In 2015 Anders la Cour and Laust Bertelsen identified a way to address time and cost challenges of B2B cross border payments. In 2016, Banking Circle was launched as a global transactions services provider to provide access to faster, cheaper payments locally and internationally. The business was, at that point, known as Saxo Payments, as the start-up was supported by Danish giant, Saxo Bank.
Today, just five years on, Banking Circle is a fully licensed bank able to deliver financial infrastructure at low cost with world-class compliance and security. Clients include Banks and Payments businesses, and it processes more than 2 million transactions each month, totalling more than EUR 130 billion in transactions value a year.
Acquired by investment firm EQT in September 2018, Banking Circle accelerated its growth in current and new geographies, with access to both operational and financial resources to drive innovation and investments in technology development and talent acquisition. Banking Circle has also been able to leverage the entire EQT platform, including deep TMT sector expertise, local presence and EQT’s global network of Industrial Advisors.
Securing a banking licence was always the long-term aim for Banking Circle, but the company did not sit back and wait. Instead, it used the intervening years to uncover the payment pain points experienced by businesses, the obstacles holding back Banks and Payments businesses from offering simpler, faster, more affordable and accessible solutions. Banking Circle then used this first-hand knowledge to build a suite of solutions that deliver true value to financial institutions and the businesses they serve.
Securing a banking licence was also a vital step in the mission to tackle the financial exclusion that exists globally, by opening access to banking services regardless of borders. Banking Circle can now extend the range of services for financial services providers, as well as extend the geographies in which the bank can operate.
The problem behind the evolution
Businesses of all sizes, but especially the smaller, younger firms, can be held back from meeting their full potential by difficulties with payments and cashflow. This area of business is hugely influential but is often low on the list of priorities and left out of business planning, an issue that can be challenging to resolve further down the line.
SMEs traditionally manage payments through banks where legacy systems cause inflexibility, meaning banks struggle to provide the best business solutions.
Payments can be slow and expensive, especially across borders. In addition, many banks are pulling back from correspondent banking because of risk and compliance concerns, and, post-recession, traditional banks are nervous of lending to smaller businesses. New firms are finding themselves unable to compete effectively, and limiting their potential.
Banking Circle has built solutions to help businesses of all sizes to compete and prosper. The suite of innovative Banking Circle solutions is increasing financial inclusion by providing previously excluded businesses with access to essential lending, bank accounts and payments, backed up by risk hedging and worldclass compliance.
Now, having been granted its banking licence, Banking Circle can deliver game-changing solutions to Payments businesses and Banks. Free of legacy systems, it can deliver financial infrastructure at low cost with world-class compliance and security, as well as providing access to real-time payments regardless of borders and size of operator.
New banking – with the customer at heart
Banking Circle was launched to help businesses transact more efficiently – facilitating international trade by providing fast and affordable payment solutions for businesses previously unable to expand internationally due to the high cost of cross border payments.
The new bank continues in this aim by giving Banks and Payments businesses the unique ability to offer their merchants the facility to pay suppliers and partners directly from a web interface delivered by them, in their name, without the need to invest in inhouse infrastructure. This is done without any loss of time or cash, empowering global trade for even the smallest business.
Banking Circle regularly conducts extensive research amongst existing customers and the wider industry, to obtain a unique and thorough insight into pain points experienced by various market segments. This has allowed the bank to build innovative solutions wholly centred around the needs of the industry and gaps in existing provision – rather than
adapting existing solutions and trying to make them work for other target customers.
The future of banking
Banking Circle has made a name for itself over the last four years as a ground-breaking financial utility. However, it has since evolved to form a new category of bank, and securing its Banking Licence from the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) in Luxembourg will significantly elevate Banking Circle’s role in the digital financial economy.
Now a financial infrastructure for Payments business and Banks, Banking Circle is giving financial institutions access to real-time payments regardless of borders and regardless of the size of the business or transaction. Payments businesses and Banks working with Banking Circle can seize market opportunities in the new economy without having to commit to significant investment in their own internal infrastructure.
Banking Circle bank branches are already open in the UK, Germany and Denmark and marking this significant step, Banking Circle officially opened its headquarters in Luxembourg on 27th February 2020, attended by Mr Pierre Gramegna, Luxembourg Minister of Finance.
Luxembourg is a rapidly growing financial centre for Europe, the perfect location for a new bank to base its headquarters, to allow it to operate seamlessly across Europe.
In just five years, Banking Circle has grown from a desire to help businesses transact more easily across borders, to a fully licenced international bank, serving thousands of businesses and their customers – in real-time, at low cost and regardless of international borders. It is now delivering bank accounts on a global scale, enabling Payments businesses such as PSPs and acquirers to offer banking services to their clients without having to invest in their own costly infrastructure. The financial utility also works in partnership with Banks to help them extend the services they can offer to their business clients without facing hefty infrastructure investment and regulatory burden.