More than 20 banks and tech companies in Bergen have aligned to create a fintech hub to push a global innovation agenda amid growing collaboration between banks and startups in Norway.
Members of the association, dubbed Finance Innovation, comprises Skandiabanken, Nordea, DNB, Tryg Forsikring, Monobank, Sparebanken Vest, Tripod, Stacc, Knowit and Webstep. Academic partners include NHH Norwegian School of Economics and the University of Bergen.
The formation of the cluster comes as new regulations, such as PSD2 and MiFID II and advanced technologies in the shape of AI and distributed ledgers act as a catalyst for new business models and services in the financial sector. It also taps into a healthy appetite among Norwegian consumers for new technology, in a country where smartphone penetration is at 80% and 90% of the population use the Internet for banking.
Collaboration between banks and startups is becoming a common fixture of the local fintech scene; examples include Skandiabanken's recent investment in robo-advisor Quantfolio, Sparebank's tie ups with virtual agent startup Boost.AI and online lending platform Vest, and Nordea's work with social savings outfit Spiff.
"The cluster will act as a catalyst to launch new initiatives in research, education, innovation infrastructure and internationalisation," says Christoffer O. Hernæs. chief digital officer in Skandiabanken. "Establishing a fintech cluster acts as a competitive advantage in order to reach a global scene for all stakeholders, both incumbents and startups. The cluster also benefits strongly from the contribution of strong and dedicated knowledge partners, along with a growing portfolio of private investors. By utilising strategic resources, a Norwegian fintech cluster has all the prerequisites to become a significant international hub."