A power engine for the FinTech ecosystem – SolarisBank

With the spectacular backdrop of Berlin Dom outside Solarisbank’s rooftop terrace, we had our interview on a fresh morning with A-T Schneider, Head of Business Development and Baha Jamous, VP Marketing and Communications.

Where does the name “Solarisbank” come from?

[Baha] The name Solarisbank originated from the notion of an empowering force that enables other players in the FinTech ecosystem to thrive. As Europe’s leading Banking-as-a-Service platform, Solarisbank enables different players to offer their own financial services through an API integration. As a technology company with a full German banking license, Solarisbank has always had technology at its heart.

What are the product offerings of Solarisbank, and who are Solarisbank‘s targeted clients? 

[A-T]  Solarisbank is about contextual banking, and we are here to enable our partners to serve their clients better by integrated banking services directly into the context of use. One good example is our partnership with CarNext.com, a marketplace for customers to buy or lease used cars. In the past, when a customer needed a car loan, the process had to be conducted offline and was typically very time-consuming. By integrating Solarisbank’s lending API into their customer-facing front end, CarNext.com was able to seamlessly embed the loan process into the purchase customer journey, reducing the time to finance the car to as little as 10 . As a licensed bank, Solarisbank is authorized to issue loans, and can assess the counterparty risks together with the partner.

The other areas include customer identification, for example, the KYC process for onboarding of new banking customers. In terms of payment services integration, Solarisbank is the payment aggregation partner for example for TradeRepublic. We also have coverage on blockchain and digital assets such as custodial and storage service of private keys and cryptocurrencies.

There are also examples where we innovate beyond the traditional lending products. We have recently launched a new product with American Express which is called “Splitpay”. This product allows customers to pay off card payments in instalments, either right at point of sale or retrospecitively. Imagine a scenario where a customer’s washing machine broke down right after they spent a lot of money on a new car and need more financial flexibility. Using Splitpay, the customer who is an American Express cardholder can then convert the payment into instalment loans retrospectively. Solarisbank provides the loans as well as the technical stack for the new product. American Express integrates the front-end interface into Splitpay seamless via API. Cardholders could sign up for the credit agreement entirely online, taking away all the manual processes.

[Baha] We are proud that this is probably the first customer lending product for American Express cardholders in Germany. The COVID crisis has urged society to be ready to be cashless. We are happy to tackle the situation by creating product innovation together with our partners.

Another use case example of the Solarisbank solution is our partnership with Vivid Money, which is a digital platform for customers to spend, save, and invest with multi-currency accounts. Solarisbank provides the technical backbone of the solution with full banking regulation compliance to make sure our partner could set their foot easily in the market. We comply with regulations and identification requirements so that we could provide the entire range of products ranging from the bank account and card issuing all the way to the compliant video-identification of new customers.

[A-T] With our B2B2X model we enable a vast range of players ranging from fintech startups to corporate giants and even other banks to to build market-leading products. Solarisbank is unique as a technology company with a banking license.  

What is unique about the partnership with Solarisbank?

[A-T] We enable rapid time-to-market when launching products with our partners. As a platform with a neutral approach towards the end customer, we have strong technical adaptability without any preference for the market that our partner would want to grow into. The partnership is always established with the a shared digital mindset and aligned interests and goals, which boosts strong collaboration and fast speed of implementation.

How fast can a new product be launched?

[A-T] Recently we enabled Vivid Money to launch in Germany and build a new challenger bank from scratch. It was a complex project, but we managed to have the service up to running in less than 6 months!

In the implementation with American Express, the team also achieved the product launch in less than 5 months.

The same principle goes to initial partner onboarding. The fastest partner onboarding took about 11 days, which is quite amazing. That included our partner and us assessing the technical readiness, compliance approvals, selecting modules to use, all the way until implementation. I believe that once you have a strong business case, the right digital mindset and technical capacity, the collaboration can be very smooth and fast.

There are also several use cases for traditional banks. Solarisbank can improve the bank’s current manual processes. A prime example is our Business KYC solution, which several Volksbanken are using to digitally identify their business customers.

Key takeaways

  • Banking-as-a-service platform enables all types of company to transform into a FinTech with the right combination of business processes and digital banking infrastructure
  • Traditional business model needs to rethink the role of technology in simplifying the end-to-end customer journey and providing a better customer experience
  • Speed of negotiation and implementation could be extremely fast when the client sees the partnership as key to their business and brings the right experts and stakeholders into the project

Authors – Team Circuit Connector

Tingting Guo

Passionate about FinTech topics with 5+ years of experiences in banking technology and FinTech business development

A marathoner and coffee lover

Christian Wirawan

Hailing from Indonesia, Christian is an INSEAD MBA candidate with 5+ years of experiences in tech, start-up, and management consulting. He’s a passionate supporter of diversity & inclusion, and he loves learning, gaming, and reading. You’ll probably spot him in the wild at a coffee shop with a cup of joe in one hand, and either a laptop or book in the other. To connect with him, check his LinkedIn or his personal website!

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