BBVA announced an increase in its financial technology (FinTech) fund to $250M and a partnership with Propel Venture Partners (Propel). BBVA will invest its $250M in Propel’s funds as a limited partner, and Propel will manage the investment independently in a move designed to ensure that the capital continues to be invested in the best digital financial services startups.
Propel will use the $250 million – which includes the original $100 million which established the BBVA Ventures fund in 2013 – in a US and a European fund. Propel will also open an office in London in addition to its San Francisco headquarters, where its European fund will invest in the UK’s FinTech ecosystem and in European opportunities.
Teppo Paavola, BBVA’s Chief Development Officer and General Manager of New Digital Business said, ‘‘In an increasingly competitive FinTech venture capital environment, we believe that our increased capital, Propel’s independence and a presence in London can enable us to invest in the best FinTech startups and better support BBVA’s vision of using technology to change financial services for the benefit of the customer.’’
Propel’s funds will focus on early to late-stage investment opportunities at the intersection of technology and finance. Areas of focus include payments, credit, insurance, wealth management, e-commerce, security and compliance.
Propel’s managing partners are Jay Reinemann, Tom Whiteaker and Ryan Gilbert. Reinemann and Whiteaker were previously managing the BBVA Ventures fund, and Gilbert has been actively involved in several global financial services startups as a founder, investor and independent board member. Propel is currently recruiting for its London office.
Reinemann said, “Propel believes that the future of financial services will be realized by rethinking and rebuilding, not merely disrupting. We look forward to partnering with energetic entrepreneurs for the long term, driving ideas forward together, backed by BBVA and its commitment to support digital change in financial services.”
Propel will now manage BBVA Ventures investments, which include digital lender Prosper, wealth management advisor Personal Capital and Taulia, an online cashflow management tool for corporate purchasers and suppliers.
In addition to investing in Propel, BBVA has also made direct investments in financial technology companies to support their development and as part of its digital transformation program. In 2014, the bank purchased Simple, a tech company that’s changing the way people bank and think about money and recently took a 29.5% strategic partner stake in Atom, the UK’s first mobile-only bank.