After providing banking products to European savers, commodity traders, producers, transport companies and financial institutions for over 25 years, Amsterdam Trade Bank (ATB) pivoted into SME lending under the new brand FIBR. The connected digital bank, FIBR, focuses solely on servicing European SMEs, through combining the stability of a bank with the agility and technology of a fintech.
Initiating a greenfield build for its new digital offering enabled FIBR to start its fintech journey with a clean slate, unburdened by legacy systems and technical debt. Utilising the best of SaaS, FIBR became a platform that is API-first, fully cloud-native and modular-in-design with data-at-the-core.
FIBR’s team has deep entrepreneurial, technology and alternative lending experience; they have co-founded fintechs and scaled ventures such as New10, Revolut, Zopa and Starling. Building on their personal experience, the team has built FIBR from the ground up to ensure it is fit for purpose and has secured a 70 million equity investment.
Headquartered in the Netherlands, FIBR lends to SMEs throughout Europe. FIBR’s new technology platform allows thousands of SMEs access to vital funds by enabling lending through local lenders. FIBR already has seven lenders in the process of onboarding, providing loans to customers across the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Spain, Ireland and the UK.
Accounting for over 99% of Europe’s businesses, SMEs are set to play a crucial role in both economic recovery and job creation post pandemic. Historically this has been an underserved market when it comes to accessing fast and fair finance. Ensuring these businesses are well funded is central to FIBR’s mission and by which FIBR will play its part to enable the economic recovery following the pandemic.
In the near future, the FIBR platform plans to power lenders of all shapes and sizes across Europe, by offering a fully integrated suite of modular components that these lenders can leverage to accelerate their growth, such as payments, loan administration and funding as a service.
FIBR’s CTO, Jaap Boersma, states, “FIBR is turning the page. Our aim is to reshape a traditional merchant bank into a fully digital SME lender and to rapidly scale across Europe. To expedite success we chose a cloud-native approach because it allows for quick set up and fast time to market, key attributes for our pan-European expansion goals.”
The ability to provide Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) is paramount to FIBR’s digital strategy and its first requirement was to set up an entirely new SME lending business. Yet designing, building and running ready-made products for specific use-cases/end-user segments at speed, is a real challenge without the right partners, technology and mindset.
This is especially true for a traditional bank, where changing culture and processes can take years. The most effective way incumbents can do this is to launch their own parallel digital bank on a cloud-native platform, using APIs to link to a dynamic ecosystem of SaaS and fintech partners.
Boersma confirms, “To turbo-drive digital MVPs, we knew we needed a true SaaS partner that could fine-tune our offerings and shrink timescales for development. Six months may be incredibly fast for a traditional bank but in the world of fintech, it’s much too slow. Today’s market needs and customer demands change round the clock, so the ability to respond equally fast is vital to capture new revenue opportunities and remain competitive.”
The team at FIBR set out to find the best solution by assessing and comparing several potential SaaS banking platforms. Following in-depth technical reviews, Mambu’s platform was chosen for its functionality and processes, the maturity of the APIs, its service ready mentality and market expertise.
According to Boersma who drove the selection process, “On paper, all providers appear similar, it’s only when you start to dig deep that the differences become clear. Mambu’s proof of concept was a great eye-opener and our hackathons revealed its key strength - the composable approach, which serves up core banking in a very simple, fast and flexible way. In this respect, Mambu’s mature APIs and proven SaaS model is unparalleled.”
It wasn’t the technology alone that set Mambu apart, “The way they approached the relationship, their communication and commitment, ability to demonstrate use cases and relevant first-hand experience in our key markets, all helped to instil trust and win over senior decision-makers,” explains the CTO. “It’s a true strategic partnership as a result of which we are working closely together with other ecosystem vendors, such as Comply Advantage and Form3, transforming our business digitally from the bottom up.”
Within two months of selecting Mambu, FIBR, a trade name of Amsterdam Trade Bank N.V., had launched in the UK, through its partner FIBR Tech Ltd.. In its pre-launch phase, FIBR has lent over EUR 20 million of loans to over 175 SMEs in the UK and Netherlands enabling them to fund their growth. The digitally-enabled proposition consisted of a set of brand new products built on Mambu’s composable architecture and specifically designed for the UK SMEs.
“We wanted to move the needle fast and make things happen to establish FIBR as a new connected digital bank. With Mambu that’s exactly what we did,” says Boersma. “It took us two quarters to go live with the first MVP. We began dry-testing the platform immediately and it was clear that Mambu added lots of value at each stage, delivering a smooth journey from sign-up to the MVP launch.”
Following a successful rollout and a strategic shift, in Q2 2021 FIBR began implementing Mambu to underpin its entire digital transformation. The ultimate goal is to migrate all the bank’s target business, including retail savings and deposits, to its new digital platform. The bank is pushing towards its goal of becoming Europe's leading SME lender that offers differentiated services that are faster, simpler, and more accessible.
Mark Schröder, CCO at FIBR, sums up, “With the support of Mambu and its ecosystem, FIBR is on a path to become a pan-European SME lender. The partner ecosystem enables us to design and execute a holistic model to support compliance, transparent onboarding and digital lending products. This in turn enables us to focus on the customer and innovation.”