WIBank-Economic development: FinTech Fintiba in Frankfurt supports international students on their way to Germany
In mid-2017, for the first time, more than 355,000 foreign students were enrolled at German universities. This means that the target of 350,000 set by the universities and politicians for 2020 was reached much earlier. In the past ten years, the number of foreign students in Germany has increased by 37 percent. This is a pleasing number in view of the high competition for intelligent and qualified specialists. International students often have to overcome major hurdles on their way to Germany. The amount of bureaucracy is often decisive for or against a particular country. In addition, there are often language barriers on the services market, which is predominantly geared towards German consumers, when it comes to concluding insurance, bank or rental contracts, for example.
Fintiba GmbH, which is part of the Frankfurt TechQuartier network, has recognised this problem and developed a website and an app through which it offers services for foreign students from non-EU countries in connection with their stay in Germany. Students benefit from online information, service and advisory services and are offered the financial, insurance, telecommunications and travel products they need at the same time. In this way, the prerequisites required for the visa process, such as proof of financial resources and sufficient insurance cover, can be proven much more easily and quickly. The Federal Foreign Office and all German embassies worldwide as well as the local immigration authorities officially recognise the process and the documents. By accessing the Fintiba system, authorities can check the authenticity of the documents online.
The managing directors Bastian Krieghoff and Jonas Marggraf have applied for the Innovationskredit Hessen through their house bank at Wirtschafts- und Infrastrukturbank Hessen (WIBank) for immaterial investments in the innovative further development of the platform. The Innovation Loan is granted by WIBank on behalf of the State of Hesse. The six-figure loan is intended to expand the existing online offering and further improve its use for students. To this end, Fintiba is working closely with product partners such as the Sutor Bank for blocked accounts and DAK and Mawista in insurance matters. In addition, the FinTech company assists students in various other questions of daily life, such as GEZ, electricity providers, visa applications, housing searches, telephone and Internet.
“We are very proud to have several tens of thousands of customers on the market after just one and a half years – and several hundred more every week. With our offer, we have managed to digitize previously complex manual processes. In the future, we want to expand our offering even further and offer international students all services from a single source,” says Bastian Krieghoff of Fintiba. Since its foundation, the company has increased its number of employees to currently 23 – with more than ten nationalities, Fintiba also lives internationality in its own team.
“With its product range, Fintiba strengthens Germany as a location for education, indirectly helps to overcome the shortage of skilled workers and creates qualified jobs in Hessen. We are happy to finance such innovative business ideas,” says Dr. Michael Reckhard, member of WIBank’s Executive Board. “Equally important to us is the close exchange with Hessian founders. In Frankfurt’s TechQuartier, of which WIBank is a founding member, we live this exchange and participate in the development of a dynamic start-up ecosystem in the region. The entire Hessian corporate landscape can profit from this.”
The provision of alternative financing solutions is enormously important because it is often difficult for innovative, young companies to take out loans via commercial banks. The background to this is that their products often have no empirical values and the business risks are therefore difficult to assess. This is precisely where the innovation credit comes in, as it exempts the house banks from 70 percent of the credit risk. At the same time, innovative companies benefit from favourable credit conditions.
The Innovationskredit Hessen can be used by freelancers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees (small MidCaps). In order to be able to benefit from such support options, the company submitting the application must meet one of twelve innovation criteria. This is the case, for example, if the applicant has received an innovation grant in the last three years or an EU innovation prize in the last two years, or if a patent has been applied for or granted.
Since 1st February 2018, it has also been possible to combine the Innovationskredit Hessen and PIUS-Invest funding programmes and to remain exempt from the application of public procurement law. In future, investment projects aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in commercial companies within the framework of process and/or organisational innovations can thus be pro-rated with a public subsidy of up to 30 percent, up to a maximum of 500,000 euros. In addition, it is possible to use the Innovationskredit Hessen to finance up to 100 percent of the remaining eligible expenditure.
Note: The programme is made possible by the InnovFin SME Credit Guarantee Facility of the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Union (Framework Programme for Research and Innovation) and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) established under the Investment Offensive for Europe. The purpose of EFSI is to promote the financing and implementation of productive investments in the European Union and to ensure improved access to finance. Financing is provided from WIBank funds, which include low-interest refinancing from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The original press release can be found at www.wibank.de/wibank/diewibank/presse