The Gateway to the Nordics starts with a Spiir

Unless you have a seriously unnatural interest in banking, data and financial acronyms like PSD2, the idea that a start-up from Denmark might be revolutionising banking with an API Gateway will not immediately make you fall off your chair in excitement. Full Reach as part of its Northern Light series celebrating Nordic Fintech spoke to Rune Mai to find out his vision for open data, Nordic collaboration in banking platforms and how that’s just the first step to European scale-up.

Let’s do the boring B2B bit first – that’s where the sexiness starts

Nordic API Gateway takes the best of the Nordic business approach – embracing collaboration and seeking ways to make business work across several small countries with their own jurisdictions. Collectively, the Nordics make up a decent market of 27 million consumers but individually they would prove a scale-up challenge without taking a regional approach.

Rune Mai is CEO & Co-founder at Nordic API Gateway and its B2C budgeting and savings app, Spiir. The Nordic API Gateway is a B2B service that lets any company build PSD2 services that can allow users to add account information or initiate payments directly from their accounts:

We see this as an acceleration of our vision to help citizens of Europe to get better view and knowledge of their money and spending. Now everyone can innovate and create solutions that are based on financial data.

What’s the point of the Nordic API Gateway?

For banks, fintech companies and other hybrid products, the API Gateway allows them to link multiple products and in turn, allow their customers to access banking services from multiple sources. The API Gateway already has close to 100% coverage in the Nordics and does not discriminate on who can use the platform.

Nordic API Gateway is already serving customers in all Nordic markets. Spiir is being launched in all Nordic markets as we speak. Next step is to expand throughout Europe.

In a game that’s all about speed, Rune hopes that the API Gateway’s openness will allow Nordic companies to build platforms that will springboard international growth.

Spiir: We use behavioural science to do good!

With an impressive c.300k users, Spiir is open to all, but created to help millennials manage their money better. With an easy to use interface split by simple categories, and open access to multiple banks, it can offer a simple way to manage finances, make intelligent spending decisions and control how you spend.

Spiir is a manifestation of what you can build on top of our gateway product. It is a third-party provider app that acts as an overlay banking app where the goal is to address all young people regardless of which bank they have. We firmly believe that we can automate the process of financial awareness by making money and spending fun and engaging. Our goal is to become a pan-European money platform for all young people. We use behavioural science to do good, to nudge young people into a position where they start making choices, because if you make the choice yourself it does not feel like a restriction but as an empowerment.

First Jylland, then Denmark, then the World!

Like Lunar Way, Spiir is another Nordic Fintech that has roots off the beaten track and began in Aarhus, though the team are now split across the world. The Spiir team recognise that recruiting and starting up in Denmark can be off-putting for individuals and businesses alike due to the high social costs funded via taxation. Their solution is to cast the net wide and embrace remote working.

It is hard to attract talent internationally, and it requires a lot of capital to start in DK. Aarhus is much cheaper in terms of rent and basic costs. We can attract talents in the two major cities of Denmark – that gives us edge. We also have a strong remote culture which allows us to attract people all over the country and internationally.

Old school banks: part of the new school Fintech world

The Nordic collaboration culture has arguably seen more interaction between existing players and new Fintech stars than say London or the US, where VC is often the preferred vehicle for funding growth. Rune cites Danske Bank as an example of that culture.

It is very important, we are building an infrastructure and need strong players to help us. Danske Bank has been a tremendous partner in that regard. We share the same vision of how PSD2 will play out and act together along that path. If it was a necessary evil I would have said no and just gone after VC money instead. We will see many traditional players team up with fintech to achieve synergetic effects.

 

 

Like many other scaling Nordic Fintech businesses, Spiir is presently focused on its domestic market, but it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ it will soon be seen on the smartphones of young Europeans across the continent.

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.