BANCO BNI Europa is eyeing up further deals in the alternative finance space to diversify its portfolio and widen its product offering for clients.
The Portuguese online bank has announced several funding deals over the past year, including peer-to-peer lenders Funding Circle in Germany and Raize in Portugal, and UK P2P invoice finance platform MarketInvoice.
The bank, which was launched in September 2015, has grown by acquiring a portfolio of credit assets in marketplace lenders across Europe. It has also launched its own range of niche products, such as a digital consumer credit platform that enables clients to get cash in less than 24 hours.
Pedro Coelho, executive chairman of BNI Europa, said the bank was a pioneer in investing in marketplace lending platforms with a track record.
“We looked at investing in a range of types of lending to ensure we were diversified geographically and by product type,” he told Peer2Peer Finance News. “We’ve built an expertise that you would typically find in an asset management firm.”
Coelho said the credit markets are more appealing than capital markets because there is less volatility in the former.
“As a whole I believe the P2P lending market in Continental Europe is evolving, although it is still one step behind the UK,” he added. “There is a market for P2P players to grow because there are segments of the population that are not serviced by banks.”
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As well as increasing its credit investment, BNI Europa is looking at forming closer partnerships with some lenders in order to broaden its offering to clients.
Last year, the bank entered a deal with Belgian marketplace lender Edebex, a platform that enables companies to sell their term invoices. As a result of the deal, Edebex is now available in the Portuguese market.
Coelho said the Edebex deal showcases the bank’s open architecture philosophy: “We select partners from different sub-segments that will enable our clients to have best-in-class products provided to them.”
He added that the bank could use a similar approach when partnering with other fintech companies, including P2P lenders, in the future.
“We want to continue fostering partnerships to enlarge our product offering and differentiate from the banks,” he said.