Memo Bank becomes first independent bank launched in France, closes $23 million funding round
French startup Memo Bank has become the first independent bank to emerge in France in half a century and the new bank, founded and financed by entrepreneurs with additional backing from institutional investors, aims to support the growth and digital transformation of French and European small and medium-sized enterprises.
Memo Bank has been authorized by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the French banking authorities (ACPR) to launch their banking services. The fact that Memo Bank has been granted a full banking license is a testament to the soundness of Memo Bank’s structure and the relevance of its innovative approach. Memo Bank is focusing specifically on the needs of SMEs by placing a strong emphasis on the banking relationship and underpinning its offer with proprietary technology. Operating under its own banking license will allow Memo Bank to offer payment, deposit, and financing solutions directly to its future SME clients.
In conjunction with this important milestone, Memo Bank has also closed its latest $23 million funding round with institutional investors who share the bank’s long-term vision: BlackFin Capital Partners, created by the founders of the online brokerage firm Fortuneo; Daphni, who lead the company’s previous funding round; as well as Bpifrance Investissement, the French national investment bank. Other investors include Founders Future, the venture studio created by Marc Ménasé, and a host of other experienced entrepreneurs, many of whom participated in Memo Bank’s initial funding round as well. All 2 have the same objective: supporting growing companies.
The company, formerly known as Margo, is also taking this opportunity to unveil new branding and to affirm its European ambition under its new name, Memo Bank. While new independent actors in the banking sector have emerged in several European countries, no such newcomers have broken into the market in France since 1970. This is the first time in over half a century that a new independent bank has been granted a full banking license in France.
Jean-Daniel Guyot, Chairman of Memo Bank’s Management Board noted: “An arrival on the banking scene like Memo Bank’s is unheard-of, especially when you take into account that the company was built from the ground up from the regulatory aspects to the operational and technical elements with the clear intention of future proofing its ability to adapt to SMEs ever-changing needs.''
Given that French enterprises rank 11th in Europe when it comes to digitalization, 4 Memo Bank decided to center its offer around providing expertise and financial support to growing SMEs as they undergo their digital transformation. Three key concepts drive the offer: the speed of granting loans; the clarity of pricing; and the relevance of tools and advice.
“As evidenced by the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis, banks are the partners SMEs turn to first. This unprecedented situation serves to reaffirm our long-held conviction that we must build on and deepen this existing relationship in order to support companies in their digitization while also providing straight-forward, modern, paperless banking services,” emphasizes Jean-Daniel Guyot.
To meet its goals, Memo Bank made two defining choices that shaped the company: to develop the technical infrastructure in-house and to recruit a team of highly experienced bankers. Building a Core Banking System from scratch is another big first. This state-of-the-art infrastructure enables end-to-end protection of the data entrusted to Memo Bank by its clients. It also ensures the integrity of this data by recording it centrally in a manner that does not permit duplication and modification. It also allows for real-time processing and provides reinforced reliability. Above all, it is designed to adapt as clients’ needs inevitably evolve.
Jean-Daniel Guyot, Michel Galibert, and Tristan Pontet founded Memo Bank in April 2017. Previously, they worked together to develop Captain Train, a company founded by Jean-Daniel Guyot in 2009. Michel Galibert and Tristan Pontet served as CPO and CFO respectively. In April 2016, after becoming the number one independent seller of train tickets in Europe, Captain Train was acquired by Trainline. Trainline went on to be listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2019.
Memo Bank is advised by a supervisory board filled with experienced banking and investment professionals and can count on the expertise of Jacques Veyrat, president of Impala; Gilles Denoyel, former deputy CEO of HSBC France; Paul Mizrahi, co-founder of Fortuneo and BlackFin Capital Partners; and Ronan Le Moal, former CEO of Arkéa.
Ronan Le Moal, president of Memo Bank’s supervisory board said: “Even though going 100% digital is the current trend, I was easily won over by Memo Bank’s approach. The idea of putting human interaction back at the center of the banking relationship to better serve SMEs is perfectly aligned with my vision of a bank.''
Beginning this fall, Memo Bank will grant early access to select clients. The offer will then be extended to companies in Île de France and the greater Lyon area before being rolled out across the rest of France.
In terms of credit offerings, Memo Bank has developed a fast and fully online application process. Competitive rates will be available to finance both tangible and intangible assets. The required guarantees will be reasonable, taking into account the nature of each project and business. For day-to-day banking needs, Memo Bank will propose a current account with straight-forward pricing and intuitive desktop and mobile interfaces.