Will invest
NOK 250 million
in fintech

To stimulate ground-breaking innovation, SpareBank 1 SR-Bank has established a separate company that will invest in fintech. ?

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The ambition of Thor-Christian Haugland from SpareBank 1 SR-Bank is to create at least ten successful companies in the course of seven years.

“For a period of time we tried to drive our innovation through our own SR Lab, but we see that there are limitations with regard to innovative processes within the existing structures. Therefore, we are establishing a company that will challenge the inherent preservation aspects of bank culture,” says communications director Thor-Christian Haugland of SpareBank 1 SR-Bank

FinStart Nordic is the name of the company that will invest NOK 250 million in ideas, entrepreneurs and startups. The company will have eight employees, in addition to a significant network that will be a resource pool to drive ideas into becoming scalable companies.

“Initially, we will be a majority owner and share ownership with the founders in the new companies under FinStart Nordic’s umbrella, but we will keep all opportunities open for partnerships, share offerings and exit solutions for companies that are scalable for larger markets,” says Haugland.

Organised without bankers
FinStart Nordic will work with fintech ideas in the broadest sense, regardless of whether they are services that can solve SR-Bank’s own needs or not. 

“We do not know what can be defined as fintech in two years’ time. FinStart Nordic should contribute to shaping the financial services industry of the future, and should therefore be organised without bankers. We are looking for completely new technology, new ways to engage in banking, and completely new types of ecosystems to connect with fintech,” says the Haugland.

SR-Bank has already invested in two companies: Monner and Boost AI. Since FinStart Nordic has became known, there has been a solid flow of enquiries.

“There is a great number of enquiries from entrepreneurs and startups, and it will be very difficult for those who have good ideas to make the cut. A lot of exciting things are happening on the technology front and considerably more than we had envisioned,” says Haugland.

Targeting the Nordic Region
As the name of the new company suggests, it aims to operate in the entire Nordic Region.

“Stavanger is like a small bowl of water in a fintech context. We must identify the best ideas in the Nordic Region if we are to create innovation and disruption,” says Haugland.

FinStart Nordic’s ambition is to create at least ten successful companies during a period of seven years. At least one of the companies should be of a significant size with revenues of at least NOK 200 million. The required rate of return for the overall investments by FinStart Nordic is a minimum of ten percent.

Facts / SpareBank 1 SR-Bank

  • Leading merchant bank in Southern and Western Norway with offices from Grimstad to Bergen.
  • 1,150 employees and 38 offices, including subsidiaries.
  • Head office is in Stavanger.

SpareBank 1 SR-Bank has invested in two fintech companies before establishing FinStart Nordic.

  •  Monner is a loan brokering platform that will connect depositors with SR-Bank and other banks with SMEs with lower capital needs. SMEs can borrow money directly from one of their own customers through a lending platform that conducts a solid credit assessment of the small investors. SR-Bank has an ownership interest of 34 per cent in the company.
  • Boost AI has developed a chatbot that understands the intentions of those seeking advice, regardless of how well formulated the questions are. The chatbot is about to be implemented by all the major Nordic banks and several Norwegian banks. The chatbot operates as a customer advisor and is under development to becoming the first virtual advisor that will also perform specific tasks. SR-Bank has an ownership interest of 22 per cent in the company.