Has the peer lending revolution finally started taking off in Europe? IsePankur, the Estonian based peer to peer lending network has announced last year that they started to allow anyone within the EU to invest on the platform, however it was still only the Estonians who could actually look for a loan. Recently, however they opened up the platform to Finnish residents.
This means that now anyone in Finland can request a loan using Isepankur.fi and many are doing just that. In the first 9 weeks of operations, IsePankur reported 13 million euro of loan applications in Finland. Combined with Estonia, they are now hitting over €800 000 of issued loans monthly. The month of September, for example, reached €859 500 and IsePankur reports a 20% month to month growth of this figure.
Elisa announced that they have launched Elisa Lompakko in Finland, which is basically an online wallet that you can put money into using a bank transfer. Once you have the money in the account, you can either create virtual credit cards to be used for online payments or put money into your purse which can later be used together with MasterCard Paypass NFC based sticker.
Now, having lived in Estonia, I can go on about the state of the banking industry in Finland for hours. For instance how the paper based passwords without a master password is a security vulnerability. Or how I am used to an e-bank that calculates my expenditure automatically and provides me with a general break-down of what I spend my money on. But perhaps the feature I miss the most are virtual credit cards. They are safe, expendable and you can set the expiration date to be in just a month so as not to get caught into subscription based payments for years to come.
It seems that a lot of companies in our region are setting their sights onto the banking industry. After all, according to Gartner the worldwide mobile payment market will be worth $617 billion with 448 million users by 2016. That is just the mobile part of it. So if you grab just a small piece of this market, you are definitely doing something right. Today, uBank of Russia announced an $8 Million Series A funding round from Runa Capital, helping them to accelerate their growth in the region.
The main concept behind uBank allows to make all sorts of payments and transfers directly from mobile devices or PC's. This includes paying for bills and transferring funds. To source the money, users can attach multiple credit cards of different banks, thus basically uniting them all under one account. There is a 0% commission for topping up the account as uBank monetizes through making partnerships where they charge a commission fee and also by providing banks with a mobile banking solutions for their customers.
The idea of disrupting one of the largest industries in the world has become quite popular in our region. After all, even if you get a minuscule part of the pie, you are a billionaire. So companies such as Holvi, Transferwise and Isepankur are trying to do just that - making a dent in one of the largest, inflexible and controlled industries - Banking. But they are not alone, we have gotten in touch with Victor Lysenko a co-founder and CEO of Rocketbank in Russia.
Before we go into the details of how Rocketbank is aiming to take over the bureaucratic banking world of Russia, it is of interest to note that Lysenko is the former CEO and founder of Darberry in Russia. For those of you who do not know, the controlling stake of Darberry was bought by Groupon just six months after they launched. At that point it was renamed to Groupon Russia.
In the past few years even the biggest and most traditional organizations have taken steps to modernize their services. In the banking business, E-invoicing is here to stay due to the worldwide incentives to get this working. In the For example in Denmark, Tradeshift has seen a lot of traction with their model. The situation in Finland is slightly different due to the numerous operators offering solutions in this area. One of them is Maventa.
We've covered Maventa in the past as well, back in 2010. Back then we called them the rebel e-invoicing provider and it seems the rebels are taking over "the universe".
Scred, a house hold Finnish startup who we have used to seeing tracking debts and shared expenses is now shifting their focus towards more comprehensively managing money.
They start with managing money for different groups such as bands, indie film crews, event organisers and associations. The point is to offer a solution for communities which often don't have good online financial applications and don't know about accounting.
Along with the new focus the guy have also redesigned the site. Kudos to the team for learning the design tools as they went along. As Kristoffer from Scred told me "We ended up learning how to do design ourselves as we couldn't find anyone sufficiently skilled and available to work with our bootstrapped approach". Whether that was a good choice, I left to the user to decide herself.
Scred, a Finnish startup that brands themselves as Banking 2.0, are working on a brand new angle for their service. They are pulling an all-nigther before they head to London to pitch their new service. After an ad hoc discussion in a Jaiku thread they decided to stream their 'last-minute all-night crunch' via Floobs. If you're reading this sometime in the morning, you just missed a hell of a coding session.