Founded in 1945 and focusing on funding visionary entrepreneurs to help rebuild the Netherlands after the Second World War, NIBC today continues the legacy of building and developing by actively supporting and developing the fintech ecosystem. The bank has mobilised a range of vehicles to achieve this, including a commitment to financially support alternative lenders (indirectly financing visionaries); directly ensuring fintechs have access to traditional financing options without the traditionally attached barriers to overcome; and an innovation lab that engages the marketplace to inspire an organization-wide mentality to innovate.
Ahead of a busy week with both Money20/20 Europe and Amsterdam Fintech Week, we sat down with Thijs Poorthuis, Associate Director – FinTech & Structured Finance, and Duncan de Vries, Head of NIBC’s Innovation Lab, to discuss NIBC’s growing role in the fintech community.
Traditional lending for the alternative lenders?
A swathe of investments and support for alternative lenders in recent times have marked NIBC with a reputation for ‘putting their money where their mouth is”. The pair note that many of these businesses have “trouble sourcing traditional financing at large banks” and are proud to list their recent partnerships helping overcome these troubles.
Most recently the Dutch bank extended funding to Scottish lending platform LendingCrowd, which provides SMEs with same-day decisions and funds within 10 days. Extending their commitment to their “core values of entrepreneurship and incentivising further boosting innovation,” NIBC also recently strengthened their partnership with iwoca, a small business lender. Again championing the convergence of technology and finance, NIBC teamed up with ACORN OakNorth last year, a platform that enables lenders across the globe to unlock the potential in complex lending to mid-market businesses by leveraging machine learning and big data.
Thijs and Duncan are quick to go on record that these partnerships aren’t merely about financial support.
More than Money
Nearly all fintech start-ups originate in a single market, and Thijs notes that many find it difficult to cope with unforeseen challenges when expanding into other countries. While they are active in supplying “mere financing to fund growth”, NIBC also has in depth local market expertise to act as a sparring partner on jurisdictionally sensitive issues such as “fiscal, regulatory and legal”. For them, partnerships with fintechs often develop into a relationship where they “can learn from each other”. One clear example is their partnership with Ebury, in which NIBC also own a strategic stake. Alongside financing the growth of this cross-border financial solutions provider, NIBC extend the support of Ebury products to their own clients, and has piloted one of their “most exciting technologies” themselves; a lead generation technology that uses machine learning to find new clients. Thijs explains that “they can learn from these fintech visionaries whilst at the same time using the bank’s experience and expertise to validate and provide feedback to new and ambitious market players”.
Duncan runs the innovation lab on the understanding that “We can always be increasingly inventive”, constantly driving colleagues to prioritise innovation. “We obviously prefer to innovate with start-ups and scale-ups who can help us with the knowledge and technology that we don’t have. But it’s not a one way street as we can help them with things like accommodation, capital, our network, and research data.” Alongside Ebury’s lead generation technology, another technological development that caught the pair’s attention as a key area where fintechs can teach the banks was in alternative lending. “These companies regularly have a ‘data first’ mentality using both old and new (non-traditional) data sources as they realise that the collection of relevant and timely data will allow them to make faster and better analysis.”
NIBC will have a strong representation at both Money20/20 and Amsterdam Fintech Week and are excited to exchange knowledge and expertise in lending (both alternative and traditional) for insights from the most promising new financial services players.