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Nordic Innovation – Global Scale.

Opinion pieces from Thomas Krogh. Original brought in the Nordic Fintech Magazine spring Edition 2022.

I am often asked the question of “why are the Nordics so special?”. And that is quickly followed up by another one. “For a small region of 27 million people, you do turn out quite a lot of fintech unicorns. How come?”

This article is written on the plane home from yet another visit to the financial capital of the world, London, visiting some of the world’s biggest banks for the first time since the global pandemic made us all work from home and rapidly accelerated the use of Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams.

Again, I was asked about the Nordic uniqueness and reason for the ‘unicorn factory’ status when it comes to fintech innovation. All my contacts were genuinely curious about this ‘small great region’ up north that has gained status as a global hotbed for ventures in financial technology.  

So, let’s explore some of the reasons why financial innovators should explore and learn from what is going on in the Nordic countries.  

“The Nordic countries have been at the vanguard of innovation in digital, mobile, and instant payments for decades.”

Thomas Krogh, CEO, Copenhagen Fintech

Most digital countries.

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) summarises indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the progress of EU countries. The top 3 countries in 2022. Denmark, Finland and Sweden.  

Most innovative countries.

The Global Innovation Index 2021 captures the innovation ecosystem performance of 132 economies. In top 10 you will find Sweden, Finland and Denmark.  

Most sustainable countries. The 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 180 countries across 32 performance indicators. Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway are all in top 10. The Sustainable Development Report 2021 presents the SDG Index and Dashboards for all UN member states. The top 3 countries are Finland, Sweden and Denmark. One more? The Global Sustainability Competitiveness Index confirms that the Nordics are the leading region in sustainability.

Recommended for you: Get your copy of the Nordic Fintech Magazine Spring Edition 2022

Leading in ‘Open Banking’.

Coincidence that Visa bought open banking startup Tink from Sweden and Mastercard acquired Aiia from Denmark? I think not. In general, the banks in the Nordic region are open (driven by regulation) and many of them are actively perusing partnerships with fintech startups. From the 2021 Mastercard report on ‘The Future of Open Banking in Europe” you can read that, ”From a pan-European perspective, the regional regulatory regimes in the Nordic countries seem to be slightly more advanced regarding Open Banking ecosystems and digital payment services than the domestic approaches of other countries” 

Leading in E-government.

The 11th edition of the UN E-Government Survey in 2020 ranks Denmark, Sweden and Finland as top performers (those in the highest rating class of the very high EGDI group).   

A digital financial infrastructure that fuels innovation.

The Nordic countries have been at the vanguard of innovation in digital, mobile, and instant payments for decades. The Nordic countries combine a vibrant competitive landscape of banks, payments specialists, and start-up companies with a long tradition of cooperation and collaboration. 

Nordic Human Centered Design Approach.

The final element is the Nordic design tradition that dates to the furniture and architecture sectors in the 1950s and 1960s that focused on human-centered design and problem solving. The formula of combining our highly digitized infrastructure and digital adoption and our focus on sustainability and human-centered design solutions is a very interesting cocktail for regional and global financial institutions. 

Recommended for you: Get your copy of the Nordic Fintech Magazine Spring Edition 2022

If you made it so far to read this, congrats. Now you know what makes the Nordics one of the most interesting regions when it comes to fintech. Next step is to go explore the ecosystem, connect with the many inspiring founders, entrepreneurs, industry experts etc. And as always, the Copenhagen Fintech team are here to help you do exactly that. Explore, connect, and partner.

Elevating and scaling New Nordic Innovation since 2016. 

Ditte Dyhr
Ditte Dyhr
Ditte is the Co-founder of Nordic Fintech Magazine and head of Product.