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Norwegian bank exports personal finance app to Japan

Source: SpareBank 1 Østlandet.

SpareBank 1 Østlandet’s AR app, designed to improve young people’s understanding of personal finances, has been a great success.

The solution is now being exported to schools in high-tech Japan.

The app was launched in 2018 to supplement the bank’s personal finances training for young people in schools. It has been very well received by both pupils and teachers, and has also been noticed outside Norway’s borders. Interest in the app has grown to the point where Japanese schools also want to start using it.

“It’s exciting that technology developed in the town of Hamar (Norway) has garnered so much attention. It’s not every day that Norwegian technology is exported to tech-heavy Japan. We aim to be an innovative bank and this is a confirmation that we succeed in this,” says Christian Fjestad, head of innovation in SpareBank 1 Østlandet.

In partnership with EON Reality

The renowned company EON Reality Norway has been SpareBank 1 Østlandet’s technology and development partner on the app. They will be responsible for the actual distribution in Japan through an agreement with the company AVR Japan.

“The app will be launched for Japanese schools in October. Even though Japan is a high-tech nation, its school system still predominantly uses traditional teaching methods. This app will therefore be an innovative and exciting supplement for Japanese pupils and teachers. We are really looking forward to it and are very excited about how it will be received,” says Knut Henrik Aas of EON Reality Norway.

Using both AR technology and gamification

Thousands of children and young people in schools, clubs and associations in Eastern Norway have used the app. It is an important part of the bank’s sustainability work, where one of the goals is to help children and young people become better equipped to manage their personal finances as they get older. The app’s use of augmented reality (AR) technology and elements from the world of games (gamification) gives young people an inspiring insight into subjects such as choice of career and pay, budgeting, spending and savings.

“The feedback from schools and users has been exclusively positive. They report that it is a fun and engaging way to learn about a subject that can initially seem boring for some. That is a very appreciated feedback. Teaching good financial habits to young people is a part of our social mission,” says Fjestad.

Finance Norway: the Norwegian financial industry is among the best in the world

Technology development is very important for the Norwegian financial services and banking industry, and the Norwegian financial services industry has long been one of the world’s leaders within digitalisation, efficiency and innovative solutions. That development has continued tirelessly since the 1980s when machine reading was introduced for giros,” says Tom Staavi, the director of information in the industry organisation, Finance Norway.

“The financial services industry has, together with the public sector, also made it much easier to share information in a safe and secure manner that saves society billions of Norwegian kroner every year. The much discussed PSD2 directive has accelerated the banks’ innovation work and made banking even easier for customers,” says Staavi.

Staavi is pleased, but not surprised, that technology developed by Norwegian banks and insurance companies is starting to win a market outside Norway.

“Vipps is one example that has expressed international ambitions and the AR app is another. Obviously, the fact that a tech-heavy country like Japan is adopting technology developed in Hamar is a feather in SpareBank 1 Østlandet’s cap. It shows that with good ideas and in-depth expertise, you can develop digital services of great value to users outside Norway as well. Sparebank 1 Østlandet has proved that the distance between Hamar and Tokyo is not that great in cyberspace,” concludes Staavi.


What is AR?

Augmented reality is a technology that combines data from the physical world with virtual data, for example by using graphics and audio. The user is presented with an extra layer of information. The extra information will typically not replace reality but expand it in one or more ways. 

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