Jan Erik Kjerpeseth

CEO, Sparebanken Vest
Chairman of the board, Finance Innovation


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The Norwegian financial services industry is set to undergo major changes. Supply, demand, value chains and business models are being redefined as a result of digitalisation, at the same time as new global players are entering the Norwegian market and looking to challenge our positions. New regulations will strengthen this development.

The challenges facing Norwegian merchant banks are substantial and real. We have seen it before in other industries. In the media industry, Google and Facebook have taken over large parts of the advertising market with new technology that adapts the advertisement to relevant target groups, based on the behaviour of individual users. At the same time, Finn has largely taken over the market, social media like Twitter have established new debate arenas, and Facebook has largely taken over personal data. Several of the same giants have now set their sights on new markets, together with an undercurrent of new players.

The impact of the changes will potentially be even greater for the financial services industry than for the media industry. Editor-in-chief Gard Steiro at VG says that if the media industry was the appetiser, then the financial services industry is the main course. A great deal of evidence suggests that he is right. For example, the PSD2 directive opens up the industry in a whole new way – with consequences that we still do not fully understand.

At the same time, the Norwegian financial services and technology industries have some strong comparative advantages that offer some fantastic opportunities. We have one of the most well-developed financial systems in the world, with a very cost-efficient payment infrastructure, for example. Furthermore, according to a Finnish research report, we are the most digitalised and technologically mature society in the world. We therefore have the world’s best foundation for creating new solutions in the banking and finance sector.

So far, we have not been able to exploit this position. When a German agency unofficially ranked the 450 biggest and most important fintech companies in the world, there were no companies from Norway on the list – and only a few from Scandinavia, with the Swedish company Klarna clearly being the largest. However, the race has barely begun, and the potential is huge.

If we are to be ready to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities, we must collaborate. DNB has commendably accepted the consequence of this by allowing broad ownership in Vipps, and the boards of BankID and BankAxept have also realised this. The merger of these organisations is a smart move to make before global competitors start to arrive in earnest.

However, it should not stop there. Finance Innovation has been established to prepare the groundwork for broad collaboration at the national level to strengthen Norwegian fintech and develop fintech into a new Norwegian export industry. We will accomplish this by working systematically and purposefully to strengthen the ecosystem across cities in close cooperation with other stakeholders with mutual goals.

On the website of Finance Innovation, we have launched a simple vision: “Our goal is to make finance easy and export enabling services and technologies to the world.” Only by focusing and collaborating on this can we ensure that the next Klarna will come from Norway!

Publisher  Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Finance Innovation  Editor  Geir Mikalsen  Editorial staff  Espen Børhaug, Vegard Kolle, Stig Frode Opsvik, Geir Mikalsen  Design  Cox kommunikasjonsbyrå