Nordea’s Open Banking journey so far – A chat with Gunnar Berger

As part of their look at Open Banking, ‘The Paypers’ interviewed Gunnar Berger, Nordea’s Head of Open Banking. This article was independently edited by The Paypers and is reprinted here

Gunnar Berger: “Nordea is one of the European banks that chose to take a proactive approach to PSD2 and explore the opportunities offered by Open Banking ever since 2016. Seeing the new regulations, new and emerging technologies and changing customer behaviour, we started to engage with fintechs and customers to grasp the market viewpoint, through interviews and by attending fintech events to refine our vision and design our Open Banking Platform.

As one of the first banks in the Nordics, we openly stated our vision for Open Banking and that we see Open Banking and collaborating with fintechs as an opportunity to embrace the changing landscape. We launched our Open Banking Portal for developers to sign up in February 2017.

Creating a community

In only three days, we received 300 sign-ups, which was amazing and took us by surprise. This rose to 700 by the time we closed for sign ups. We succeeded in creating a Developer community with the help of hackathons, roadshows, Dev2Dev gatherings, social media, and our newly launched blogs and newsletters.

In June 2017, we invited the first beta testers to our sandbox, and, since then, there have been hundreds of developers experimenting with our APIs within our sandbox. What is more, we received valuable feedback via our sandbox. We gathered the documentation and continued to learn about the apps to be created. Running concurrently to this process, we took our time to improve our developer portal and the APIs further.

Furthermore, in November 2017, Nordea published the Open Beta, available for anyone who wants to register to test the APIs. Afterwards, over 2,000 developers are registered to our sandbox.

Finally, in December 2017, we connected the APIs to the production system, which made us the first Nordic bank to offer our pilots access to real customer data.

Extending the reach

During 2018, we have focused on improving the developer experience, running a pilot in Finland and now launching into the next country, Sweden. We are still in the process of extending the availability of our APIs geographically to Denmark, Norway, Germany and the UK.

We are also working with APIs beyond PSD2 to introduce a concept where corporate clients would be able to access their own data via APIs, without a licensed third party being in the middle. And we have also made a proof of concept about the aggregation of data from several banks.

No doubt, Open Banking will provide our customers with in-demand products and services, while keeping them in control of which data they wish to expose and which products they wish to use. Nordea will continue to be a relationship bank and as such, we are putting our clients first. Our goal is to strengthen our collaboration with fintechs and go beyond regulatory requirements by providing premium APIs which fit the changing needs of customers across all segments.

API beyond PDS2

Banks will disrupt themselves by allowing co-created digital offerings to compete with existing bank channels. Some incumbent banks will find themselves in the same situation as Netflix once were. Even if today’s line of business is profitable, it might be the right move to give it up and pursue a new, more promising way of servicing the customer.

Fintech companies will take market from the incumbent technology providers. The established tech companies that require to be paid from day one if they are going to develop anything new for the customers will be challenged by start-up companies that are willing to take the risk to develop something they believe in, even if they don’t have a paying customer yet. Co-creation with banks will only be possible for those technology companies that are also willing to share the risk of failing.

Most of all, the upcoming change will disrupt the market for the middlemen that base their existence on the shortcomings of the current financial ecosystem. Real-time execution of payments combined with machine-to-machine connectivity through open APIs will remove both the time lags and the needs to convert between different platforms. In a world of openness and directness, many intermediaries will be rendered obsolete.”

About Gunnar Berger

Gunnar is heading a Nordic unit responsible for ensuring PSD2 compliance and proactively embracing the opportunities for more innovative development and 3rd party collaboration based on open banking. Gunnar’s goal is to make Nordea’s Open Banking Platform the go-to hub for financial APIs in the Nordics, where customers, 3rd parties and banks can meet to exchange data and co-create more comprehensive and value-adding solutions. Gunnar has a long history working in the banking industry, especially with complex customer cases and development initiatives.

This story originally appeared in the Paypers:

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