Every year thousands of tech heads, investors and corporate executives come from all corners of the globe to gather in Helsinki. Slush, the biggest entrepreneurship and innovation event in Northern Europe, is a place to get a glimpse of the future and challenge your everyday thinking. The innovative and progressive environment is the reason why we at BearingPoint are actively taking part in Slush and, in this blog, look into the future of open banking.

Why focus on banking? The financial sector has seen a lot of innovation lately and we strongly believe it to continue, and for this reason we have organized a banking specific track for three years running at Slush. This time the focus was on collaboration between banks and Fintechs. Among other things, we organized a keynote, a pitching session and networking events around the topic.

BearingPoint at Slush 2018

Fintech and Big Finance: Clashing cultures or a winning mixture’ keynote session

2019 aims to continue the magnificent pace that 2018 set for Fintech Startups. The Fintech venture capital investments have almost doubled during the past three years, reaching USD 30.8B by the end of 2018, compared to USD 18.3B in 2016 1 . We expect that Fintechs will continue to thrive by focusing on their current strengths i.e. creating innovative tech-enabled services, providing access to underserved demographics and putting consumers at the center of innovation. However, incumbent banks have not been just idly watching the ongoing development. In addition to building-up their in-house capabilities, incumbents have also harnessed external knowledge by partnering with Fintechs. With over 75% Fintechs seeking to collaborate with financial organizations, collaboration is becoming an industry norm nowadays2.

To form a comprehensive view on how the collision of two very different worlds works in practice, we invited an international mix of guests. Ignacio Villoch (BBVA), Gunnar Berger (Nordea) and Kristian Luoma (OP-Ryhmä) represented incumbent views whereas Eugene Danilkis (Mambu) and Ilkka Ruotsila (Deposit Solutions) brought in the Fintech perspective.

What we see is that there are a variety of different ways of executing Fintech ecosystem strategies. Examples of these which have been piloted by Nordea, OP and BBVA in different capacities, include building developer communities, collaboration around specific customer problems and pursuing strategic acquisitions to accelerate the pace of innovation. While there is no one size fits all solution, large financial players seem to agree that the best way forward is based on collaboration, innovation and customer focus.

Example approaches to execute Fintech ecosystem strategies


To operate in the open banking space an incumbent organization needs a permanent curiosity to understand what is coming ahead, what is going to happen next, and being very humble to realize that you don’t have all the answers and talent. Moreover, you have to be humble and open enough to integrate Fintechs in your system

Ignacio Villoch, Open Innovation Ecosystem Builder at BBVA

Fintech pitching session: A quick glance of the newest fintech innovations for banking executives

On the second day of Slush, our financial industry guests had a chance to enjoy pitches of eight fintechs that were handpicked among all participating startups. The companies presented their ideas that among others tackled areas of smart contract signing, P2P lending and impactful investing. The winner was selected with the audience voting and based on the collaboration potential with an incumbent bank.

Useless, the winner of BearingPoint Fintech pitching competition 2018, is a platform for saving, impact investing and sustainable donating. It combines active saving to responsible investments and donations. Useless platform will be launched in 2019 and the goal is to go big and global.

Keeping in mind that the audience consisted of financial industry professionals we can argue that the choice of Useless as a winner also reflects what kind of services the financial sector is seeing meaningful and possibly also seeking to develop in the future. As a winner, Useless will get one week of BearingPoint Digital & Strategy coaching to accelerate their go to market phase. We are excited to collaborate with young sustainably minded entrepreneurs and maximize learnings on both sides.

Why we keep participating Slush year after year?

At BearingPoint, we have seen that taking the time to step out of the daily routines has been a great way for our banking industry customers to get new insights, ideas and accelerate innovation. A real-life example is our collaborative innovation acceleration journey with permanent tsb and we are excited to also help other players across different industries in their Innovation & Ecosystem strategy and journey. 


Antti Maunula and Juha Mertanen, Digital & Strategy, BearingPoint Finland


1 CB Insights and BearingPoint Analysis
2 World Fintech Report 2018