Digipigs and digistocks? Nordea is watching the fintech space closely

TheFactory fintech startups April 2017
06-04-17 15:00 | About Nordea | Digital banking

Nordea is taking up residence at fintech hubs and accelerators around the Nordic region. This week Norway took centre stage when our CEO visited Oslo-based TheFactory, which is running accelerator programmes for startups.

TheFactory is running two tracks – FintechFactory and InsurtechFactory – and Nordea is a partner for both programmes. Nordea Group CEO Casper von Koskull listened as 10 fintech startups pitched their ideas. Digipig wants to turn the old-fashioned piggy bank into a digital piggy bank connected to your child’s bank account, while DigiStocks wants to make it as easy to set up a new company as it is to set up an account on Facebook. 

Nordea is already partnering with fintech startups in the Nordic region, including Spiff in Norway, which has developed a new social savings app, and Fjuul in Finland, which has developed a fitness app that turns exercise into rewards, such as discounts on insurance.

Partnership is at the core of our banking philosophy as we seek new partners, new ideas and new business models to delight our customers with innovative products and services. Casper sees customers banking via an ecosystem of players. Some will run the customer interface, while others will deliver specific products or the underlying infrastructure.

“It’s a completely new banking landscape,” Casper told 1,000 participants at an event sponsored by Finance Norway before he visited TheFactory, and invited them to contact him if they have a new product or an idea.

Acting like a fintech

Customers and society will benefit as old and new companies work together to develop better products and services. “I think we all benefit,” Casper said, telling the audience that they will see a lot more announcements from our bank on this front in the very near future. “We will forge partnerships, we will make investments and we will probably also do M&A in this space,” he said.

Nordea invests NOK 8 billion, around EUR 900 million, into the digital world every year; we did it last year, we will do it this year, and we will do it again next year. That makes us one of the biggest investors in almost any sector in the Nordic region, and certainly the biggest fintech in the region, he said. 

“So we are in a way a fintech. But it’s not only about the money we invest because we also need to act as a fintech,” Casper said. That entails having the willingness to embrace change and having people who take ownership and drive that change. In other words, we need a culture of collaboration, courage and passion; that is, passion for our customers, who are impatient, empowered and knowledgeable, Casper said. Customers expect immediate, accessible service from companies now, including banks.

The very nature of banking is changing – and changing fast – driven by these new customer expectations and by new technology. “The digital revolution has never been as imminent as it is today,” Casper said.

Perhaps the biggest change to the way the banking industry is operating is what’s known as Open Banking. Nordea was one of the first in the Nordic region to announce our open banking developer portal, where fintechs and other external developers are invited to create new products and services for our customers at a faster pace than we could do this by ourselves. So far more than 500 users have signed up, even though the portal hasn’t opened yet. “This is a fundamentally new way of working,” Casper said.

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