from its Series B, Starling, whose push into business banking is supported by the £100m it received from the RBS fund, and Monzo which last year reached a £2bn valuation.

Not that Suominen is fazed by the challenge.

“The fact is that in the UK there is already growing awareness of these digital services, which is a good thing for us,” he told AltFi.

“Our focus starts with a simple and intuitive interface, and features like invoice matching and payment notifications which saves business owners from having to keep track of their income without having to keep chasing up.”

Financially Holvi is still supported by its multinational Spanish banking owner, and in the UK will launch with a freemium model with no charge for a basic account and an extra £5/month for its smart invoicing features.

Lending is a natural fit for business banking, as shown by Starling Bank’s recent launch of in-house business lending, however Suominen said lending is something that “we’re looking into and I’m sure in the future we’ll pay more attention to.”

Part of the reason is that Holvi currently operates its services without a banking licence, which doesn’t look to change for the foreseeable future.

“We're continuously doing the cost-benefit analysis,” said Suominen. “But right now we don’t have anything to announce on that topic.”

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