BBVA offloads Holvi to digital bank’s founder

By Aisling Finn on Wednesday 3 February 2021

Digital Banking

The Spanish banking giant fully acquired Holvi back in 2018, after holding a majority stake in the fintech since 2016. 

BBVA offloads Holvi to digital bank’s founder
Image source: Tuomas Toivonen/Holvi

Spanish bank BBVA has sold freelance-friendly banking service Holvi to Keru Fintech Investments Oy, an investment firm set up by one of Holvi’s co-founders.

Keru Fintech Investments was set up by one of Holvi’s co-founders and recently-appointed CEO Tuomas Toivonen for the sole purpose of reacquiring the fintech. 

Founded in 2011, BBVA purchased a majority stake in Holvi in 2016 before fully acquiring the self-employed-focussed banking service in 2018.

Tuomas Toivonen, CEO of Holvi and Keru Fintech Investments Oy, said: “This step marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Holvi and brings us closer to our entrepreneurial roots and our customers.”

“With the knowledge we have gained from BBVA’s support over the past few years, and the commitment of our experienced team, we are well-positioned to continue our mission of simplifying the working lives of the self-employed.”

Toivonen added that the “leadership, strategic thinking and operational experienced” he gained working with fellow Holvi co-founder Antti-Jussi Suominen helped put the fintech on the right track. 

Holvi first launched in the UK back in January 2020, after having successfully accumulated tens of thousands of SME customers across Germany, Finland and Spain, only to exit the UK market less than nine months later, citing Brexit and Covid-19 uncertainty.

At the time, Holvi’s now-former CEO Suominen said: “Great Britain is a challenging market - and we were ready to rise to this challenge. However, the speed with which market conditions are rewritten has changed.”

Holvi is also not the first digital banking service that BBVA has dumped in the past few months. 

No more than a week into 2021, the Spanish bank made the “strategic decision” to shutter its US-based digital bank Simple, which is widely regarded as the first digital bank. 

BBVA chose to shut up its digital banking shop following the $11.6bn sale of its US arm to American bank PNC.

Holvi’s exit from the BBVA group could be signalling a change in strategy for the Spanish banking giant—after all, once is chance and twice is a coincidence. 

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