BNP Paribas acquires Compte Nickel

French fintech startup Compte Nickel was acquired by French bank BNP Paribas yesterday. I couldn’t nail down the price but I’ve heard that it was quite significant.

Compte Nickel was one of the leading fintech startups in France. You can open the equivalent of a current bank account in thousands of tobacco shops in just a few minutes. Compte Nickel gives you an IBAN and a MasterCard for €20 per year.

This is quite different from the typical banking experience in France as you usually have to make an appointment and talk with a bank manager to open an account. Even for online banks, you have to sign different documents and wait a few days.

With this seamless onboarding experience, Compte Nickel managed to attract more than 500,000 clients. It’s not necessarily cheaper but it’s dead simple.

BNP Paribas will keep running the service and is aiming for 2 million customers before 2020. BNP Paribas operates its own digital-first retail bank called Hello Bank. It works pretty much like a regular BNP Paribas account with a different logo, and doesn’t really innovate in this space. BNP Paribas could use Compte Nickel’s talent to work on new digital projects in the future.

While Compte Nickel wanted to revolutionize retail banks, the startup got acquired before it could become a serious contender on the French market. It makes you wonder whether fintech startups are going to disrupt traditional banks or just get acquired before then. Banks have deep pockets, after all.