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BBVA Moves Tech Investments to Outside Fund

BBVA is changing how it invests in fintech startups.

The Madrid-based bank announced Thursday that it will invest $250 million in Propel Venture Partners. BBVA will serve as a limited partner and Propel will manage the investment independently.

The investment redirects and builds upon the $100 million originally earmarked for the BBVA Ventures fund, which was established in 2013 to invest in startups in the United States and Europe. It acquired the neobank Simple in 2014 and last year took a 29.5% stake in Atom, the U.K.'s first mobile-only bank.

Propel will be managed by Jay Reinemann, Tom Whiteaker and Ryan Gilbert. Reinemann and Whiteaker previously managed the BBVA Ventures fund. Gilbert has been actively involved in several global financial services startups as a founder, investor and independent board member, the company said in a press release.

Propel will be based in San Francisco but will also open an office in London.

''In an increasingly competitive fintech venture capital environment, we believe that our increased capital, Propel's independence and a presence in London can enable us to invest in the best fintech start-ups and better support BBVA's vision of using technology to change financial services for the benefit of the customer,"Teppo Paavola, the bank's chief development officer and general manager of new digital business, said in a press release.

Propel will focus on early-to-late-stage investment opportunities in areas such as payments, credit, insurance, wealth management, e-commerce, security and compliance.

Propel will also manage BBVA Ventures' existing investments, including its stake in themarketplace lender Prosper, the wealth management adviser Personal Capital and the digital cash-flow manager Taulia.

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