The challenger bank funding rounds are coming hard and fast lately with Danish neobank Lunar raising a €210m Series D round just days after Dutch rival bunq made its first ever raise. Both digital lenders are part of the growing European fintech scene aiming to give traditional banking behemoths a run for their money.
While the Nordic neobank didn’t provide an official valuation in its press release, Scandi newspaper Dagens Industri puts Lunar’s valuation north of the $1bn mark, meaning it’s now joined the coveted unicorn club.
Investment company HEARTLAND led the round, with Swedish investment firm Kinnevik and Chinese technology titan Tencent topping up Lunar’s coffers as well.
“We are at a true crossroads in the Nordics,” said Ken Villum Klausen, founder and CEO of Lunar. “Both private and business customers expect a more convenient, empathic and engaging alternative to traditional banks, lenders and payment service providers.
“We are beyond excited to welcome investors with such valuable experience to join our next stage of growth. It’s a massive step for both Lunar and Nordic banking customers. The investment underpins Lunar’s long term vision of building a digital-first financial ecosystem for both private consumers and businesses.”
The news follows from Lunar’s acquisition of Swedish consumer lending and peer-to-peer savings platform Lendify in April. The acquisition is the latest in a string of examples of challenger banks buying smaller startups, hinting that the market is quickly consolidating.
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For example, when bunq secured its $228m Series A round last week, it said it would use the money to buy more smaller firms, having already announced the acquisition of Capitalflow Group, which its investor Pollen Street Capital used to own.
Similarly, UK neobank Revolut’s founder Nik Storonsky told the Financial Times early on in the pandemic that Covid-19 presented the challenger bank with ample opportunities to buy startups cheaply as the global health crisis would see those firms struggle to make ends meet.
Lunar is part of a wave of new Nordic neobanks that include Icelandic startup indó as well as Swedish challenger banks Northmill and Rocker. The Danish digital defier of traditional banking claims to stand apart from the crowd by being the only cloud-based digital banking platform to have been granted a banking license in the Nordics.
That said, it should be mentioned that Stockholm-headquartered buy-now-pay-pay-later giant Klarna is technically registered as a bank in Sweden. Northmill has also gotten its hand on a banking licence.
These challenger banks are part of a wider European wave of neobanks that plan to purloin customers from on incumbent banks’ who have struggled financially since the 2008 recession, as described in GlobalData’s Beyond the Hype: Insight into Digital Challenger Banks thematic research report.
Lunar most recently secured €40m in Series C funding round in October last year.