by Arturo González Mac Dowell
On December 15, 2003 Eurobits was founded by Bankinter and Cajamadrid e-Business.
With the purpose of providing financial account aggregation services through the Internet or other channels.
As a bank founded company, the name was inspired by BITS (The Technology Group for the Financial Services Round Table) from the US who had issued several account aggregation guidelines.
Actually, Bankinter was the first company in Europe to provide an Account Information Service, called Agregador Financiero Bankinter back in February 2001 as announced here. There was a race as to whom would be the first to market and Bankinter beat Patagon (now Open Bank) by a matter of days. Luis Uguina, now Chief Digital Officer at Macquarie Bank was responsible for the technical feat, while the now extinct Qarana, where Alfonso Sánchez, now Sales Manager at Eurobits worked at the time, was responsible for the other one.
And later with the first Payment Initiation service in Europe, as can be seen in a screenshot from Bankinter´s Account Aggregation service user manual.
In the beginning some of Spain’s banks were not very happy with Bankinter’s initiative and we had to fight hard to keep the service running smoothly on a daily basis.
In January 2006, Bankinter launched the world’s first mobile aggregator service with our help:
This was about one and a half years before Mint was launched.
In July 2008 Francisco González President of BBVA and José Ignacio Goirigolzarri CEO of BBVA (now President of Bankia) announced their flagship product BBVA Tu Cuentas. A PFM utilizing screen scraping to obtain information from other Banks. This is more or less when Facebook was born, and the European Commission started working on PSD2.
This project, which was a joint effort between Strands, then led by Francisco Martin, and Eurobits was featured by Forrester Research as how Next-Generation Online Banking would look like. It seems they were spot on.
Fintonic partnered with us in 2011 to build what has become the largest PFM service in Europe and LATAM.
But we also went through rough times, and 2012 was our “annus horribilis”. Due to the situation of the banking sector, many of our customers merged, which effectively meant losing them as customers, such as Bancaja, Caixa Catalunya, Banco Pastor or Barclays. Unfortunately, some of our shareholders were not in their best shape either. And thus, not in a position to financially back us. But they say that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. So, we determined that we had been racing too hard and too long to call it quits, and we jointly decided to slash our salaries to save the company. Think about this for a moment. The employees and directors of a bank-owned company jointly decide to cut their salaries up to 40% in order to save the company.
Not long after that, our largest shareholder had bailed out and was forced to sell their share at Eurobits. This opened an opportunity to negotiate a two year option to buy the company.
In July 2016 we took the gamble and bet it all on red, actually purple, our corporate color. And took over the company, which has been privately owned since then.
In addition, PSD2 a directive that was created to regulate the services of TPPs, which we were the first of a kind in Europe was published and entered into force in January 2018. Open banking was coming off-age.
Since then we have been heavily involved in its development. Eurobits is chairman of the European Third Party Providers Association (ETPPA) and signatory of the Future European Fintech which have campaigned for fair access under PSD2. Eurobits also takes part on the works of the European Commission’s PSD2 API Evaluation Group.
But let’s be realistic. We’ve just been going through a 15-year qualifier that arguably might have brought us to the pole position in Europe. But the race starts September 2019 and the grid is full. Let’s hope the same avant-garde thinking that allowed us many market firsts ant the determination that got us through turbulent times, will allow us to get the hole shot. You can bet we have trained hard for this.
Arturo Gonzalez Mac Dowell
President and CEO