Looking forward to 2024, Finextra spoke to CEO of Nordic challenger bank Lunar, Ken Villum Klausen to examine plans for the digital challenger banks continuing success.
Lunar recently received a banking license issued by the Danish FSA, which was the first independent banking license issued in over ten years. Catapulting off this achievement, Klausen expects Lunar to expand beyond Scandinavia in early 2024 to Finland. By starting in Finland, Lunar will seize the opportunity to expand into the Eurozone and take advantage of the prospects presented by having a large presence in the country.
“We want to be the predominant newcomer in each market before we expand to other territories. When we are launching in Finland, we want to create a massive presence there. We want to be a significant player before we expand to other countries. We are not just putting flags out there, we actually want to conquer the territories that we are opening in,” says Klausen.
On top of their plans for expansion, Klausen states that there are several features in the works set to go live next year. As the Nordic banking system is an oligopoly, it can be complex to get global financial institutions to access the system, he explains, so Lunar is currently working with other fintechs and banks so that Lunar can gain access the Nordic banking system. Klausen adds that they are offering their services to Trustly, which now has access to Danish banking accounts and payments.
He continues that Lunar is developing a financial copilot that is working on AI initiatives currently in the beta stage, which are likely to be launched in 2024.
Klausen explains that what sets Lunar apart from other digital challenger banks is the territory: “The Nordics is not only the most profitable banking landscape on the planet, it also has less competition from outsiders. We don't have numerous other challengers in the Nordics, as a pan-Nordic challenger, there is only us. The difference is that it is a really profitable landscape, it has less competition. However, on the flip side, the incumbents in the Nordics are doing an amazing job, they have great digital capabilities, therefore competing with incumbents in the Nordics is fierce. It's a bit of a schizophrenic landscape.”
When asked about the buzz around an acquisition by or collaboration with Monzo, Klausen dismisses the rumours and comments that there is always an ongoing dialogue between European challenger banks.
Discussing the tumultuous technology and finance landscape recently, Klausen remarks that it might continue into the next year:
“It's been a couple of eventful years to be operating challenger banks. Inflation, recession, and interest rates have changed the business model, but I think for the first time in many years, it really pays off being a bank. You can monetise on deposits right now, where a lot of other fintech companies might be struggling in the current market environment. Also with the landscape of financing changing dramatically, it actually works in our favour, and I think that that tendency will continue a long way to 2024.”