Bbva would create a digital consumer bank in Germany to rival JPMorgan

Bbva would create a digital consumer bank in Germany to rival JPMorgan

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA plans to open a digital consumer bank in Germany, using existing technology to expand at relatively low cost.

The project is led by Javier Lipuzcoa, director of BBVA's digital bank in Italy, according to people familiar with the matter. The lender is currently preparing a feasibility study and is forming a team that would be in charge of the new unit, the people said, who asked not to be identified because it is private information.

A BBVA spokesperson declined to comment.

BBVA joins firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. in seeking to expand in Europe's largest economy through digital banking services. A similar initiative by Spain's second largest bank in the Italian market exceeded initial expectations, with more than 420,000 customers signed up.

Digital banks tend to operate at lower costs than traditional banks, but typically have to win over large numbers of customers to be profitable. A similar consideration by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. several years ago never materialized.

Last year, BBVA had 40 full-time employees in Germany, of a total workforce of around 120,000, according to its annual report.

The lender is an investor in Solaris SE, a German fintech that offers white-label banking services. Last year, Solaris fended off a threat from German banking regulator that would have forced the company to cut its business over fears that controls and capital strength were not keeping pace with growth.