Copenhagen Fintech encourages startups, as well as financial partners, to explore business opportunities outside of their home markets.

Danish ­Fintechs Have Huge, ­Global Opportunities

Although financial ­companies face global competitors, this creates opportunities for ­Danish companies to innovate to stand out.

Gone are the days when brick and mortar savings institutions solved your financial woes. Finance is now a global enterprise. While the internationalisation of the market – and its associated products and services – has undoubtedly benefitted consumers, it has also put pressure on Danish companies to perform. This has, in turn, created new business opportunities.

“I believe that Danish fintech startups have huge opportunities in most places in the world. The standards of financial services in Denmark are generally very high, and consumers are therefore used to relatively high quality in terms of user experience, security, and technology. If new fintech solutions make it in this environment, I think they have the opportunity to make it big everywhere,” explains Simon Schou, chief innovation officer at Copenhagen ­Fintech.

Copenhagen Fintech encourages startups, as well as financial partners, to explore business opportunities outside of their home markets. Of course, this is no easy task. It takes preparation, ambitious long-term market strategies, and resources to execute as needed. However, success stories like Saxo Bank, Simcorp, IBA, and Tradeshift have proven this is possible.

Contrary to a lot of other entrepreneurs, I don’t focus that much on going global
Rune Mai co-founder of Spiir and Nordic API Gateway

First go deep, then go wide

With more than 300.000 users on their budget management app, the Danish fintech Spiir is already successful in Denmark and is now looking to launch in Norway and Sweden later this year.
”Contrary to a lot of other entrepreneurs, I don’t focus that much on going global. I think a lot of the startups focusing globally too soon end up spreading themselves too thin. And to avoid that in a regulated space like finance – even within the EU’s borders – it requires that you do your homework properly. I prefer talking about ’glocal’ – a solution with global potential but local focus,” says Rune Mai co-founder of Spiir and Nordic API Gateway.

As the first Danish account aggregator, Spiir (which launched in 2012) focused on becoming integrated with 95 per cent of Nordic banks to gain a thorough understanding of the market and its users. Mai suggested this helped build the right product as well as a trusted brand before adding jet fuel to expand wider and more rapidly. In his own words, “Long-term, our plan is to become a pan-European platform. With our license as an ‘Account Information Service Provider’ we can scale across Europe – and that makes it easy for us to expand once we’re ready.”

Nordic solutions have pan-European potential

Among the businesses looking for pan-European solutions from bright Nordic startups and scaleups is the Dutch financial giant ING Group. So far, the financial powerhouse has partnered with 150 fintech companies, and attributes its Nordic scaleups to innovative strategies.

Rune Mai co-founder of Spiir and Nordic API Gateway. Photographer: Kasper Løftgaard

“The digitisation of the market in the Nordic region is clearly a little ahead of the pack compared to Southern Europe. It is only attractive for young entrepreneurs to launch a startup if the market is there – and because the market is massively digitised, the fintech solutions mature earlier. This makes it kind of a leading indicator for what is going to happen in other markets,” according to David Rasson, Lead of Innovation for ING Belgium & The Netherlands.

At the same time, Rasson views the Nordic culture as compatible with the Netherlands and Belgium, which makes it easier to strike collaborative and mutually ­beneficial partnerships with Dutch entrepreneurs and corporations. Similar to Belgium and the Netherlands, the startups focus on exports because of their relatively small home market. Compare this with the solutions
developed in larger countries – like Germany and France – which are not necessarily built to scale outside their home markets.

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