Greek challenger bank Praxia, founded by British-American banker and former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, will be sold to payments processor Viva Wallet after the country’s central bank intervened, according to a report.
Diamond and his partner, David Schamis, are the only shareholders in the bank, which was started after the demise of Credicom Consumer Finance Bank, a specialist Greek automotive lender. Praxia was founded after Credicom was acquired by Credit Agricole.
Praxia had ambitious plans for expansion, with a network of retail stores and business centers in the works. It wanted to grow its lending to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as offer a slew of digital services and products for its customers. It planned to offer auto loans, more deposits and lending, with a plan to increase its loan portfolio to 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) by the year 2022.
Diamond reportedly invested about 100 million euros ($110 million) into Praxia, and he wasn’t happy about the Bank of Greece asking Praxia to increase its capital reserve by 30 million euros ($33 million), so he started looking for a buyer.
Talks began with Pancretan Co-operative Bank but didn’t get anywhere, and then Viva Wallet stepped in. The deal is still subject to the approval of the Bank of Greece.
In 2018, Praxia teamed up with bank technology provider Temenos on its core tech.
“In Greece, we are starting to see signs of economic recovery,” said Praxia Bank CEO Anastasia Sakellariou at the time, adding that supporting SMBs was a key way to further boost economic strength. “As a startup bank, we are starting fresh to build a bank with the customer experience in mind, and without being weighed down by legacy technology.”
Tenemos cited an increase in customers wanting to switch banking providers.
“With 80 percent of corporates in countries without real-time payment infrastructures considering moving their banking relationships within the next year, it’s time for banks to address the move to real-time [payments] by leveraging the latest end-to-end digital software that will allow creation of true real-time services in a single platform,” said Darryl Proctor, Temenos product director for payments in Europe, in a statement at the time.