Why is Nordea working with a factory?

07-04-17 13:25 | Digital banking | The Digital Hub

A factory is not a store offering goods for sale – it’s a facility where hands must get dirty for the work to get done. Imagine, on top of that, a factory that produces great ideas and brilliant digital solutions. We found one in Norway – The Factory – an accelerator for fintech and insurtech startups. 

Some might think that white-collar workers and blue-collar workers wouldn’t get along, that it would be challenging to work side by side. While there are cultural differences for sure, that’s the beauty of it – working together produces better results than working alone.    

Our contribution is human capital – we bring domain know-how and business insight from the financial industry. The startups bring fresh ideas, technological know-how, different ways of working and unlimited optimism. Together we can make magic and uncover new opportunities.  

Finding Nordea people willing to put time into meeting the startups has not been difficult – quite the contrary.  What’s not to like about being asked on a date with the startups? It’s exciting, inspiring and you just might find a match that will change – if not your life – then maybe the future of banking. The gap between the banking and tech worlds is slowly closing, with bank executives choosing to meet up at the startup hubs to find inspiration. In fact, our CEO, Casper von Koskull, paid a visit to The Factory this week.        

The Nordea-Factory partnership has only just begun. The programme for the spring is packed for both the startups and Nordea. Our people will meet the startups as mentors and experts to discuss, challenge and verify their concepts. We can introduce new contacts, open doors and provide data and customers to validate their ideas. We hope to learn from the collaboration and their culture. We also expect to bring to light some of our own weaknesses that we need to work with to accelerate our innovation power. The best outcome of the programme would be the discovery of a new innovative solution that serves the startup, the bank and, most importantly, our customers. 

Previously, we have run our own in-house startup accelerator programmes, and the experience and results are uplifting. Out of the 14 teams that joined our second accelerator programme, we had a continued dialogue with 10 of them. Later on we signed pilot agreements with four of them that now have turned in to a launch of one commercial service. The programme also engaged a few hundred Nordea employees that in some way interacted with the startups as mentors, business partners and experts. Our organisation is moving towards more open collaboration and we will continue exploring partnership opportunities, both in and outside of our home markets. These partnerships are a win-win for all parties – the startups, the bank, and customers. Success depends on the level of engagement invested by the parties. 

So, as you can see, a bank is not so different from a factory. After all, we both deliver 24/7 and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty to move forward fast.  

/Liina Aagedal, Innovation Catalyst in Group Digital at Nordea.
Follow me on Twitter: @LiinaAage

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