Meet Penta: A digital innovator reinventing business banking

A key differentiator of the German banking landscape is its decentralised nature. Structured across three tiers, businesses and consumers can choose to bank with large national institutions, private entities, or regional co-ops. To some new entrants this setup might present a challenge, but for innovators like Penta it’s a golden opportunity.

“It means there is space for multiple players,” believes the Berlin-based digital banking platform’s Chief Product Officer Lukas Zörner. “In such an environment, many valuable partnerships can be established that bring the greatest added value to customers,” he says.

Lukas’ comments formed part of an exclusive interview with Marqeta’s London team on the topic of modern digital builders. We were keen to understand how Penta is delivering a new kind of business-to-business (B2B) banking in what is renowned for being a conservative market, where credit usage is comparatively low by European standards.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the Penta business account, it offers a fully digital experience that combines business banking and accounting through the use of APIs. Penta reports that opening an account takes fewer than 48 hours and the firm prides itself on offering a transparent pricing structure.

Indeed, transparency is a common theme at Penta and is central to the company’s brand and mission. Lukas says, “It’s essential to stay true to one’s path and beliefs, because if you do, both existing and prospective customers will take notice and reward you for it.”

But while business philosophies built around authenticity are important today, how is Penta offering a truly personalised business banking experience? “A key priority for us is to constantly increase investment into our data capabilities. Being able to understand data is a crucial part of being able to execute really well. It means our customers can experience a kind of banking that is unique to their needs and situation. That’s why data is among the top priorities of our company in every quarter,” Lukas says.

Thanks to this approach, Penta believes that conservative attitudes towards banking are beginning to shift. Lukas predicts that most small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME)s will expect their banking providers to offer a digital solution within the next five years. And as with other European nations, the pandemic has accelerated the digital banking trend because, according to Lukas, businesses have seen the benefits of taking things online — and they appreciate the way innovators like Penta have pivoted to provide assistance.

He explains: “Our key goal was to support SMEs throughout this difficult phase with everything that we have to offer. Hence we built information pages and launched the state-backed KfW loans together with a partner. And by providing our SME marketplace to customers but also via our KfW loan offering, we were able to facilitate access to many more products out there.”

“This is what sets us apart as not every product has to be built by us, but we enjoy working with strong partners and offering those products on our marketplace. What we’ve learnt is that the crisis has amplified cash flow and financing as the key themes for all SMEs.”

The challenge now is to build and improve the ecosystem, whilst ensuring day-to-day banking for SMEs works flawlessly. It’s against this background that Lukas sees Penta enhancing its business banking platform by providing a wide range of products that make it more than a traditional bank offering.

Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us and hear Penta’s story. If you would like to learn more about how Penta is reinventing business banking, visit its site here.

As part of our Digital Builder series, Marqeta regularly engages with companies in the payments ecosystem to learn more about the new approaches they are bringing to solving challenges related to financial services and money movement in general.

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