About METRO AG
METRO AG is a German multinational wholesale company based in Düsseldorf which operates business membership-only cash and carry stores primarily under the METRO and Makro brands. It was founded in the 1960s, and its customers are mainly hotels, restaurants, the catering industry (HoReCa) and independent merchants. It serves 17 million customers in over 30 countries, mainly focused on Europe with presence in Asia, through a network of stores, delivery services and an online marketplace.
About METRO Financial Services
METRO Financial Services combines innovative financial solutions with the industry-specific needs of the HoReCa sector. As a subsidiary of METRO AG, METRO FS has unparalleled knowledge of the industry and its customers’ needs, while its comprehensive and catering-tailored offering provides self-employed restaurateurs with the financial flexibility they need to succeed.
METRO surveyed its customers about the main business challenges of the HoReCa industry and wanted to create a financial product to meet these specific needs. Many businesses in the sector rely on upfront payment for goods and services, while payback from the client often comes at a later date. METRO discovered that while their customers were unwilling to change their banking set-up – as they rely on the bank branch networks for depositing cash – many had an entirely transactional relationship with their bank that offered almost no added value.
Inspired by platforms like Amazon and Apple, they wanted to build deeper relationships with their customers by providing financial services that supported their specific needs throughout their business lifecycle.
“Our goal is to build long-term customer relationships and be the strong partner of choice for professional customers by providing tailored solutions for all business needs beyond traditional wholesale.“ Michael Zyber, CEO of METRO Financial Services
METRO recognised that they needed to offer their financial solution directly in order to bring them closer to their customers and drive more brand loyalty. “For us, it was very important to have our own interface with the customer – we wanted to have our own METRO FS application and card that is branded with the METRO logo,” said METRO Financial Services CEO, Michael Zyber. “It comes back to the loyalty aspect and bringing customers closer to our own ecosystem, so we weren’t really interested in providing a third-party solution.”
METRO FS chose to partner with Vodeno with its API-based, cloud-native technology combined with its access to a ECB licence and regulatory and compliance expertise via Aion Bank. “We had particular products in mind, so it was important that our partner would be able to bring these to life,” explains Zyber.
“We engaged with more traditional players in the banking market, but they were lacking on the technical side. Combined with a full banking licence, the technology aspect convinced us that Vodeno was the right partner for us.”
Vodeno delivered a solution where METRO’s customers could easily get financing or deferred payments in a fully digital way, giving them more flexibility to manage their finances and enable their businesses to grow faster.
One of the key products launched: a decoupled debit card, which links the card with the user’s primary bank account to pay for any transactions, removing the need for customers to open a new account or top-up funds to the card. Additionally, the card can be used at METRO stores, as well as any other merchant. METRO customers are now empowered to make payment decisions based on their individual cash flow needs, wherever they shop.
Vodeno’s full BaaS solution for METRO includes: front-end, onboarding, accounts, cards and lending.
- Decoupled card => no need to switch or open a new bank account;
- Up to 1% cashback => margin is key, earning money starts with the price paid for goods purchased;
- Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) => integration into the METRO FS card, bringing flexible payment options to offline check-out;
- Employee cards => removes the need to give cash to employees in order to make purchases, now business owners can provide employees with a payment card and stay in full control.
Powered by BaaS, the product grants a credit line during onboarding to METRO Financial Services; this enables the BNPL functionality to be integrated into the debit card, and post-purchase, customers can opt for different payment options for up to 60 days, or pay in up to 48 monthly instalments. Additionally, Vodeno’s platform uses PSD2/open banking standards, enabling the METRO FS app to check a customer’s bank balance with their existing bank four times per day to ensure funds are available for purchases. All of this BaaS functionality happens in the background, and the customer sees an elegant product in the front-end.
Partnering with a BaaS provider also meant that METRO was able to launch these services “in a much leaner, more capital-efficient way,” according to Zyber.
“We didn’t need to build the entire banking infrastructure ourselves or apply for a banking licence, both associated with cost and time. Looking at a business case perspective, we are not serving the mass market like many traditional banks do. We are really focusing on a very specific problem and a very specific segment, so Vodeno’s Banking-as-a-Service solution allowed us to make this work.”
With launching the product and partnering with Vodeno, METRO Financial Services was able to create additional value for customers and METRO.
Customers highly value the payment flexibility and a seamless customer experience in their purchasing journey which is reflected in the strong new customer growth. METRO on the other hand, benefits by being able to offer a new value-adding service to its customers which improves customer retention and provides access to new revenue pools for METRO. “While we’ve only been live for one year, already, this has had a positive impact on the business, because we’re generating additional incremental revenue,” explains Zyber.
Following the success of the partnership to date, METRO have their sights set on scaling their financial services platform and expansion into new territories – something the brand sees as integral to its growth. “Going ahead, we think there’s a lot of potential to add additional financial services to our current offering to further grow the business, and this wouldn’t be possible with a non-Banking-as-a-Service partner,” adds Zyber.
“In the future, our aim is to expand the platform into other METRO countries. Germany was the first country because it’s METRO’s home country, but we would like to grow into other European countries together with Vodeno.”
Our partnership with METRO FS demonstrates how BaaS-enabled embedded finance can help to solve the specific customers needs across different sectors and use cases. METRO FS’s card would not have been possible without the combination of our comprehensive BaaS product offering and access to a full ECB licence.
To find out how we can help your business, arrange a call with us today.