It has been almost 6 months since I got on the plane and headed over to Bergen to take on the role as Chief Digital Officer in Skandiabanken. By now, fintech has exploded as a mainstream topic with an increasing level of interest from the general public. As customer expectations intensifies, so does the sense of urgency for banks to actually but those words into action and put their money where their mouths are. So far this year, I have done my part to make that happen.
Leading the way
As a CDO, I am now responsible for both IT, business development and innovation, and this has proven to be both the most challenging thing as well as the most fun time I have had so far in my career. For me it is a rewarding experience to manage digital talent, as well as to create a climate and culture for innovation. While every company is competing to become a tech company, I am lucky to work for a company that was conceived as a tech company. This is reflected in the way we work. Tight collaboration between technical development and business capabilities provide short time to market and high quality deliverables. We are able to release new code and functionality to our customers three times daily at most… so far. This allows us to do more with less, reduce risk and errors as well as shortens overall time to market.
The transition to a more operative role has also given me the opportunity to have my finger on the trigger when it comes to execution, and as a firm believer that execution is everything, I have been trigger-happy.
Acquiring and developing a robo-advisory service
We believe the next fintech revolution will take place in the digital savings and asset management market, and to strengthen our position in this market we acquired a 40 percent stake in the fintech company Quantfolio, where I now serve as chair of the board.
Check out Quantfolio here.
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, we will utilize the competence and expertise 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 partnership with Skandiabanken, and as a stand-alone fintech company.
Shortening time to market
In order to shorten time to market and bring our customers closer to our product development process, we also launched a beta version of Skandiabankens online banking app with Skandiabanken Beta. Here we can show off new features before they are finished and get instant customer feedback on our prototypes.
Skandiabanken Beta was an important asset for us to go from talking about open banking to actually executing on open banking. Together with smart use of open APIs we were able to allow our customers to view their Coinbase account balance directly in their online bank. This functionality only expose the account balance at Coinbase, and trading is not offered by the bank.
Utilizing APIs as a strategic resource in an open banking world
By utilizing the APIs offered by Coinbase this was made possible as an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and is a demonstration of the possibilities within open banking. The ability to collaborate with third parties and view open APIs and third-party data as key resources for new business development will define the future of every industry aspiring to transition from a linear value chain to a digital ecosystem. If developers are the new rock stars, APIs are their instruments.
Capital markets day and beyond
My blog has for a long time acted as a way for me to gain a better understanding on whatever I was working on. This time this has proven to be more difficult, as much of my efforts have been directed at areas we kept strictly confidential prior to Skandiabankes capital markets day where we announced how Skandiabanken will take the next step.
This day was dedicated towards presenting how Skandiabanken will keep the position as the leading challenger in the Norwegian banking market and how this will affect our economic model going forward.
Launching the next generation of SME banking
SMEs are among the underserved customers in a saturated market for financial services. Customer research shows that SMEs are tired of complexity, incomprehensible fees and administrative hassle and 22% of these enterprises are impatient to switch bank today. These SMEs are currently served through scaled-down corporate banking services, where the needs of the smallest SMEs are conceptually closer to retail/consumer banking.
We will offer services that simplify SME banking with a stellar mobile bank with a user-friendly interface and faster transactions, giving our customers the necessary overview to manage their business on the fly. We already have a waiting list. Sign up and be one of the first to get access.
Democratizing wealth creation
Further, on, we will democratize wealth creation through automated personalized financial advice and take a leading position in the market for savings for private individuals. We are going to develop a fully automated savings advisor giving individually adapted savings advice to our customers.
All advice will be based on a low cost principle and will be founded in proven quantitative models. Ethical investments will always be preferred and our customers may adjust everything according to their personal preferences. Our advisor will provide life-cycle advice and offer reallocation and rebalancing of the portfolio profile every 3/6 months.
Our robo-advisor will be developed in collaboration with Quantfolio, and will be launched in the Norwegian market this fall. You can already sign up for the waiting list here.
Fit for purpose
None of this is possible without having a scalable digital platform and an internal culture that is ready to embrace the changing landscape for financial services. We will pursue the upcoming opportunities in the future landscape of financial services by actively evolving our platform towards a digital ecosystem. The future of banking belong to those who have the necessary speed and agility.
Summarized, we will continue to always place the customer first and be dedicated to prioritize what creates customer value. By doing so, we expect to grow in assets under management in both loans, savings and deposits as well as increase our overall customer base.
Now that we have revealed what we intend to achieve, the real work begins …and we are just getting started.
I will not be attending Money 20/20 Europe this year, for those who are there, make sure to catch Quantfolio presenting at the startup pitch.
For my Asian readers, I will see you in South Korea in the end of July where I will give a lecture on the role of technology on increased inequality in developed economies at ICISTS.
By the time this is published, I am hopefully on my way to the hospital to greet my newborn son, and will therefore take a break from everything digital and focus on baby stuff the next couple of weeks. Have a great summer.