Santander InnoVentures leads $39m investment in debt marketplace CrossLend

Santander InnoVentures, Santander Group’s fintech venture fund, is leading a Series B investment of 35 million euros ($39 million) in CrossLend, a pan-European digital debt marketplace.

Oliver Schimek, CEO of CrossLend

Oliver Schimek, CrossLend’s CEO, told Bank Innovation the funding, which was confirmed this week, will support CrossLend’s expansion efforts, building on the 10 markets in which it currently operates. Existing investors Lakestar, ABN AMRO Ventures, and Earlybird, participated in the round.

According to CrossLend, the investment will be directed toward enhancing the platform’s capabilities, including a data technology layer and a settlement layer, which refers to the transaction infrastructure which takes an asset from one balance sheet and transfers it to another.

Crosslend also will need to hire more team members with a banking background to achieve these goals, and the company will be beefing up its in-house legal team, Schimek added. Founded in 2014, the CrossLend marketplace connects originating banks, or banks that would like to offload loans from their balance sheets, with a range of institutional investors that need fixed-income assets.

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“In a nutshell it’s basically one unified infrastructure where banks can trade loans,” Schimek explained. “We have introduced a marketplace-like structure into the institutional banking world, leveraging the resources that are already there, and therefore helping banks to be more profitable.”

From Santander’s perspective, the CrossLend investment advances a broader objective to improve the efficiency of capital markets through technology, thereby enhancing the return on investment for institutions. “Because [CrossLend] has better technology, a number of transactions that maybe in the past were not economical now become profitable,” said Manuel Silva Martinez, partner and head of investments at Santander InnoVentures.

Martinez emphasized that the bank’s model is to partner with companies in which it invests. Accordingly, the bank is working closely with CrossLend on a number of priority areas, including regulatory capital optimization and balance sheet allocation.

“We have a number of resources within the bank — both human resources and budgetary resources — to deploy commercial initiatives with the companies we’ve invested in,” he noted. “The bank would highly benefit from from working with CrossLend and seeing how the technologies it has developed can also be used for our own businesses to transform them and make them more profitable, more efficient and more transparent.”