“It is no longer a matter of why but how!” (Implement Consulting Group & Copenhagen Fintech, 2020). Looking at the world’s state inevitably leads to the conclusion that sustainability needs to be our collective focal point going forward. As global citizens, we need to seriously commit to accomplishing the seventeen United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This requires changing deep-seated behavioral patterns, establishing equal rights, and promoting inclusion. To investigate which role Nordic fintech plays in this endeavor and how the established financial sector contributes, Copenhagen Fintech, together with Implement Consulting Group, released the report Deciphering the Nordic Impact Map.
The Nordics – A historic stronghold of sustainability
Historically, the Nordic countries pride themselves on emphasizing sustainability and following a human-centric design ethos. In 2015, when 191 countries committed to fulfilling the UN’s SDG by 2030, the Nordic governments pledged to become the most sustainable region in the world by 2030. Consequently, more and more established businesses are anchoring sustainability in their core business areas. However, achieving such an ambitious objective also calls for a plentitude of new solutions and innovation. This is where the booming Nordic Fintech landscape comes into play. To date, there are more than 200 fintechs in the Nordics aiming to shape our present for a new, more sustainable tomorrow.
Fintech-incumbent partnerships as a catalyst for change
The key to unlocking the full potential of these efforts lies in building bridges between the incumbents of the financial sector and new market players ready for change. Looking at partnerships between fintechs and established industry players through a sustainability lens opens up for identifying a new dimension of change and possible drivers of success. To encompass this, Copenhagen Fintech and Implement have divided the report into two parts. First, they explore the State of sustainability in the financial sector through interviews with financial institutions across the Nordics, conducted by Implement. In the second part, The Nordic fintech impact mapping 2020, Copenhagen Fintech, together with other Nordic fintech cluster organizations from Iceland (The Fintech Cluster), Sweden (Findec), Finland (Helsinki Fintech Farm), and Norway (Finance Innovation and The Factory) maps out the 200+ new solutions in the Nordic fintech space, categorizing and matching them to the related SDG. Mapping out the impact fintech landscape across the Nordics is vital in keeping track of the vast developments in this area, as well as in assessing which impact fintech sub-groups have already gained more traction than others and which ones require more support. It can also foster cross-SDG collaboration by providing the numerous industry stakeholders with a status-quo overview of emerging solutions.
Through the data analyzed in the Deciphering the Nordic Impact Map report, it becomes evident that fintech-incumbent partnerships bear enormous potential. However, there is also more alignment needed between both parties of such agreements. In particular, most incumbents currently focus on elevating outside pressure from consumers and legislators regarding reducing their climate impact through more sustainable financing and investment practices. Such efforts are mainly addressed by three of the five identified impact fintech categories: Energy and Climate, ESG Data, and Financing Impact. While these categories are undoubtedly important, there is also significant unexhausted potential for partnerships in the other two categories: Anti Corruption and Crime Prevention, as well as Financial Inclusion, that require more attention from established industry players.
In short, fintechs, incumbents, and specifically their partnerships play an integral role in the sustainable transition. “Working together may strengthen the entire financial system to design and discover new tools that will help solve material issues at business, industry and societal level” (Implement Consulting Group & Copenhagen Fintech, 2020). One of Copenhagen Fintech’s initiatives to foster such partnerships is the collaboration with Lighthouse MASSIV, a partnership-focused accelerator. Together they launched a program centered around ‘Commercializing Impact’ where fintech meets sustainability.
Taking Nordic ambitions abroad
However, such partnerships are, of course, not only important on a regional Nordic level. Copenhagen Fintech is convinced that the cross-regional exchange of technology and innovation is the key to accelerating towards a more sustainable future. Fintech plays a crucial role in the sustainability transformation, and Copenhagen Fintech is working on paving the way for those solutions to scale. This is why Copenhagen Fintech has partnered with UNDP to establish the Copenhagen Fintech Impact Partnership Program. The program aims to bridge the stronghold of Nordic fintech startups, with scaling opportunities from the global and regional partners – Citi and DBS Bank – with local presence in the ASEAN region. Four Nordic fintechs have been selected to join the program so far: Earthbanc, Matter, agroclimatica, and Normative.io. The four companies will be working together with the partners to rapidly identify and prototype potential commercial and sustainable partnerships in the region.
Connecting to heighten our impact
Copenhagen Fintech is also affiliated with the German non-profit organization Leaders for Climate Action, which builds a community consisting of 1200+ companies, entrepreneurs, and executives that have pledged to take action to create a more sustainable economy. We have been invited to join their circle because of our mission to accelerate climate impact and green fintech cross borders, map and incubate impact startups, cooperate with Danish universities to investigate how tech can accelerate a sustainable future, and host the CO2-neutral Copenhagen Fintech Week conference. Copenhagen fintech states: “We are painfully aware that our own impact is tiny if we walk alone and that there are many things we can improve on – so follow us when we say, less talking – more action”.