Banking Giant Banco Santander Snaps Up Control of Fintech Ebury To Focus on the Small Guys

November 7, 2019 | FinTech, Investments, News
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Traditional bank Santander paid £350 million for 50.1% of payments fintech Ebury.

Banco Santander’s focus on small businesses as new clientele led it to buy a controlling interest in Ebury. The bank is planning to build a new trade platform for businesses. London-based Ebury is a startup fintech that provides a gamut of corporate services to small-to-medium sized international companies. These services include cash management, foreign exchange, and trade finance.

“Ebury and [Santander’s] Global Trade Services aims to connect the medium and small companies that are not getting that attention from anybody else,” said Ana Botín.  Ms. Botin is Santander’s executive chairman.

Santander, which is Spain’s largest bank, is taking a different path than bigger rivals such as Citibank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered. The latter tend to look for the business of large corporate customers.

If you can’t beat them, buy them?

Meanwhile, there has been a long-running rivalry between banking incumbents and upstart, disruptive fintechs. The transaction is an example of a traditional bank taking a quick-fix approach to acquire technology and customers.

“Combining a big bank with nimble fintech means we can offer our clients the best of both worlds,” said Juan Lobato and Salvador García, Ebury founders. They refer to the benefits of Ebury’s technological expertise and high-quality service, on the one hand, and Santander’s global reputation.

Funded in 2009, Ebury operates in 19 countries. It further reported revenues of £43.7 million during the year ended April 2018. However, it suffered a pre-tax loss of £19.1 million.

“By partnering with Ebury, Santander will deliver faster and more efficient products and services for SMEs, previously only accessible to larger corporates,” said Ms Botin.

Finally, Santander expects to earn a return in 2024 of more than 25% on its Ebury investment.

[Related Story: JPMorgan Chase May Buy Stake in UK FinTech 10x Future Technologies ]

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