Steeped in myth and mystery, the Northern Lights are a wonder that wows children and grownups alike. Those famous green hues of the Aurora Borealis signal the uniqueness of a region where people are renowned for doing things differently.
But there’s also another beacon of fascination emanating out of the Arctic Circle: the fintech innovation of the Scandinavian countries.
And on that topic, we’ll be joining the Fintech Talents Virtual Nordics event on October 14 to shed some light on this awe-inspiring part of the world. In the process, we hope to better understand its approaches to delivering modern payments solutions.
There are bound to be some big questions, such as are Scandinavian fintechs and banks better at collaborating than in other parts of the world, will the Nordic nations be first in Europe to achieve cashless society status, and is Open Banking making better progress in the north?
We’re also particularly interested in one of the event’s major themes, innovation at work, which explores the idea that innovation is about changing business, supporting society and responding to customers.
Indeed, meeting rapidly evolving customer needs is one of the major driving forces of fintech innovation in the UK but how many of us think about the way in which our propositions might ‘support society’? And is this a uniquely Nordic approach to doing business?
It’s certainly something which is demonstrated in the P27 initiative. Due to launch in 2021, the scheme is funded by six banks and aims to create a single open-access payments infrastructure across the Nordics for their 27 million inhabitants.
The region is also envied for the fact that its banking culture is highly digital and many commentators say Scandinavia is leading Europe’s drive to deliver a truly open financial ecosystem.
This has been backed up by research amongst financial institutions, which appears to demonstrate that not only are banks merely aiming to comply with PSD2 but are building interfaces that deliver better customer experiences. An encouraging 83% of respondents in the study by Nordic API Gateway felt that Open Banking was a positive opportunity for their businesses.
Perhaps, then, the emphasis on delivering for society as a whole is a key ingredient in fintech success. We wouldn’t argue against that and if anything it should compel us to intensify our work to educate society about the benefits of digital payments solutions.
For businesses and consumers alike, the ability to offer things like real-time, point of sale funding on to a card, use data to make products more personalised, and remove time-consuming manual processes such as visiting a bank branch present genuine opportunities to live our lives differently.
Digital card programmes also make it easier to support good causes by tying transactions to ethical actions such as tree planting and donations to life-changing charities. By removing costs from the process, it means more funds go to the intended cause.
It all points to the fact that sustainability needn’t get in the way of running a sustainable business. And a number of big names have proved it’s possible to succeed in the land of ice and snow, with Skype, Spotify and Rovio, in addition to Klarna, iZettle and Holvi achieving household name status across the globe.
It seems then, as far as digital innovators are concerned, the Nordics are a land of opportunity. As a sponsor of the event, we’re looking forward to learning more about the approaches Scandinavian innovators take as they shine a northern light for fintech excellence across Europe and beyond.
If you’re going to Virtual Nordics, do say hello, hallo or hallå. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the learnings we might take from this exciting event which could be of benefit to societies across Europe.