I went a business / banking event hosted by Nordea at their new HQ in Helsinki. This was the first of many business events I’ll attend before my departure from Finland.
As the title would suggest, the event was about Nordea and Fintech, which turned out to be quite interesting to someone who is by no means an expert in finance. I got to meet many highly knowledgeable people in the banking industry, as well as some FinTech experts on the side. I felt inspired.
I arrived an hour early, and got to meet a couple of the organizers that I would end up having more conversations with throughout the event. I asked questions about banking and what kind of people Nordea in particular were looking to hire, as working at a bank is certainly something I will consider when I graduate late next year. I was glad to find that I had some of the skills they could use, and that the turnover rates were quite high, which is positive from the perspective of someone who is looking to get hired.
After our conversation died down, I had a quick look around before the event started. The pictures I use in this blog post are mostly from this lull period, but there isn’t much to say about it, so let’s move on to the event itself, and the topics of discussion.
The Topics of Discussion
As the guests started to roll in, most of them wearing suits and looking rather important, I started to feel like I had come to the right place. Although, I did feel a little anxious due to me not really knowing anyone, and everyone else seemingly knowing at least one other person in the room. This feeling was further hammered in as more than one of the presenters would say something akin to “I’ve seen most of the faces in this room, and I’m glad to see you all could make it.” There were dozens of faces, and mine was not one of the recognized ones.
I’ve read about finance, but I’m not an expert, so I prepared myself with my camera, as well as a handy notebook and a pen. This would prove an awfully convenient source of information when I later asked questions from the presenters directly.
Topics that were discussed:
Digital Services for and with Corporate Customers, Presented by Sampsa Laine, Head of Digital Banking CBB, Nordea
Cryptocurrencies now and in the future, Presented by Rui Hu, Chief Blockchain Architect, Nordea
Open Banking, Presented by Sarah Häger, Head of Community, Nordea
Why do we (Nordea) want to partner up, Presented by Victor Dyrhauge, Nordea Ventures
Some of these topics sound more difficult than others, but they were explained rather well during the presentations. I won’t go through everything in fine detail, but rather I’ll explain briefly what the plan moving forward is for Nordea and Fintech.
The Plan Moving Forward
I paid close attention to what everyone was saying, and I came out of the event having learned much. I’ll share some of what I learned, and this should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Most importantly, Nordea is looking to expand the ways they interact with other FinTech companies. They are looking to hire talent, as well as invest in already proven ideas. One of the ideas that they had bought, was an application that gathers the data of all of the subscriptions you have going on (Netflix for example) and presents the information to you on their app, from which you can then control your subscriptions from one location. Sounds convenient, and that is the point. This was just one example of many that exist, and there are more to come. So if you are making applications about finance, and your market is in the Nordics, then presenting your idea to Nordea could be a good idea.
Nordea is also looking to improve their own interface, mostly by using third party UI design, as well as their own archaic code that runs their banking system (most banks still use COBOL, which is kind of outdated). Nordea is interested in creating a better digital user experience through their services, and I guess this also means that they will be more open about their business online, offering more and better services than before. From what I understood, but in all honesty I should have asked this question from the presenters, is that Nordea is looking to expand their reach by sharing useful information in easy-to-consume manner as well. In other words, Nordea is interested in the information side of business, and they are looking for ways to make finances easier for the common people to use and understand through third party applications. I’d say this is a very good move by them, and it offers third party developers good opportunities in the future.
Lastly, Bitcoin came into question. This was to me the best presentation, but that’s most due to me being biased towards this subject in particular. I don’t know too much about banking, and while I don’t fully understand how Bitcoin works, I at least understand it’s worth something in the marketplace. Rui Hu gave a wonderful presentation, explaining how banks view Bitcoin, and the conclusion was that banks don’t consider Bitcoin as real currency, or at least not something worth investing in. The reasons for this are many, and it can’t be explained briefly, but the main point is that Bitcoin is too unstable, and it will take a very long time until Bitcoin can reach its goal, which is to replace all paper money, and banks just can’t take the risk of investing in something that might or might not happen. It’s not realistic, and that is the problem. Later Rui also said that if a government, China or the US for example really wanted to do it, they could just kill Bitcoin at a press of a button, which creates further uncertainty. It was fascinating to learn all of this, and more, from his presentation.
In summary I’ll just say that I like where Nordea is heading. It’s exactly how I would imagine a modern bank, especially one that exclusively deals within the Nordic countries, and I think the future for Nordea is very bright.
This is also a very good time to be a student in this field, or into IT in general. If you create applications that focus on simplifying finances, you should pitch your idea to banks. I think they might be interested.
Overall, I had a good time. I stayed for drinks and conversation after the event, and I met many inspiring figures in the banking and FinTech industries.
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