Unicredit bank buildingItalian bank Unicredit and Taulia have announced a partnership to offer supplier finance solutions to larger corporates in Unicredit’s European territories. The Unicredit deal comes weeks after the California-based fintech announced an agreement with JP Morgan.

The new agreement, which is non-exclusive, has been building for more than three years as the two companies have cooperated on several joint pitches. Unicredit will still offer its own solution to smaller businesses, but Taulia will benefit from the ‘special relationship’ which has built up when it comes to larger corporates.

‘We have an internal UniCredit supply chain finance solution through which we offer smaller and more domestically-oriented programs, but for larger companies who want a multi-bank platform, we recognize the need to co-operate with the best fintechs,’ said Luca Corsini, Co-Head of Global Transaction Banking at Unicredit. ‘We invited Taulia to a workshop on working capital back in 2018 and their presentation impressed us.’

For Taulia, the aim of the partnership is to, ‘accelerate the rate at which we meet new companies in Europe,’ according to Michael Rieskamp, Managing Director EMEA. ‘We see this very much as an additional channel to expand our reach.’

Corsini said that demand for supplier finance had traditionally been muted in Italy, but that has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic in both Italy and Germany. ‘ In the past two or three months, we’ve seen an enormous acceleration of interest in supply chain finance,’ he said. ‘In Italy, it’s not usually a matter of wanting to defer payment, but rather a desire to support companies and keep their supply chains intact – a sense of social responsibility on the part of larger companies towards their smaller suppliers.’

The advantages of partnerships between banks and fintechs have become increasingly clear in recent years. Citi describes its own dynamic discounting solution as ‘powered by C2FO’, while Santander announced a partnership with Tradeshift back in 2017.

For Rieskamp, this is only logical ‘When I joined Taulia four years ago it sometimes seemed like, ‘Us against the banks,’ he said. ‘But I had worked in banking for 20 years and I have always felt that wasn’t a healthy approach. In this space I see it as more of a complimentary fit – banks are great at what they do but maybe lagging a bit on the tech side and that’s where we come in.’