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Santander, Sanpaolo Team Up With SME FinTechs

Two top banks in Europe have announced separate deals with SME FinTechs in an effort to increase small business access to financing.

According to recent reports, Banco Santander launched a partnership with U.S.-based Tradeshift Network Ltd, which provides supply chain financing through its online platform. As the EU’s largest bank, Santander will deploy Tradeshift’s solutions to offer supply chain financing to its own customers.

Tradeshift operates an online platform for buyers and suppliers to transact and interact, with the portal offering access to key trade information and documents — like invoices — for lenders like Santander.

Their collaboration will first be available to U.K. clients later this year, with plans for a global rollout in 2018.

“Our goal is to be able to finance each transaction within the supply chain,” said Alejandro Romanos, global head of innovation in supplier finance for Santander, in an interview with The New York Times.

“We are starting to see the emergence of the first platforms where there is more than one financial institution providing its services,” said Christian Lanng, Tradeshift co-founder and chief executive, in a separate interview with the publication.

Lanng’s remarks speak to the rising trend of collaboration between traditional banks and FinTechs.

Earlier this year, Tradeshift announced another partnership with HSBC Bank in a deal to co-develop a supply chain finance platform for corporate clients of the bank.

Santander’s partnership with Tradeshift was announced the same day another major bank in Europe, Intesa Sanpaolo, revealed its own deal with iwoca.

The Italian bank is working with SME lender iwoca as Sanpaolo looks “to enter segments of the market not served by other banks,” according to Maurizio Montagnese, chief innovation officer at Sanpaolo.

At the same time, Sanpaolo’s FinTech venture capital unit Neva Finventures also said it invested in iwoca, though financial details of the funding were not reported.

Montagnese added that there are “industrial synergies” between the two companies that “could be significant in the coming years.” Iwoca, which launched in 2012, said it has worked with 10,000 SMEs across the U.K., Spain, Germany and Poland.

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