Susanne Hannestad: Fintech expansion beyond the Nordic borders

Susanne Hannestad, CEO of Fintech Mundi, a global fintech accelerator, spoke with ARYZE about market expansion opportunities for fintech and the significance of the Nordic payments space.

With drive and excitement, Susanne Hannestad helps Nordic and Baltic companies scale globally. Getting to work with passionate, knowledgeable, and energetic people within the fintech space, is what she loves to do most – and not without success. With Fintech Mundi, Hannestad helps companies to grow and operate world-wide, where she opens the door to potential customers, partners, and investors.

There lies great potential beyond the Nordic borders for many fintechs looking to do business on a global scale. Opportunities differ per markets, Hannestad explains, with Europe still being an untapped market for the Nordic fintechs, given the need for digitalization within financial services. Also, Asia serves as a promising market for financial companies to focus on, considering their large population and technological developments. Asia has skipped generations of technology to move directly to state-of-art tech solutions with a pragmatic approach.

Emerging economies such as South East Asia, Africa, and Latin America also hold opportunities for companies where there is a need for improved financial inclusivity. With around two-three billion people still being underserved, fintechs could really enable change in these markets. Financial inclusion strategies need to be relevant to drive regular use, Hannestad believes. Companies should take into account the complexity levels of their products and should have their solutions really meet the needs of micro-markets, meaning that products should be customized, culturally relevant, and aligned to expectations and preferences. Emerging economies are also very cost sensitive, which fintechs should keep in mind when rolling out their market strategies.

Hannestad explains that cultural and regulatory differences exist in each market and country and infrastructures that are built over time define the culture and expectations for financial solutions.

The Nordics probably have the world best infrastructure for payments and cashless society, and many markets are looking to the Nordics for inspiration. This is a great opportunity for Nordic fintech companies scaling globally with the experience, technology, and product knowledge. Making sure the regulators harmonize the financial service policies across countries and the world will make it easier to scale globally.

Susanne Hannestad on fintech expansion beyond the Nordic borders
Susanne Hannestad

Not only will a unique value proposition enable profitable outcomes, a strategic market approach is also needed to ensure long-term success. As it takes a long time to build a brand for consumer markets, Hannestad sees that it is easier for some companies to use a B2B model instead. Financial service incumbents like banks, telecom or insurance companies have a need for the technology and agility of fintechs. In return, fintechs need the incumbent’s customer base and trust. ‘’Collaboration is the new innovation’’, Hannestad says.

This collaboration is vital to the ecosystem as a whole and the CEO believes it is important that companies find collective gains and pursue shared goals. The fintech space will benefit if it nurtures the network effects.

The industry as a whole should inspire ‘digital drift’, meaning businesses should promote digital payments to extend access and usage, while empowering consumers.

Success strategies & industry expansion

For fintechs to experience success, there are some key points that they should focus on, according to Hannestad, with design-led thinking being the first one mentioned. Companies should emphasize on human-centric design in order to make products that offer quality in every way. The CEO also believes it is important for fintechs to be able to operate within flexible and balanced regulatory frameworks. When doing so, fintech companies should aim to identify ways to enable access for customers so the overall usage increases. This can be done through deploying a solutions-based approach, combining different channels and distribution models.

With the increasing success of the fintech industry, Hannestad believes it will not take long for fintechs reaching the point of surpassing banks. Yet, in her opinion, strategic collaboration should be the outcome:

With the speed of the global digitalization, movement to a cashless society and e-commerce, we are getting there; look at Alipay, mPesa, iZettle, WeChat and Amazon. Still, I believe there will be more collaboration between banks and fintechs for the benefit of both.

When asking what the future of fintech companies world-wide will look like, according to the Fintech Mundi CEO, three key trends will be dominant: More competition, consolidation, and collaboration.

If you’d like to learn more about Susanne Hannestad, please connect with her on LinkedIn, or visit the Fintech Mundi website. To read more articles with industry professionals please visit our blog or learn more about ARYZE on the website.

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