Ahead of our NextGen Nordics conference on 27th April 2022, we will be putting together a weekly briefing of selected top stories that are emerging out of the region and setting the blueprint for payments innovation across Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
NextGen Nordics will bring together multiple stakeholders - the banking community, central banks, public authorities and trade and business beneficiaries - to generate community discussion, explore the benefits and offer practical advice on activating the opportunities of new technologies in the Nordic region. Register for the event here.
Intergiro announces banking app for Ukrainian refugees
Swedish based company Intergiro announced that the company Incharge, built to use Intergiro’s Banking as a Service solution Intergiro.3d, has created a banking services app specifically to aid Ukrainian refugees.
The app offers free banking services and physical or virtual debit cards to all Ukrainian nationals fleeing the country following the Russian invasion.
Nick Root, Intergiro CEO, told Finextra that these refugees can “get a EUR bank account in minutes, without being European (EEA) and having an EU ID that can be used to receive EUR, trade, and hold a stable currency and pay for stuff. All essential things as they start their new lives.”
Intergiro reports that the app will offer a Euro account and a Visa Debit card. They have included features such as instant top ups and a phone number payment reference system to pay other app holders instantly and free of charge. In addition to Apple and Android apps, there is also a web app version.
Root added: “Could there be a better and more meaningful showcase for embedded finance and technology in general? A fully functioning banking services app, built, tested and deployed in less than four weeks, utilising open-source testing and a volunteer support team on Telegram, to help people in desperate need. The refugees need our help, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to support them.”
The company notes that both Intergiro and Incharge have Ukrainian colleagues amongst their teams, which brought additional sentiment and reason to provide a product to support the Ukrainian people.
Enrique Espinosa, Incharge director, also explained that the "conflict in Ukraine has forced many people to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries. We want to help these people by offering them free account services, which will make it easier for them to access their money and get by in these difficult times.”
Pointing out this is merely an initial step, Root commented: “It's worth noting that as these refugees find homes and jobs and generally settle in the EU, we fully expect them open other more comprehensive bank accounts for their needs. We created this service as fast as possible to help them transition to normal life.”
E-krona could be integrated into banks' existing systems - Riksbank
It should be possible to integrate an e-krona into banks’ and payment service providers’ own existing systems, Sweden's central bank has concluded following research into CBDCs.
Earlier this year, the bank concluded Phase 2 technical trials, which investigated how banks and other payment service providers could be integrated into an e-krona network and whether and how an e-krona might function offline.
The tests have also shown that it would be possible to make transactions using e-krona offline, although this would entail some risks.
On the legal front, the central bank has concluded that an e-krona would be regarded as an electronic form of cash.
Phase 3 of the project is now underway, although the Riksbank still insists that no decision has been made on whether to issue an e-krona or what technical or legal framework it would it entail.
In a separate notice, the bank has warned the public not be tricked by claims on social media and websites that it is already selling e-kronas.
Klarna plans to rival Big Tech with PriceRunner acquisition
Klarna plans to take on Amazon, Google and Facebook as a viable alternative market for online merchants following the completion of its $1 billion deal to acquire comparison shopping service PriceRunner.
PriceRunner will bring new features in the form of product reviews, product discovery and price comparisons to the Klarna app, while providing merchant partners with behavioural insights and marketing opportunities to increase Website traffic.
With businesses in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom, PriceRunner compares 3.4 million products from 22,500 retailers in 25 countries. During the 12-month period ending on Sep 30, 2021, the firm had revenues amounting to SEK460 million and an adjusted EBITDA margin of 52%.
The acquisition is part of an attempt by Klarna to embed itself into all aspects of the consumer shopping journey, from inspiration and product selection, to flexible payments and delivery, tracking and returns.
David Fock, Klarna’s chief product officer commented: “The acquisition will serve to strengthen our consumer offering and that Klarna will not be a marketplace but a viable and competitive alternative for retail partners vs Amazon, Google and Facebook. Klarna and PriceRunner are united in our fundamental belief that tech companies, no matter where they operate, compete on the basis of their own merit with the best products and services to gain consumers’ trust.”
Upon closure, PriceRunner's 200+ employees in Sweden, Denmark and Norway will be assimilated into Klarna's 5000+-strong worldwide team.
Brite rolls out 'Single Sign' for A2A instant payments
Stockholm-based Brite Payments launched its one-step solution for instant banking ‘Single Sign’. Based on the Open Banking framework, the Brite Payments solution facilitates account-to-account payments, without the need to input card or personal data.
This will allow customers to pay straight from their bank account with only one authentication step, except for those cases where additional verification is required by the applicable regulation.
Brite ‘Single Sign’ is currently available for the majority of customers in the company’s core markets: Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Estonia.