Beware poor-value phone contracts and Netflix subscriptions – these Swede’s are on a mission to kill you off!

Full Reach created the ‘Northern Lights’ series celebrating Nordic Fintech. (Image – an example of the various Fintech firms covered from our Full Reach page.) A common trait seen across the region is how Nordic Fintech finds a niche problem and flips it into a business opportunity that empowers consumers – Minna Technologies is another great example.

Zombie Subscriptions – meet Joakim, he’s your nemesis

Having been stung by an unused subscription and an appalling termination experience, Joakim Sjöblom, (Co-Founder and CEO of Minna Technologies) decided to take action, creating the world’s leading PFM subscription management solution. With an impressive 9m customers using the service and EUR 30m in unwanted cancelled subscriptions, Minna operates a white label product that plugs into existing retail bank offerings seamlessly from an end user perspective.

I’ve had a couple of bad experiences related to subscription payments and subscription management. The second experience was even more annoying and very common – a very bad cancellation experience. These bad experiences, combined with the fact the basically all consumption is moving to subscription-based solutions (you can subscribe to everything from a car to your groceries), triggered the idea. Our software facilitates subscription management in order to help consumers save both time and money, allowing the user to cancel any type of subscription with only 1-click. Moreover, the platform also recommends improvements for utility subscriptions, and helps the user to either switch or negotiate a better deal.

‘4 years ago, retail banks would have thrown us out the window – today it’s a red carpet!’

Collaboration has made the unique business model for Minna possible – providing a white label product to retail banks, rather than an end-user B2C experience. Minna’s collaboration with Swedbank led to an award for the ‘most promising Fintech partnership’ at the 2018 Lendit FinTech Awards. For Joakim, these kinds of partnerships allow Minna to focus on delivering an expert user experience which they can scale to many partners quickly. In doing so they’re solving the ‘innovation challenge’ for big established banks, and giving consumers a better experience via their existing financial service provider.

We have no intention of going B2C since we truly believe that the big banks will survive the digital transformation, and we are part of that journey. Open Banking and the PSD2 directive have had a huge impact on how the incumbent banks look at 3rd party collaboration. It’s a constant battle for a start-up to get distribution, and it’s an even bigger challenge for the incumbents to have a sufficient phase of innovation. Instead of launching a B2C fintech application, we’re building our platform as an integrated solution to retail banks, which is a very new approach. From a consumer perspective, it’s very convenient to have this functionality available from your mobile bank, instead of downloading another app.

Gothen(burg) City – where 120,000 zombie subscriptions have already been killed

Like several Nordic Fintech’s, Minna was established outside of the main Nordic capital cities, and are still based in Gothenburg, western Sweden. With ½ million inhabitants, Joakim has sought to attract a global team to the city.

Being based out of Gothenburg is a benefit compared to fighting with top talents in Stockholm. We are currently 9 different nationalities within the company; having a global mindset for recruitment makes it easier to find the best people within a sustainable cost. It’s a bit harder to find the funding, and a lot of time and money is spent travelling, but it’s a trade-off! I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in the ocean!”.

Swedish startups – they’re ‘born global’

Minna have embraced being a Swedish company from a regional city by collaborating with bigger banks they feel share their values (Swedbank and Danske Bank), as well as thinking globally from the first moment the business was born. Minna also joined Think Forward Initiative’s Accelerator Hub as a way to reach out to a global network.

Swedish tech start-ups are “born global” since our domestic market will never be sufficient for rapid growth. We’ve been speaking English as our main language since day 1 and recruiting globally, that early mindset has proven to be a very big advantage when scaling internationally. Taking part in programs such as the Think Forward Initiative is a great way of connecting to senior stakeholders and decision makers in new markets, and part of our sales and scale-up strategy.

UK & Europe – prepare for ‘de-subscription’ therapy!

Continuously paying poor-value mobile phone contracts and media subscriptions is certainly not only a Swedish phenomenon. With that in mind, Minna see growth opportunities in the ‘near abroad’ of the fellow Nordic nations and wider European region.

A couple of big enablers of Minna’s platform are the access to transaction data and the legal situation regarding digital signatures. These two factors are both addressed by European directives, making continental Europe and the UK as a natural next step. The first new market outside the Nordics will for sure be announced during 2019!

For the millions of us angry enough to hate those direct debits leaving our bank each month but can’t…quite…find…the login details to cancel that zombie that just won’t… die… by… itself… we’ll all be waiting Minna’s arrival with great excitement!

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.