Holvi Adds Long-Promised Business MasterCard — But Where’s BBVA?

holvi_feedFinnish banking service Holvi announced in March it was joining the Spanish megabank BBVA, which also acquired Simple, but its digital presence makes no mention of it.

Nor was BBVA mentioned in the announcement of Holvi’s long-awaited MasterCard for businesses. The card, which will become available April 26, was first discussed about a year ago, when Holvi made a deal with MasterCard. this was before BBVA had officially entered the picture.

Holvi describes itself as a bank for “makers and doers” and was founded on the idea that consumers and small businesses were not so different in their financial needs. The Holvi account, therefore, contained features friendly to businesses and groups — budgeting, accounting, billing, and so on. Such a hybrid does not yet exist in the United States — Square perhaps comes nearest.

One of Holvi’s founders, Kristoffer Lawson, has gone on to start a company called Solu, which is a re-envisioning of the personal computer, based on the prevailing forces in computing (and everything else): mobile, social, cloud, and big data. Here’s how Lawson described Holvi in 2014:

[We] decided the only way to really get at where our ambitions had always lay was to essentially become a very new type of bank. That is the point where money comes in, money is stored, and money goes out. That’s the point where you can build the transaction machine for a future generation. An engaging, human-focused platform. One that would enable new activities.

This was how Holvi was born, and we followed by working day in, day out, to create this next generation of financial service. More importantly it was also born to solve our own problems, and the problems we perceived around us. Essentially, Holvi was formed as a banking service for creating and doing, and one where we early on decided to recruit for and invest heavily into the user experience.

BBVA recognized Holvi’s vision when the acquisition was announced in March, and comparisons to Simple, an earlier BBVA acquisition, were inevitable. Both Simple and Holvi will operate independently of the bank, and indeed Simple’s site mentioned The Bancorp more prominently than it does BBVA.

But one area Holvi was lacking was a connection to wider networks. When Lawson left Holvi in Feb. 2014, it was reportedly over the partnerships Holvi would (or would not) form, when growing outside Finland. The MasterCard partnership is a good example of that.

A year in the making, the Holvi MasterCard will be a prepaid card linked to a Holvi account and controlled via mobile or online. Holvi accounts are structured around “feeds” — essentially, the flow of transaction. MasterCard transactions will flow into this feed. The daily transaction limit is €4000.

That seems clear, but what isn’t clear is why there is no mention of BBVA. It would seem to indicate the deal is not yet final. We have reached out to BBVA for confirmation and will update this post if appropriate. UPDATE: BBVA contacted us to let us know the deal is closed.

Holvi was founded in 2011, had about $4 million in funding at the time of its acquisition, and currently operates in Finland, Germany, and Austria.

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