They want a 100% Tech bank to solve all entrepreneurs’ worries
Creating a bank focused on Tech is the ambitious project of Taro Ugen, a former Bpifrance member of the Private Banking Union, and Stéphane Bagnier, an entrepreneur, former engineer in the Ministry of the Interior. By working together, they discovered one thing in common: the two men respectively have a parent who had attempted an entrepreneurial adventure and who, despite the need for funding, was abandoned by the banks. To remedy this problem, the two partners decided to create their own bank serving entrepreneurs.
Currently, the online banking project, called FF (Friends & Family), is still in its foundations. Taro Ugen shares at Frenchweb its main lines: bank accounts, tailor-made services, and cross-border with other banks in Europe.
Frenchweb : How does your project differ from traditional banking institutions?
Taro Ugen, co-founder of the FF (Friends & Family): There are traditional institutions, like BNP Paribas in France, and in the world of FinTech, banks like Number26. We launched this project because what is being done by the new banking players is not optimal. We have a different conception. Today, it is not possible to provide an acceptable level of service to customers without being specialized in a very specific vertical. It’s a reality. Based on this observation, we chose our vertical: that of Tech.
The banking industry is innovating today by trying to put some “cool features”. At the end of the day, they’re just updates. Traditional banks have grown very large and are struggling to manage their technological debt. For us, the main thing is therefore to incorporate many more services than traditional banks. Few banks have a service-oriented business model.
Today, banks are subsidizing bank accounts where they lose money. They sell products, instead of solving box problems. For our part, we focused on bank accounts. Technology will help us to make this project viable. At the same time, the “neobanks” (the pure-player ndlr) have not understood that if the customer does not find the services of traditional banks, he will eventually return to a “normal” establishment. It will go back to the classic system.
How will you go about simplifying the banking procedures with your project?
T. U: Our first priority is service. We will be specialized on Tech entrepreneurs in order to help them on a wide variety of issues: taxes, internationalization, cost of recruitment, etc. On the supply side, we are going to set up a partnership platform; a kind of marketplace for entrepreneurs allowing in particular to manage credit and cash management.
We wish we could build anything on our bank account. The current situation does not allow such freedom. When start-ups start to expand, they find it very difficult to get by with often complex banking procedures. To offer them an alternative, we are not going to take the risk of getting lost in a disproportionate market. For this reason, we are really targeting Europe. Today, a bank in France does not have a subsidiary in another European country most of the time. Faced with a banking sector that remains complicated, we believe we can provide a solution to this recurring problem.
We know we will have to be patient, we are only at the very beginning of the story. Currently, we are discussing with banking institutions and we take into account the comments of our future users. We spoke to them right away because it’s the best way to design something that people really want. We will evolve based on what the community tells us. This is a subject (Editor’s note: the banking sector) that tires a lot more people than we imagined.
What are your objectives in relation to the FinTech market?
T. U: I have a little trouble seeing myself as a FinTech. However, I note that banking is not an innovative market. This sector needs to renew itself. For our part, we believe that we can bring something new to the Tech vertical.