French bank Groupe BPCE buys digital bank, Fidor

Another large incumbent bank has joined forces with a new digital bank.

Last week, Groupe BPCE, one of France’s five largest banking groups, agreed to purchase German digital bank, Fidor. The result of a 2009 merger between Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Eparange Regional Cooperative Bank, Groupe BCPE provides a suite of financial services ranging from retail to international corporate banking. With the acquisition, Fidor becomes a member of the French cooperative banking group, which features 35 million customers and €1.16 trillion in total assets.

The transaction should come as no surprise to those who follow the French bank. Groupe BPCE presented its intention to launch more digital integrations in its 2014 strategic campaign titled Another Way To Grow. Since then, Groupe BPCE has launched several products catering to emerging fintech trends, like p2p payment app S-money and Howiz, a banking app designed by and catering to 18-24 year olds.

“This operation constitutes a key step in the acceleration of the digital transformation of our group,” said François Pérol, chairman of the Groupe BPCE management board. “It further demonstrates our commitment to innovation, to develop a customer centric approach enabled by a digital banking technology and to be more involved in digital and mobile banking field.”

Founded in 2009 by Mathias Kröner, Fidor caters to people who want a more transparent and user friendly banking experience. With the motto Banking with Friends, Fidor tries to turn managing money into an interactive process for customers. Users have opportunities to crowdsource financial advice from its 350 thousand community members, as well as interact with the bank through social media platforms.

With the agreement, Fidor doubles its equity, giving the digital bank more firepower to grow through technology investments and regional expansion, plus increased stability and sustainability. “In a world of increasing volatility it is important to be member of a strong group,” said Kröner, who remains a shareholder and CEO of Fidor, in a press release. “We are excited to have such a well-established partner as BPCE in the financial world that recognizes the need for a customer-centric and entrepreneurial approach to banking and innovation.”

“Technology is changing banking, and traditional banks are being pressured by disruptive, transparent, digital banks,” said Dr. Chris Martenson, an economic researcher and futurist, and co founder of in correspondence with Tradesteaming. “In the purchase of Fidor, BPCE is trying to keep up with technology and not get left behind by more innovative banks.”

The deal is similar to the 2014 acquisition of Simple by BBVA, the second largest bank in Spain. BBVA also acquired online business banking provider Holvi in 2016.

The Groupe BCPE/Fidor acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2016.

Photo credit: frankh via Visual Hunt / CC BY