Unleashing the global potential of Norwegian fintech

The Norwegian fintech scene has grown from a modest infancy to a force to be reckoned with in only a few years. In order to utilize this potential we have decided to establish the association Finance Innovation with the main objective to build a global fintech hub. Behind the inititive is more than 20 key finance and tech companies in Bergen. The cluster will act as a catalyst to launch new initiatives in research, education, innovation infrastructure and internationalization.

The landscape for financial services is changing, and the sum of regulatory changes such as PSD2 and MiFID 2, new technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, changing customer behavior acts as a catalyst for new business models and services in the financial sector. As a result, global investments in fintech between 2010 to 2016 has accumulated to USD 70 billion with an expected return on investment of 20%.

In addition to an already thriving fintech community, the external conditions are provide a favorable breeding ground for digital innovation in the financial sector.

Norway has a highly digital population with an 80 percent smart phone penetration, creating a compelling case for rapid user adoption. Norway is ranked as number one in terms of digital infrastructure and the financial system  is cost-effective, reliable and secure. BankID is wholly owned by the banks and provide a digital identification solution which can identify 3.5 million Norwegians. That means you can carry out secure transactions and enter into and sign binding agreements digital and compliant. As a result, 90 percent of the population use the internet for their banking.

The financial sector in Norway have a proven track record to collaborate to innovate, and this has provided the financial sector a scalable digital banking infrastructure. The cost of providing retail payments are ranked as the third most cost efficient in the world, at 0,49% of GDP. Cross sector collaboration also enables the necessary data exchange to provide fully digitized processes for products such as mortgages as well as automated compliance reporting.

Looking at the Norwegian fintech sector, the trend seem to be following this formula, where a significant amount of fintech companies from Norway are focusing on delivering turnkey solutions to the banking sector. Some notable examples of fintech and bank collaboration originate from the founding members of the fintech cluster.

Skandiabanken has invested in Quantfolio to develop a robo-advisory service. Digital savings and asset management is one of the arenas in which Norwegian fintech companies has a large potential to succeed beyond our national borders, and Skandiabanken aims to  take a part in this. As a major shareholder in Quantfolio Skandiabanken will utilize the competence and know-how that is present in the company as part of our increased focus on long term savings. We will also add required competence and act as a professional financial owner for Quantfolio to succeed both in parthership with Skandiabanken, and as a stand-alone fintech company.

SpareBank 1 SR-Bank has invested in both Boost.AI, a leading company in natural language processing, providing virtual assistants to the financial sector as well as Vester, a marketplace-lending platform for banks. SpareBank 1 SR-Bank is developing a crowdlending platform directed at SMEs in collaboration with Vester.

Nordea is collaborating with fintech-startup, Spiff in order to make savings fun and social.

These are just some examples, and the commonalities is the ambition to benefit from collaboartion with Norwegian banks as a starting point before expanding globally. Other key stakeholders are DNB, Tryg Forsikring, Monobank, Sparebanken Vest, Tripod, Stacc, Knowit and Webstep. Academic partners include NHH Norwegian School of Economics and the University of Bergen.

The possibilities to benefit from the changes ahead are vast, and collaboration is imperative to release the full potential of Norwegian fintech. Establishing a fintech cluster acts as a competitive advantage in order to reach a global scene for all stakeholders, both incumbents and startups. The cluster also benefits strongly from the contribution of strong and dedicated knowledge partners, along with a growing portfolio of private investors. By utilizing strategic resources, a Norwegian fintech cluster has all the prerequisites to become a significant international hub.

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