Volksbank Bielefeld-Gütersloh is expanding its successful cooperations with Fintechs from the German start-up scene. The cooperative bank is now the first regional institute to cooperate with the Berlin company Penta. The customers of the digital platform for business banking are primarily small and medium-sized enterprises, some of them from the East Westphalia-Lippe region. The aim of the cooperation is to provide them with urgently needed liquidity support during the Corona crisis.
Volksbank Bielefeld-Gütersloh gained access to Penta via the new cooperative venture capital fund "VR Ventures", which the local bank helped to set up at the beginning of the year and which is managed by Berliner Volksbank. The investment focus is on start-ups in the financial sector and the real estate industry as well as related digital solutions for small and medium-sized companies. “VR Ventures" participated with two million Euros in the latest financing round initiated by Penta to support further growth of the company, which was founded at the end of 2017. In March 2020 alone, the start-up gained 1,400 new customers, and a total of around 20,000 companies are using Penta's service.
Ulrich Scheppan, member of the Managing Board of Volksbank Bielefeld-Gütersloh, is particularly pleased that the financial contribution has turned into a close collaboration in a very short time: "We are the first regional bank ever to cooperate with Penta. This shows that we are recognised as financial experts not only in the traditional SME sector, but also among Fintech start-ups".
Volksbank Bielefeld-Gütersloh intends to contribute its regional expertise to the cooperation. It is planned, for example, to apply for liquidity assistance from the Corona Special Programme to the state development bank KfW for Penta customers from Bielefeld and the Gütersloh district. The house bank principle will apply. So far, fintechs have hardly played any role in the distribution of the funds, as they are not accredited by KfW as partners to be allowed to distribute these funds. "Thanks to the cooperation with Penta, we can also quickly help companies from the region that are not Volksbank customers. In this difficult phase, we are providing the domestic economy with reliable support and full commitment," said Ulrich Scheppan. In the future, further options for collaboration are conceivable, for example around the automation of personal data checks as well as business data of new customers, the KYC process (Know Your Customer) for short.
Marko Wenthin, CEO Penta: "We are pleased to have Volksbank Bielefeld-Gütersloh as a strong cooperation partner on our side. This partnership will enable us to provide at least our corporate customers based in Ostwestfalen-Lippe with quick and easy access to state liquidity support via Volksbank. I also see it as a good pilot project that others could quickly follow.”
Penta is the digital platform for business banking. Companies can apply for a business account within minutes and receive a German IBAN, debit cards for expense management and other financial services. The company is headquartered in Berlin, with offices in Milan and Belgrade. The management consists of Marko Wenthin, Jessica Holzbach, Luka Ivicevic, Lukas Zörner, Henrik Jondell and Igor Kuschnir.
With total assets of EUR 4.63 billion and more than 750 employees, Volksbank Bielefeld-Gütersloh is one of the major Volksbanks in Germany and promotes innovative companies: Even part of the regional SME sector, the cooperative bank is successfully involved as a strong partner of the East Westphalian start-up scene in the domestic start-up networks. Last year, the corporate customer advisors supported start-ups with a volume of almost 10 million euros. Through its participation in a venture capital fund, Volksbank continues to invest in the future of the banking business.