Crowdfunding, online auctions for invoices and data combined with artificial intelligence
The 2020 year was quite far from what most of us expected it to be. The Covid-19 crisis has unexpectedly affected the whole world – the world seemed to stop for a while. A huge impact could be observed especially on the state economies and running of the business sphere. Many companies have been forced to cut back on their operations, to become present in the online world, to a greater or lesser extent, and still find a way how to keep operating. It was simply necessary to handle several challenges at once. Where some companies have literarily burned their fingers, others have succeeded. Anyhow, a whole new world of challenges has opened up for all of them, while by gradually fulfilling them they could have come out of the crisis even stronger. We dare to say that Komerční banka (Czech Republic) belongs to the second group.
Smart solutions as a way to fulfill the vision of the bank of the future
Komerční banka’s vision is to intensively move the products and services offered to clients into digital form so that they are as convenient and simple as possible. A part of this vision is the goal of becoming a market leader in cooperation with innovative fintechs and start-ups, and to be a partner that these companies can turn to with confidence, whatever form of cooperation. With this intention in mind a subsidiary of Komerční banka, named KB SmartSolutions, was established at the beginning of 2019. KB SMartSolutions focuses on cooperation with fintechs and start-ups that have courageous goals and the “smart solutions”. With its help, Komerční banka makes investments into modern technologies in the area of financial services and thus significantly contributes to the transformation of a traditional banking institution into an innovative and technologically strong bank of a new generation. “Because to build the banking of the future, we need to learn much more and work better with fintechs and start-ups. Fintechs are not our competitors, but in most cases, our natural allies, “explains Patrik Nový, Director of KB SmartSolutions.
During the first year, KB SmartSolutions strived to profile and differentiate towards various seed starters, accelerators, and venture capital funds, simply make itself known and launch its brand on the market. But right from the beginning, two areas of focus were clear – crowdfunding and operational financing. So the search for suitable partners began and then negotiations on what the cooperation itself might look like took place. The corporation as such, and especially the bank as a regulated business, naturally has a considerable aversion to risk, as it wants to offer the client the best and also safe solution. Young start-ups, on the other hand, take a risk every day. Although the bank’s partnership with fintech is not always easy to implement, as both have different DNA and language, it is undoubtedly mutually beneficial. This is one of the reasons why negotiations on some partnerships lasted even several months.
We know how to cooperate with a well-established company, so as with smaller start-up
Although the autumn of 2020 was marked by the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemy, members of the KB SmartSolutions team, in cooperation with the tribes of Komerční banka, worked intensively on further property inputs. The first of these was the ownership entry into the successful Czech company Roger at the beginning of October 2020. Roger focuses on operational financing, online auctions of invoices, and factoring. Clients of Komerční banka, especially from the segment of small and medium-sized enterprises, can already use Roger’s solution relieving them of worries with long invoice maturities and having a chance to focus their business. The plan for the near future includes joint strategic development of other products and services in partnership with Roger and Komerční banka.
So far, the last equity entry of Komerční banka has been the entry into the company Lemonero, which was established in 2019, and has already proved that their model works and they have a lot to offer. Thanks to its digital platform using data and artificial intelligence, Lemonero can handle an e-shop loan within 24 hours. All this completely online, including signing the contract and managing the loan. And that is enough firepower to conquer not only the Czech Republic but also Europe.
The entire amount invested by Komerční banka goes straight to the development and further growth of this fintech, and the cooperation itself will take place on several levels. Lemonero transforms other financial resources directly into loans for e-shops and thus multiplies their volume from lower tens of millions to one hundred million crowns, with the assumption that in the horizon of three to four years, units of billions of crowns should flow through the service. There is no lingering by Lemonero as it already works hard to prepare foreign expansion. Next year Lemonero wants to enter the Slovak and Polish markets.
Hats off to Komerční banka! And what’s next?
Thanks to its drive and smart maneuvers, and of course also thanks to KB SmartSolutions, Komerční banka is currently by right considered the market leader in cooperation with dynamic and rapidly developing start-ups and is ahead of its competitors. None of the local banks has got that far. But the story does not end here.
“It is true that “now” we will focus on making the individual partnerships commercially successful,” said Patrik Nový from KB SmartSolutions. “However, that does not mean that we do not have other areas and acquisitions in mind. In the future, we would like to add an investment into retail fintech, “he adds.
It is important to say that the reason for the whole effort of finding common interest and way of cooperation between Komerční banka and start-ups is directed towards a single goal and that is the well-being of our clients. We are not only talking about existing clients whose loyalty we immensely value, but also about potential clients – for example, from the rank of the new generation. We can simply say that we are trying to create a new pleasant product or service – one that will satisfy their needs and which no one on the market has yet offered. That is why we want to thank all the people from the tribes of Komerční banka, the members of the KB SmartSolutions team, and, of course, the companies Upvest, Roger, and Lemonero for their trust. Thank you very much for it and we are happy to embark on a journey with you for further joint successes.