Nicolas Reboud's interview | Shine


Innovation Insider with Nicolas Reboud, co-founder of Shine | Marie-Christine Ducholet, Head of SG retail banking in France | Didier Lallemand, SG Ventures

Nicolas, tell us what Shine does?

Shine provides professionals, small companies and independents in France with an online bank account with a suite of added features that make life simpler for them. Our customers generally don't have a full-time admin person. There are about 3.8 million companies in France right now and about 3.6 million fit this target category.

We offer banking as a core product, then we provide tools that help customers on a range of things relating to their business, like calculate taxes, writing invoices and sending them to customers for online payment. You can upload receipts and link in your accountant as well. We help customers find the right legal structure and then do everything to help them set up the business. Setting up a company with Shine can be done in a few days. Without the simplification tools that we offer, it would take up to a month.

 How did you get the idea to start Shine?

It started in 2016 when I met Raphael Simon (Shine’s Co-Founder). He was a freelance software engineer at the company where I was working. He found admin very painful and just wanted to focus on his job.

We came up with the idea of creating an admin copilot for small companies and independent workers to solve that problem. We started working full time in early 2017 to simplify and streamline processes. We realised that having a bank account at the centre of the service would be much easier and more proactive. We asked other companies about their pro current accounts and found most were very disappointed. In France, it's very expensive and most have features they don't need, so we realised there was a problem. This is where we got the idea of building a copilot service inside a bank account.  

What is your business model?

There are three main source of incomes: first, the monthly subscription for using Shine, second the company creation package, and lastly the interchange rates (just like any bank, we get a small percentage of every transaction done with our card, without any charge for the client obviously).

We’re not a bank since we operate under a payment services provider licence granted by France’s regulator, the ACPR, to Treezor, our banking partner and another member of the Societe Generale Group.Shine is a fully online service, so there are no physical branches. If you need to manage your bank account, you contact us through our web chat service. It's available 7 days a week, and it’s all managed by humans from our office in France:    we don't outsource any of our customer relationships. The big differentiator I mentioned earlier is the suite of tools we offer to simplify admin – invoicing, the link to the accountant, setting up a new business and so on.  

What makes you a success?

 Since we started in 2017, we have grown to about 100,000 customers, with a team of 120 people handling a few billion euros of transactions every year. That’s by simplifying admin and by being competitive in the pro’ banking market. A Shine account can be five to 10 times cheaper than a traditional bank account, depending on your legal form and what you do with it. We gauge success in two ways. There is the economic success, certainly, but the second is to invent a sustainable bank. That's very important to us and we don’t consider ourselves a success unless we manage both.

We want to reduce our environmental footprint as much as possible and help customers do so too. When you open a Shine account, we send training materials to help you understand how to reduce your carbon footprint. We launched a programme called the Climate Act, where companies commit to conduct a carbon footprint analysis, publish the results and try to reduce their impact. It’s been signed by about 250 companies now, so that's a very leading movement on the tech scene. We pledged 1% of our revenue to the planet and that's very visible on our website and in our communications. I hope it will be one more argument for customers to join us, but it's not the main one. The main one is to have the best product at a good price.

How is your relationship one year after your integration into the Group?

The partnership with Societe Generale gives us the best of both worlds. We have the support of a big institution, with its ambition for the brand, plus the stability and security. At the same time, we have an opportunity to build new services and things together. Shine is distributed through Societe Generale’s branches so as a pro’ customer, you have the option of a traditional bank account or a Shine one. We were able to launch a loan offer built with Société Générale because we were a member of the Group. I don't know how we could have done it otherwise.We still operate as an independent company, brand and team. During the past year we’ve doubled our customers, tripled our revenue and doubled the size of the team.

Last year’s acquisition of Shine hasn't had a big impact on our roadmap and we’re on track to deliver new products, like the virtual card. Most of the work we've done was around scaling the company because our growth was really fast, forcing us to adapt and also to maintain our quality of service. This is where the Group’s support has also been invaluable.

Our long-term vision for your sector? Businesses don't understand why their professional bank account should be uglier and slower than the apps they use on their smartphone, so the major trend is through simplification and through admin help. This is what we offer.

Marie-Christine, how has Shine fitted into the retail bank in France? 

We shared the same outlook on where pro’ banking is heading, which led us to acquire Shine.

Our innovation strategy means if we can’t build it ourselves, we partner with someone who can. The acquisition has been a springboard for us. Having a smaller and more agile company like Shine on board has allowed us to respond quicker to the rapidly evolving and competitive pro’ market with a fresh and relevant offer.

Shine has been a great fit. Nicolas’ comments about protecting the client relationship and Shine’s sustainability goals are completely aligned with the Group’s strategic goals of being client centric and a responsible bank. Shine’s spectacular growth rates and excellent customer satisfaction scores validate all the reasons for the investment, our efforts to scale up the business, provide support in compliance and to offer its services through our branch network. Shine presents an attractive channel for growth. The ambition we share with the management team is for Shine to be the market leader in account openings in the pro’ segment of retail banking in France.