Nordic countries have always stood out in the hi-tech industry, especially in the field of telecommunications. Sweden, Finland and Denmark are renowned for their highly developed telecommunications equipment and handset manufacturing industries. Global telecom companies like Ericsson (Sweden), Nokia (Finland) are from Nordic countries, also sometimes referred to as Scandinavian countries. The king who inspired the name, Bluetooth, was also from the same region. Nordic telecommunications equipment/device manufacturers became global market leaders by the 1990s. As early as 2000, they were experimenting with services built on top of telecom networks, and payments was one such area.
So there should be no surprise now that the benchmarks for mobile payment adoption actually come from that region. One of the main contributors to the rise of mobile payments in these countries is the increase in mobile penetration and mobile Internet penetration. Of course, the relevant backdrop is the high per capita income and investments in R&D made by public units, the private sector as well as academia.
Here are some FinTech startups from this region of the world:
Founded in 2001 and active in 35 countries, Seamless handles more than 3.7 billion transactions annually through 575,000 active sales outlets. About 6,200 merchants have chosen SEQR including the largest grocery chains, fast food chains and national retailer chains in the markets where SEQR is established. Currently, SEQR is established in Sweden, Finland, Romania, Belgium, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the UK and the US.
SEQR’s unique transaction platform has been developed by Seamless, one of the world’s largest suppliers of payment systems for mobile phones. SEQR is Europe’s most-used mobile payment solution in stores and online. SEQR enables anybody with a smartphone to pay in stores, at restaurants, parking lots and online, transfer money at no charge, connect loyalty programs, store receipts digitally and receive offers and promotions directly through one mobile app.
Founded in Stockholm in 2005, Klarna is one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies offering safe and easy-to-use payment solutions to e-stores. Valued at about $1.4 billion in 2014 when it raised roughly $100 million from existing investors, Klarna has nearly doubled its valuation in is 2015 funding round by reaching $2.25 billion.
According to the official website, Klarna is active in 18 European markets where it serves 35 million customers and increases conversions of 50,000 merchants by 25%. Some of the major international clients of the company are Spotify, Disney, Samsung, Wish, Adlibris, Fitnessguru and ASOS. Klarna states that its goal is “to become the world’s favorite way to buy.”
Founded in 2014, Lendify offer the first real P2P lending platform in Sweden. The company operates a marketplace online credit platform that enables people to borrow money and lend money from each other—without the involvement of banks or credit card companies. By cutting out the middlemen and bypassing many of the traditional banking costs Lendify is able to provide great rates for borrowers and attractive returns for investors. Until now, the company has raised $3.08 million.
Launched in 2013 by Andreas Christensen and Asger Trier, Lendino is a marketplace lender for loans to SMEs in Scandinavia ranging from $20K-2M USD. Lendino was the first platform to obtain a payment institute license to operate in Scandinavia. Lendino is a supplement to the banks and has already established partnerships with the established sector. Recently, the company has raised an undisclosed amount of funds. The four investors involved are Stefan Glanzer, Robert Dighero, Mark Dighero and Steffen Thilsted. Asger Trier Bing revealed that the money will be used at the establishment in Denmark and primarily on marketing efforts. Moreover, the money will also be used for the expansion to the rest of the Nordic region.
Fixura allows individuals to lend and borrow money amongst each other without going through a traditional financial intermediary such as banks or other traditional financial institutions. Fixura liaises between individual lenders and borrowers and offers a unique IT-platform over which transactions are easily made. Individuals who are interested in a better yield on their savings than what banks can offer can lend out money to other individuals.
Established in 2010, Fixura has more than 50,000 registered users today and therefore the company is the largest P2P lender in Nordic countries. Fixura investors receive an annual return of 10% on average.
Holvi, founded in Helsinki in 2011, is conquering the European banking landscape and reshaping financial technology services. The core of Holvi’s service is the current account which is built for managing a business. The accounts are easy to open and use. They have basic SME tools built-in, including an online shop, an invoicing tool and financial reporting features.
Users can associate multiple accounts to their profile, allowing you to see the status of your finances at a glance. It allows users to manage invoices and run an online shop in a single, integrated platform.
Coinify is one of the leading players in Europe in the digital currency market, and is backed by a multimillion capital injection by SEED Capital (the Danish Government). Coinify has also received seed investment from Scandinavia's leading startup accelerator, Accelerace, to ensure making the most of its potential nationally and internationally.
Coinify is the largest European digital currency payments company with about 10,000 merchants on its books and tie-ups with 12 payment service providers, most of them also processing credit card payments.
FundedByMe is a crowdfunding company in Nordic countries with 86% of the market; it operates globally with an Asian branch. The company offers reward, equity and loan-based crowdfunding. FundedByMe states it already has over 58,000 global users and has raised over $18 million for “hundreds” of companies.
Founded in July 2013 Safello set out to bring greater compliance and security to the bitcoin industry. Its user-friendly approach has since attracted tens of thousands of customers throughout Europe with an easy way to get into bitcoin. Today, Safello supports 32 countries in Europe with direct payments and other payments such as SEPA, Faster Payments, Bankgiro, Swish and International Wire. With tens of millions of SEK, Euro and GBP in and out of bitcoin processed, Safello is leading the cryptocurrency revolution in Europe.
Sweden-based BehavioSec Inc. focuses on a different aspect of security. The company represents an interesting combination of behavioral science, math and technology. BehavioSec transforms behavior into a transparent additional level of security by monitoring the way users interact with their devices in real time. The interaction pattern is contextualized. Technology can recognize if a conflicting user is operating a device by monitoring the environment, rhythms and interactions patterns that are unique to a particular user. The technology is currently deployed at over 20 retail banks protecting over 11 million users and over 500 million transactions per year. The level of accuracy is 99.7%. Till now the company has raised $8.19M.
Trustly is a technology company which develops and sells online payment solutions. For consumers, Trustly enables secure online payments and direct bank payments. The risk of errors and mistakes are minimal. It is as secure as everything else you do via Internet banking; you never have to disclose information that could be misused by third parties. All that is required to use Trustly is a bank account.
Trustly makes it easy for merchants to get paid online. Trustly removes unnecessary middlemen, and merchants can sell to consumers regardless of what bank they have. In comparison to credit card payments, transaction costs are low and easy to understand and predict. Until now, the company has raised $28.75M.
Meniga is the European market leader of white label personal finance management (PFM) and next-generation online banking solutions. Its software reaches over 25 million online banking customers across 16 markets.
Meniga’s award-winning solutions help retail banks across the world dramatically improve their online and mobile banking user experience. Meniga helps millions of people think about and engage with their finances by providing data-driven PFM solutions. Through Meniga’s PFM-driven marketing, consumers, banks and merchants engage with highly relevant and contextualized offers from merchants. Meniga was awarded “Best of Show” in 2011, 2013 and 2015 at Finovate Europe, Europe’s most prestigious financial technology conference. Meniga was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in London, UK.
Tink is a mobile app that gives you new insights and fun facts about your money every time you open it. Tink continuously collects, sorts and analyzes everything about your personal finances and delivers a beautifully simple feed so you can see exactly where your money is going. Tink is available for both iOS and Android phones, and was created in Stockholm in 2012 by entrepreneurs Daniel Kjellén and Fredrik Hedberg.
Since the launch in Sweden in 2013, over 300,000 people—more than 3% of Sweden’s entire population—have set up a Tink account. Until now, the company has raised $4M.
MeaWallet provides secure and cost-effective mobile wallet solutions. Through MeaWallet, the company focuses on the entire ecosystem—financial institutions, IT/security solution providers, payment schemes, acquirers and more. Other B2B companies use the company’s mobile wallet turnkey solution or a white label mobile wallet and the company handles the entire lifecycle, including security. MeaWallet provides support for different kinds of cards: loyalty cards, identification papers, tickets, access cards, payment cards, etc.