Fidor Bank has surfaced frequently in the digital currency world during the past year. It’s not often that you hear words like “bank” and “Bitcoin” in the same sentence unless you’re talking about partner banks distancing themselves from Bitcoin, or finding out what happened to Neo & Bee.
Who are they?
The contemporary form of the bank took shape in 2009. They offer conventional financial products like accounts, loans and investments. There are no brick-and-mortar branches.
Yet they are of a different breed from any other bank. Aside from functioning primarily as an online bank, they are heavy on the social-mobile side of things as well. You can actually sign in through Facebook Connect. They even offered a savings account with an interest rate determined by the number of Like’s awarded on the company’s Facebook page. Customers can interact in the Fidor online community- with each other and even support staff, if they have questions. They also offer p2p loans through crowdfunding and p2p betting. So it’s only natural that they’ll take a liking to p2p currencies.
Indeed, the company is more than just a bank. In many respects, it behaves like a marketing firm. They offer b2b marketing services for other financial institutions through its Affiliando program. They also offer display advertising, email marketing, social media marketing, SEO services, website creation and database services.
The company is based in Munich and has 49 employees.
Fidor & digital currency: A match made in heaven
Following are some of the key dates and milestones during their warming relationship with digital currency:
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July 2013: Fidor partners with Bitcoin.de, a German bitcoin exchange, to offer near real-time trading based out of a FidorPay giro account. They are also providing them with a “liability umbrella”, enabling them to prove that they’re adhering to official financial regulations like AML.
October 2013: Kraken partners with Fidor to provide their EU customers with banking facilities.
May 5, 2014: Fidor employs the Ripple protocol, allowing customers to send funds in any currency at a lower cost. It also allows the bank to transfer funds between partners in different countries and avoid exposure to foreign exchange costs and risk.
May 27, 2014: Fidor partners with BIPS, a bitcoin payment processor and wallet provider. This allows BIPS to offer free SEPA settlements to its merchants.
In addition to viewing holdings of “conventional” digital currencies, you can even view your World of Warcraft (WoW) Gold balance in the same portal as your fiat holdings.
Technically, the company’s dabbling in digital currencies takes place on the periphery. They aren’t officially touching bitcoins with bare hands, holding them in company accounts or transmitting them. Still, their heavy involvement goes way beyond where most banks dare to go.
But are they regulated?
Yes, according to the rules set forth by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (no that’s not a typo. In English, that’s the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority. Also abbreviated as BaFin). BaFin supervises more than 4000 financial institutions in Germany including banks, insurers and investment funds. Perhaps Fidor would face more scrutiny in places like the U.S. or Canada.
They’re a publicly traded company in Germany, with shares listed on the Deutsche Börse Xetra and Berlin, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf stock exchanges. Fidor’s market cap is roughly 50 million euros. However, also unlike most banks, they are still struggling to turn a profit. Clearly, they are “banking” on the future success of the technologies they embrace.