By Millennials, For Millennials – No Banking Experience Necessary

If you’re not a Danish person aged 24-29 you might not have heard of a cheeky upstart bank that’s decided to ignore banking convention and set up a narrowly focused smartphone bank – introducing Lunar Way. Being an app-based bank might be nothing particularly new, brands such as Monzo, Revolut and N26 all work on a similar model. However the approach and focus for Lunar Way is indeed specific and targeted in a different way.

The bank where bankers need not apply

Founded by an entrepreneur with absolutely no banking experience – Ken Villum Klausen – Lunar Way was born from the insight that incumbent banks were simply not meeting the needs for the under 30 year-old Danish consumers.

The banking industry, is stuck with old systems and bureaucracy. Just offering internet banking or a mobile app for a current account is not sufficient to face emerging challenges. That is why Lunar Way has no physical banks and no personal finance advisors. Instead, our offices are filled people skilled in tech, business development, design, marketing, communication and support.

Whereas many other neo-bank’s have sought their own banking licence to operate – Ken decided to bypass it completely, using minority stakeholder (and Nordic incumbent bank, NyKredit) to manage the financial compliance. Meanwhile Lunar Way focused on user experience and building a user base of like-minded users. This allowed him to build a team with a different culture and mindset from a normal bank start-up.

We offer a solution that makes handling all of your finances very accessible and hands-on – giving you the opportunity almost to let your money manage itself – and our design and visuals are build as gamification of your finances, making it fun and motivating to get a balanced economy. So in our opinion, our design and the connectedness of our functionalities also sets us apart. 

Aiming for the stars… from a small city in Jutland (erm, where is that, exactly?)

Revolutions start in unusual places and for Lunar Way, that place is Aahus, a city of 350,000 people in the far north of Denmark. Far from the traditional Fintech hubs of London, Berlin and even Danish capital Copenhagen – the team at Lunar Way see this is part of the reason why they’ve built such a powerful internal culture and look at things differently.

Aarhus is a university city and several large companies such as Google and Uber have also chosen Aarhus for it’s recruiting opportunities, so that makes it an excellent base for a tech company. Lunar Way has a strong internal culture – our way of life – that we created when we were just a handful of people, trying to change the way people do banking. That is still our goal, but there is a big difference to the everyday workings of a start-up with just a handful of employees and more than 60 colleagues that work in offices located in opposite parts of Denmark. We still want to keep that entrepreneurial and agile spirit, even though we are growing and evolving, and that will be a great challenge in the coming years.

It’s all about the app – giving people what they want, not what you want them to want!

Because they don’t have to worry about an existing user base, Lunar Way have created a brand exactly in the image of the audience they were targeting – younger financially independent Danes that are interested in visually aesthetic apps, clear simple interfaces and absolute transparency over their finances. Complex products are ignored and simple, relevant products like a currency fee-free Mastercard are offered. Navigating the Lunar Way app is a slick, smooth experience with the focus on a small number of highly intuitive features, rather than an existing bank account that’s been converted into a poorly performing digital adaptation. The team claim to have 85% of its users following the company on Snapchat – not the typical communication channel for a bank.

With our app, users can efficiently manage their economy in their everyday lives, on vacation and in their business. Lunar Way is based on users’ lives and needs and therefore has a living community with more than 555 Danish users who contribute with wishes, advice for improvements and beta tests Lunar Way’s products. Their contributions are also taken into account when we develop new products and update and adjust existing features so that products always provide the most value to users.

The Viking Invasion – Starting in Sweden (for now…)

With competition in the neo banking space intense on one side, but a relatively small market (Denmark) on the other, Lunar Way have decided that international growth should be gradual, and with a Nordic focus for now. It’s where the team see their brand having most relevance.

Lunar Way is a Nordic player, and our ambition has always been to be the leading Nordic fintech company. The Danish, Norwegian and Swedish populations largely share the same values, a way of life and economy. The Lunar Way products are built for Nordic users, and we believe that our regional yet local focus is to our advantage. We have already launched our Swedish community, and we expect to launch our beta app in Sweden in November/December. Soon Norway will follow, and we plan to do a full Nordic launch sometime at the end of 2018, or the beginning of 2019 at the latest.

So for now, the rest of European banking can breathe easy… at least for 1 more year the digital longships are staying in local waters. But come 2020, prepare for the invasion!

The author of this article, Martin Best is the Managing Director of the agency Full Reach. Martin is a London-based global Fintech expert, and was previously Head of Brand Marketing, EMEA Marketing and Global Marketing Partnerships for Fintech superstar WorldRemit, where he delivered the global campaigns ‘Money in Safe Hands (2016) and A better way to send money (2017). In 2018 Martin supported WorldRemit’s expansion of mobile wallet services in Africa. Martin has an international career spanning several countries including Director of Marketing for Carlsberg Group in SE Europe, and several senior Director positions in Russia, Asia and Scandinavia.