On Thursday February 9th the Norwegian FinTechs gathered together with investors and other interested parties in “OsloFinTech Fest: Future of FinTech & Banking” -event hosted by OsloFinTech and DNB, on estimation crowd of 800 people had arrived to the event. 

This year Magenta Advisory took also part to the event as a spectator to hear what kind of thoughts our Nordic peers have from digital disruption in finance industry. Not surprisingly, the main themes were rather same than at Slush 2016 few months earlier. Cooperation, equity crowdfunding and regulation were some of the hot topics in OsloFinTech Fest. Rapid schedule included presentations, startup pitches and panel discussions – the most interesting highlights are shared below.

“My job at DNB is to make sure the bank survives the disruption by startups"

The show was kick-started by Halvor S. Lande, Head of Innovation at DNB. Besides pointing out his role at the bank, he also stressed the importance of working together with startups instead of seeing them as pure competition.

Ben Brabyn from innovation hub Level39 in Canary Wharf London again stated that now, more than ever, innovation is moving away from individual experts to groups with significantly different competences and that is something that should be embraced. Moreover – the event was closed down by Susanne Chishti, CEO & Founder of FinTech Circle. In her presentation she focused mostly on encouraging Nordic FinTechs and banks work together, with not limiting themselves within their own countries if they want to compete and coopete. The tendency towards increasing cooperation clearly exists.

“We are going to do what Skype did for telecoms”

Next up was an equity crowdfunding session where two Oslo-based FinTech companies were given the chance to pitch to investors (from Business Angel Network Norway and Invesdor) as well as to the audience – with an online poll about interested investors shown live on screen.

Soci80 Bank, presented by Christoffer Andvig, wants to offer fair banking solutions by using biometrics, blockchain and artificial intelligence. To reach their aim – doing what Skype did for telecoms – they are looking to offer reasonable priced money transfers around the globe. Second company pitching was Bitgate, and presentation was given by their CEO Manuel Lains. Bitgate is looking to build a hybrid solution between digitized traditional currencies and bitcoin and other crypto currencies and monetizing with small cut of the transactions– their end game is called “internet of finance”.

These FinTechs were clearly heading towards global markets, as well as were five DNB NXT Accelerator Finalists who were pitching their ideas in the another section of the event, all very interesting from different angles.

  • Quantifio offers a collaborative platform for data science with the notion that the one who brings the ideas in an organization and the one who makes the decisions are rarely the same person. They are looking to do “what aircraft control systems did for aviation”, in other words break down silos between departments and teams in organizations and allow different people to take part in analysis, with holding integrity of data.
  • Prosa on the other hand focuses on increasing efficiency in security. Based on long-term research, they provide highly automated process to set up security requirements as well as analysis of risks and potential threats.
  • Lucidtech relies on artificial intelligence for document analysis. Their primary focus is on receipts and invoices – they are not only frustrating but time consuming in organizations and most of the work can be made simple and easy. “Never send a human to do a machine’s job”
  • Convertelligence believe that instead of having to wait for a cat employee, not to mention email, response customers want instant replies. They want to automate customer conversations and dialogue taking advantage of machine learning and natural language processing.

“Fintech is, by definition, global” – but what are Nordic special characteristics?

Suzanne Hannestad was then given the stage to shed light on current state FinTech disruption.

The Nordic edition of Fintech Mundi’s annual report showed interesting insights on differences between the Nordic countries as well as them against other Europe as “FinTech is by definition global”. Each Nordic country has its own focus areas currently: Denmark on Blockchain, Sweden on payments, Finland on e-invoices and SMEs, and Norway on security. Also a significant rise in the number of incubators in all countries was seen.

Later in the evening, a seven-people investor panel got on stage to discuss FinTech investment trends and share their future predictions.

A rather comprehensive set of Nordic investors was present and the conversation revolved much around usual topics. The areas where they are looking to focus on in the short-term included but not limited to RegTech, Blockchain, Digital Identity companies. Plenty of time was also spent on geography and we heard for example arguments for and against Oslo as a startup hub location. For example, compared to Stockholm and Copenhagen, Oslo was considered to have easier access to facilities, in general lower expense level as well as good availability of skilled people. Another controversial topic was government support; others saw that for example Norwegian government should put exponential effort on small companies whereas others felt that startups do not want the government to meddle at all.

“All technology you need already exists, you just need to look around”

David Birch, introduced as FinTech Guru, was presenting banks today as “too slow, too expensive, too opaque” whereas in the future the most matters being the opposite; “instant, cheap, and transparent”. In the terms of futurology, he stated that in order to anticipate one generation forward one needs to think two generations back, and, in that vein, “all technology you need already exists, you just need to look around”. His final remarks considering interesting business areas of tomorrow were RegTech, digital identity, PSD2, paying on the go, invisible POS.

PSD2, open APIs, artificial intelligence, blockchain, RegTech, crowdfunding…

At the end of the day, all the usual suspects were presented; EU level regulation and PSD2, blockchain, digital identity, artificial intelligence among others. However, there was plenty of talk about what FinTechs want to do and which issues they are focusing on solving but not that much news about how it will actually be accomplished. The latter remains to be seen as FinTech “games” are now going towards who executes the best.

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