Progetto Banca Idea (PPI), an Italian challenger set up by two banking veterans, has landed €45 million in a funding round, BeBeez reports.
CEO Federico Sforza
According ilgiornaleditalia.it, this is the largest first round of funding ever landed by an Italian fintech start-up.
Backers include Generali Group, Sella Group, IFIS Group, and ISA, among others.
The fintech was co-founded by former Unicredit executives, Roberto Nicastro, and Federico Sforza.
The creators say the name is temporary and will be changed shortly.
Set to target small businesses, the new bank has bought Fide Spa, a salary-backed loan business.
The hope is that this acquisition will help the start-up secure a full banking licence.
Despite “the difficult period”, CEO Sforza says the start-up will be operational in the Autumn. It will offer a suite of credit solutions for “small and micro businesses”.
It aims to become Italy’s first digital bank “totally dedicated to small businesses”. Sforza calls them “an essential sector of the Italian economy”, particularly in light of the coronavirus.
“We want to be ready within the year to make our contribution to the recovery and productivity growth of the country.”
The start-up intends to use a mixture of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, open banking and the other opportunities of the Second Payments Directive (PSD2).
With Sforza as CEO, Nicastro will act as the start-up’s non-operating chairman.
A team of ten so far, PBI also houses execs from Societè Generale, American Express, Barclays, Deloitte, and Oliver Wyman.
Nicastro is the major shareholder in PBI with a 37.6% stake, whilst Sforza holds a 36.8% stake. Prior to its funding round, the company started with an initial capital of €50,000.
The start-up intends to market its offering to small businesses with the backing of such heavyweight, experienced industry professionals.