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New Belgian cooperative bank raises €30 million in a month
A Belgian cooperative aiming to build a new ethical and sustainable bank has successfully hit its €30 million fundraising target in just one month.
More than 55,000 people joined the crowdfunding campaign for NewB, a bank which pledges to be "transparent and 100% geared towards green energy".
Individuals could pledge to buy shares from just €20, while bigger investors have included the Walloon government (€1 million), ULB university (€200,000) and the Scouts (€50,000).
NewB needed the capital to obtain a banking licence from the European Central Bank, which is expected to decide on the application by March.
If all goes to plan, NewB plans to begin marketing its current accounts, savings and personal loans from summer 2020, with business loans to follow in January 2021.
The bank's president Bernard Bayot said that, if approved, this would be "the first time in more than 50 years that a Belgian bank has been created from scratch".
It took NewB 10 days to raise its first million euros, but payments have accelerated sharply since. "The snowball effect we were anticipating came true," Bayot said.
The cooperative is keeping its fundraising campaign open for an extra week, until 4 December, with the hope of eventually hitting €35 million.
The increased target aims to cover any shortfall from subscribers who do not honour their pledge to transfer the money. Bank transaction times are also expected to be slower over the coming days because of the retail rush caused by Black Friday.