One of China’s biggest financial conglomerates announced its first venture into continental Europe on Monday.
Ping An Insurance Group’s Global Voyager Investment Fund is leading the latest funding round worth 41.5 million euros ($47 million) for Finleap, a Berlin-based financial technology (fintech) company. Finleap provides technology to build digital solutions in Europe’s banking, insurance and asset management industries.
“There’s just a tremendous amount of work that remains to be done in Europe,” said Donald Lacey, managing director and chief operating officer of Ping An Global Voyager, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”
Ping An is a Shenzhen-based financial services group with more than 182 million customers worldwide. The company’s Global Voyager Investment Fund was launched in 2017 with $1 billion in seed capital to invest in fintech and digital health start-ups.
“We try always to put money to work where we have a significant conviction that some way, somehow by virtue of proximity to Ping An, we’re going to be adding a lot of value to a partner company,” Lacey said.
The fund’s investment in Finleap represents its first foray into the continental European market, after inking some deals in the U.K. Lacey added he sees big opportunity in Europe’s “immense” financial services industry, which he said needs the help of start-ups like Finleap to innovate.
“The ability of legacy financial institutions to innovate in a meaningful way is absolutely hampered by their legacy technology systems, their legacy issues,” he said.
Last week Switzerland’s competition watchdog launched an investigation into a number of financial companies including Credit Suisse and UBS for a suspected boycott of mobile payment solutions like Apple Pay and Samsung. The investigation sets up a struggle between Europe’s legacy banks and technology companies that are increasingly wading into the financial services industry.
“Clearly our competition comes from the new technology companies and the competition for the banks comes from the same direction,” said Ramin Niroumand, founder and CEO of Finleap.