190927 Erik Z Article SoMe 1200x627
190927 Erik Z Article SoMe 1200x627

Catching up with Erik Zingmark at Sibos

Erik Zingmark, Head of Transaction Banking at Nordea, met Alara Basul from Sibos Daily News to talk about innovation in the Nordics and the hot topics being discussed at Sibos.

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Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:

In the last five years, you must have seen a lot of innovation going on, not only in the banking industry. The Nordics are always at the forefront of innovation, how does Nordea stay at that forefront?

A lot has happened in the last few years and I would say that the Nordics is boiling right now with innovation, there are a lot of fintechs and entrepreneurs. What has changed a bit is that five years ago we were focusing on supplying customers with what they expected us to supply them with. Today we are more pushing them and challenging them on how they conduct their business and e-commerce is one example.

How is e-commerce changing in the Nordics compared to Europe?

I don’t know if there is so much difference in e-commerce between the Nordics and Europe, but I think that the banks are definitely very engaged in e-commerce. E-commerce is growing very rapidly in the Nordics, twice as fast as the rest of Europe.

In terms of payments and transactions, the Nordics are one step ahead in terms of cashless and staying ahead of the trends. Have you noticed that here at Sibos?

The Nordic countries are very much at the forefront. Not in all areas, but in general we are quite fast. We have a kind of society that embraces new technology, and we are going cashless. I definitely think that we have that reputation. Still, of course we are a small region, so we are not able to scale it globally, so we need partners to do that to reach other continents.

What have you seen that has been changing in the industry over the last few years?

As you know there are a lot of hypes coming, and then they slow down – and then the new hype comes up again. Obviously, blockchain has moved from being a hype, to being quiet, to now being more happening. Data and artificial intelligence are to me the hottest topics, both from a commercial perspective but also how to fight financial crime. I think those are obviously extremely interesting for us and we are very engaged in that. I also think all the things that Swift are doing are very interesting as well. Swift is important to us banks, and I expect Swift to continue to develop to support our needs as banks.

I think banks are now in a phase where we are a little bit more in control than we were a few years ago because both us and the fintechs have realised that we need eachother. We are now in a phase where we benefit from collaborating and we both realise that we do that and I think that will bring a lot of good stuff to our customers.

Do you think we will see more collaboration between fintechs and corporates or banks between each other?

Yes, I think first of all banks are very much collaborating more and more. Not in a way that would damage competition, but rather to spend as little as possible to build platforms to enable commercialisation and customer value. One example in the Nordics is Project 27 where six banks have come together to create the world’s first cross border cross currency real time platform, which is extremely exciting. Its really something that will change the way we conduct business in the Nordics.

What are some of the initiatives for Nordea in the next year?

Nordea like most banks is now in a phase where we are very much focused on commercialising what we have invested in the last three years. For us that means that we are progressing with our Open Banking platform and we now have about 5,000 developers in our sandbox. So we have a lot of really smart entrepreneurs, fintechs and others. Now it’s time to start to get that out of the factory so to speak so we see that we create tangible results from that. We are going to continue to focus a lot on e-commerce, how we can help merchants to grow their business but also to help B2B companies because they are also moving online now. And thirdly, we are continuing to invest in the mobile payment space, which is extremely important for the consumer side of our business.

What are you doing to strengthen your competitiveness in the market?

One thing that we have been doing for some years now is that we are replacing all our legacy. We are running one of the largest IT projects among banks relative to our size. That is that we are replacing the legacy and putting in new platforms. One payment platform, one account platform and one data warehouse. I think most banks will have to do that sooner or later and that is perhaps the single most important activity we are running to secure that we are relevant in the future.

If you had to pick one buzz word to sum up the Sibos, what would it be?

There are lots of interesting things but I would choose artificial intelligence. That will be absolutely critical for banks going forward.

This video interview has been independently edited and produced by FinTech Futures. Visit their website to find more news and information related to financial technology.


For more information write to txbmarketengangement@nordea.com.

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