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Finnovating (F): Where is your association located?
Daniel Isdal Furset (DIF): We are the official FinTech Association of Norway, with our headquarters located in Bergen, on Norways west coast. As a nordic FinTech association we operate in a market that is highly digitalised and has a great deal of trust in local authorities and banks. But as a relatively small market we are always seeking cross-border collaborations and interoperability.
(F): What year was it born?
(DIF): We were founded in 2020.
(F): Why was it born?
(DIF): Before us, there were no clear voice of FinTechs in Norway, and the ecosystem desperately needed someone who could unite them and help them get attention from regulators and local authorities. This is one of the primary functions of our association; focusing on the framework conditions and problems that consern all our members and make sure these issues get the necessary attention they need from regulators, authorities, politicians and other relevant players. Once we establish these connections and communication channels, we focus on facilitating dialogue and making sure both sides work together towards finding solutions, with Fintech Norway representing the FinTechs.
Initially, Fintech Norway started as a single-purpose effort to help Norwegian FinTechs who were struggling due to the inadequate follow-up of the PSD2 regulation by the banks. After having built up a solid infrastructure, arranging regular meetings with our Financial Supervisory Authority and achieving some early successes within these issues, we saw huge potential in leveraging our position and momentum to also focus on other areas beside PSD2. As a result, we now represent all independent FinTechs who are part of the Norwegian FinTech ecosystem.
(F): Who founded it?
(DIF): Fintech Norway was founded ‘by FinTechs for FinTechs’ by a handfull of our first members.
(F): Tell us about your values and your mission.
(DIF): Our mission is simple: To gather the Norwegian Fintech community to create impact and make sure we all have a fair and level playing field. Our focus is on framework conditions and the hygiene factors that are necessary for a well-functioning FinTech market to exist. As an example, we have regular meetings with the Norwegian FSA where we focus on the regulatory framework, the compliance level of the incumbents and what the FSA does to ensure fair competition. We also have regular meetings with all the biggest banks and are actively participating in debates within the industry and during industry conferences. One of the key reasons Fintech Norway were created was to make sure barriers that hinder innovation and fair competition in the market are broken down. Participation in these forums are a vital part of ensuring this.
Our most important value is to be open and transparent in everything we do. We want to make it clear that FinTechs, as “challengers” to the established and trusted financial institutions, are also subject to strict regulation and have both the expertise and security measures/protocols needed to be compliant and offer their innovative products and services safely.
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(F): Who forms the directory board?
(DIF): Our board of directors consists of 7 board members. Each year, during our general assembly, our members vote on who from the different member companies they want to have on the board. An important rule here is to make sure that the board reflects the diversity of our members, meaning they should not all work within the same industry, e.g. payments or RegTech. As a result, our board now has members who work with everything from InsurTech and payments to crypto and crowdfunding.
(F): How many members does it have?
(DIF): This has been both an incredibly busy and productive year. Not the least when it comes to our members. From starting 2021 with just 8 members, we have now grown to 32 members and expect to reach 40 by the end of the year.
(F): What advantages and benefits do you offer your members?
(DIF): First and foremost, we offer our member the opportunity to create real and lasting impact that comes from standing together, pooling our resources and sharing the costs. Given that all FinTechs suffer from the same barriers and framework conditions, it makes much more sense to tackle these together, rather than struggling with them individually.
Another great advantage of banding together, is that the outside world now has one single actor to communicate and work with, instead of 32+ individual companies. This has been especially well received by the regulators and other authorities as well as the financial institutions who now have one dedicated communication channel to all our members.
In terms of benefits there are several. One important one is the ability to influence the agenda when we sit down with local authorities, banks and other relevant players. Another benefit is the ability to partake in our ecosystem. As our number of members grow, the collective knowledge and expertise in our ecosystem grows as well. Through this, we can offer our members sparring partners within a multitude of subjects, everything from AML / KYC / Identification to PSD2 and GDPR. The key is to focus on common ground, not their business model or value proposition.
(F): What would you like to say to your members about the partnership with Finnovating?
(DIF): A big trend this year has been collaboration, and I believe we will continue to see this trend grow next year. Finding partners that can help you either deliver or improve your value proposition is a great way to grow organically as a company and association, and this has been a big focus area for us as well. This partnership with Finnovating is yet another great example of such a win/win situation.
Through the Finnovating platform we can promote our members internationally while simultaneously contribute to the ecosystem and help foster innovation. It’s also a great way for Fintech Norway and our members to connect with other players and facilitate more collaborations.
(F): What would you say to other associations around the world about your partnership agreement with Finnovating?
(DIF): A partnership with Finnovating opens the door to a multitude of possibilities, both for us an association directly, but also for our members and the value that we provide them. With this collaboration we earn access to a global ecosystem with the potential to foster great idea and knowledge exchanges, offer us new perspectives and connect us with new collaborators, partners and projects. Our members become part of the same ecosystem, with the chance to promote themselves internationally, attract potential investors or business partners and explore international markets.
The platform offers a powerful search engine to find +50 000 FinTechs worldwide and discover new technologies, business models and distribution models. The abilty to post or partake in challenges posted by others is also a great way to brainstorm around common challenges or to showcase your teams knowledge and experience.
(F): Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
(DIF): In 10 years Fintech Norway is the organisation anyone and everyone who wants to know about FinTech in Norway goes to. Be it government officials, politicians or other associations. We set the tone for what FinTech is and where it is headed, and host the biggest FinTech event of the year each year in our region.
(F): How do you think Finnovating can help you to achieve that goal?
(DIF): As a FinTech association, it is important that we stay open to new perspectives and learn from the what others are doing. Becoming a part of the Finnovating ecosystem is a great way to achieve just that, with the added bonus of promoting ourselves and our members in the process.
Our modus operandi has always been to reach our goals through collaborations and partnerships whenever possible. This is a great way to make sure you’re not reinventing the wheel, while also strengthening your value proposition to your members. By partnering up with Finnovating we are reaffirming our position as the official channel into the Norwegian FinTech ecosystem.
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