The Finland-based web “bank” Holvi, which recently gained a license to operate across Europe, is testing an application programming interface (API) that will make it possible to integrate with other services such as Dropbox and Mailchimp.
I last covered Holvi a couple years back, when it was preparing for its European rollout. The startup offers a comprehensive package of team-friendly services including web stores, payments, invoicing, budgeting and so on, and is touting for business among makers, freelancers and small businesses. As accounts can be set up quite quickly, it’s also good for projects (the Slush Festival has long used Holvi.)
Holvi CTO Tuomas Toivonen gave me an example of the kinds of integration users can expect: A fashion blogger may put a Holvi widget into the blog so she can sell merchandise online. When she does so, she will receive both the money and information about the transaction – who bought, what they bought – and will then be able to automatically add the purchaser to her Mailchimp list for further marketing. A copy of the resulting receipt could then go straight into her Dropbox account.
A Finnish crowdfunding platform called Mesenaatti.me has already been built on top of Holvi, taking advantage of its transparency option – in a very Finnish spirit of openness, Holvi accounts can be used to demonstrate to contributors exactly where their funds are going. Holvi CEO Johan Lorenzen hopes the service will serve as a platform for many more businesses, and the firm is working on adding new modules for things like peer-to-peer loans.
Before May this year, Holvi was only available in Finland, but now that it has its pan-European license it is taking on early customers in 19 other countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
It is a licensed payment institution in its own right — this is why Holvi took so long to roll out across Europe — rather than acting as a user interface for others’ banking services (like Simple, bought in February by Spanish bank BBVA.) “We purchase wholesale the low level payment execution from e.g. Nordea and Wirecard, but we’re not tied to any of the 5+ banks that we leverage as service providers,” Toivonen said.
That said, Holvi is not technically a bank — it cannot take deposits then lend that money onwards. “We keep 100 percent of client money segregated from our balance sheet,” Toivonen told me.
This article was updated at 3.30am PT to correct the impression that Holvi is technically a bank — this is a specific term that requires a different license and, even though Holvi fulfils much of the same functionality for its users, it doesn’t have this license.