Berlin The run on the new quick loans from the state development bank KfW has started. But fintechs hardly play a role in the distribution of funds, and that annoys the young technology-driven financial companies: “It stunned me that the house bank principle should also apply to quick loans for small and medium-sized companies,” criticized Marko Wenthin, head of the online bank for business customers, Penta .
Although KfW is completely at risk with these loans, an entire market sector, the fintechs, is excluded from this lending process.
On Wednesday, the federal government opened another protective shield for corona-damaged companies. Companies with ten or more employees can apply for a KfW quick loan, which is 100 percent secured by the federal government. However, to the annoyance of the fintechs, these loans are only allowed to pass through the house banks such as savings banks, Volksbanks or private banks.
For the Penta boss, the fintechs, who are subject to bank regulation or use processes approved by the financial regulator Bafin, are predestined to participate in this public funding program. “We carry out the highest banking standards to identify our customers, the so-called KYC process (Know Your Customer), and can scale quickly thanks to our digital expertise,” said Wenthin.
The co-boss of the financial services provider for the self-employed, Kontist, agrees with the criticism. “After all, it is unreasonable to expect Penta, Kontist or other digital financial service providers to turn to a savings bank or cooperative bank especially for public aid,” says Sibylle Strack.
The Federal Ministry of Economics, however, assumes that only the use of established procedures ensures that the loans arrive at the company as quickly as possible. For this reason, lending within the framework of the KfW special program is based on the established house bank principle with the banks accredited by KfW, explained a spokeswoman. Even with a 100 percent liability waiver, certain customary bank procedures would have to be followed.
In contrast, the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) is open to criticism. “We are constantly reviewing proposals to further improve government aid programs. This also includes the proposal to involve fintechs in KfW lending, ”emphasized a spokeswoman. The chairman of the Fintech Council, who is located at the BMF, does not see the door slammed yet. “The processes are constantly being optimized at high pressure. I also see the greatest potential for working with fintechs there, ”said Chris Bartz.
Fintechs are not only criticizing the practice of granting KfW quick loans. For Kontist’s co-boss, the Corona emergency aids for self-employed persons and small businesses “go beyond the realities of life”. Her main criticism: Unlike the KfW quick loans for companies with ten or more employees, this aid should not be used as an entrepreneur’s wage. “Legislators must ensure the same conditions as quickly as possible, otherwise our clients will quickly face Hartz IV for basic security”, demands Strack. Hundreds of thousands of self-employed people could be affected.
The Federal Ministry of Economics does not explain why the emergency aid may not be used as entrepreneurial wages. But the ministry justifies the exceptions in the quick loan as follows: If the KfW quick loan is drawn on, a distribution of profits and dividends is excluded. “Due to the loan terms of up to ten years, customary market remuneration to business owners is excluded,” said the spokeswoman.
Not only fintechs like Penta and Kontist see opportunities in the corona crisis to offer help for their customers. FinAPI sees its strengths in fraud prevention. According to Florian Haagen, head of Fintech, which offers interfaces to bank accounts, among other things, applicants should be checked when granting emergency aid. “There are cases where fraudsters apply for emergency aid with little publicly available or undercover information,” he says. “In order to prevent fraud, we recommend checking whether the applicant is actually a so-called beneficial owner and the specified account is in their name or the company.”
This control is often difficult or impossible to do manually. Together with its parent company, the Schufa economic information file, FinAPI therefore offers banks the appropriate technology with which they can automatically check the applications and validate the account details provided. One is already “in very concrete talks” with various institutes.
More: Fintechs – That could be the crisis winners and losers.