Qonto, a French fintech that has already been operating in Italy for some time and with great success, continues to grow. We asked Mariano Spalletti about the next steps in Italy and how the latest capital raised will be used, trying to grasp the secret of the success of this very active and strong company on the market
What were the biggest success factors that led to this round in your opinion?
Since its launch in 2017, Qonto has been committed to building the most loved all-in-one financial solution for SMEs and professionals. We offer a business-friendly digital solution that simplifies business management, from payments to finance and accounting, allowing our customers to focus on what really matters.
We have won the trust of 220,000 businesses in Europe and our investors with our distinctive and winning elements: a glocal and customer-centric approach based on careful listening and analysis of customer needs and the ability to quickly and effectively launch integrations and ad-hoc functionalities dedicated to each local market, a super-intuitive user experience and a high level of customer service.
In which assets will you invest the money raised?
We want to become the financial solution of choice for 1 million SMEs and professionals in Europe by 2025. Thanks to the capital raised, we will further increase our penetration in the markets where in which we are already present – France, Italy, Germany and Spain -, investing more than 100 million euro in each country over the next two years, and entering new markets by 2023.
To do so, Qonto will focus on recruiting new talents until we quadruple the team by 2025, including by creating a new hub for customer service operations, in Barcelona. To strengthen our international talent acquisition strategy and meet the needs of an increasingly agile and mobile team, we will also launch the European “Qonto Campus” programme to enable and encourage international mobility between local offices.
In addition, we will continue to invest in our product offering through in-house development, new strategic partnerships and potential acquisitions to offer customers the best products available on the market
Focus on Italy, 100 million. Why focus on Italy and what is your approach?
Italy is a very important market for Qonto; the second largest after France, which has been was chosen in 2019 as the first stage of its international expansion because of its dense network of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are experiencing an acceleration phase in their digitalisation process. We saw Italy as a mature market, with a large unmet demand for digital financial instruments from both businesses and professionals.
Since our debut, we have demonstrated exponential growth in the Italian market, with a 145% increase in customers by 2021. We have developed more than 30 functionalities for the Italian market and signed 17 partnerships at a local level, to provide Italian SMEs and professionals with solutions tailored to their needs and offer customers a full range of services, from digital business banking to integrated accounting tools and team expense management solutions.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for a fintech operating in Italy today and how do you intend to tackle them?
Compared to other European countries, Italy is lagging behind in its digitalisation process: suffice it to say that in the 2021 edition of the DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index of the European Commission), despite an improvement of five positions year on year, our country is still in the 20th place out of 27 Member States and even, in digital skills, in the 25th place. This scenario certainly represents a challenge for those operating in the digital world, especially at B2B level. As At Qonto, with our business finance management solution and through our communication initiatives, we are doing our best to raise awareness of the opportunities that digital tools offer for doing business, also in Italy, and to help accelerate the digitalisation of SMEs in our country.
As far as the financial sector is concerned, in Italy – as well as in Europe – a further realisation of the potential of ‘Open Banking’ remains desirable, looking towards ‘Open Finance’, with a growing integration of non-banking services and standardisation of API and data access methods.
Furthermore, in the B2B segment there is still a long way to go to bring together expertise from traditional players and innovators. In this sense, we are committed to creating partnerships that not only allow us to offer our clients an increasingly complete solution in a short timeframe, but also contribute to the development and innovation of the sector.
Are you planning to expand your team and if so what kind of profiles are you interested in?
Qonto’s team working for the Italian market now counts more than 40 talents. In order to offer the most personalised experience and to be even closer to local customers and partners, we opened our offices in Milan in May 2021. Expanding our team is one of our priorities for development in the country and we aim to grow expand our team with the best talents, reaching 100 people focused on the Italian market by 2023. At the moment we are mainly looking for marketing and sales profiles, human resources experts, product, customer service and compliance.
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