Five startups were given the task to rate the performance of the Nordic fintech hubs at Copenhagen Fintech Week. They urged the cluster organisations to focus even more on creating collaboration in some of the ecosystem. Also, one startup felt that it had fallen through the cracks in the fintech hub’s services due to the stage they had reached.

The real value of any cluster organisation need to be measured by the value they deliver to their critical stakeholders for the fintech hubs that is – in part – startups. So that was the topic for representatives from Pleo, Minna Technologies, Tink and Swiipe as they took to stage during Copenhagen Fintech Week. They offered an evaluation of the hub’s performance and gave pointers for new services they will need soon.

Overall the feedback was positive, but the startups did have inputs for the fintech hubs representatives that were present during the panel debate.

A hub should not only create connections but collaboration

For Fredrik Hedberg, who is CTO and co-founder at the Swedish startup Tink, the raison d’être of the fintech hubs needs to be their ability to act as a hub that connects the different spokes of the fintech ecosystem.

“The hubs should assume an active role in connecting fintechs with stakeholders. Not only inside of the Nordics, but they should connect us to fintech powerhouses and hubs outside of Europe even. Traditionally, banking has been a very local industry, but now we live in a global reality,” Hedberg said and continued:

“In Sweden, there is much cooperation between fintechs and financial incumbents already. In fact, if you look at the financial landscape for competitors, you will find them everywhere. However, I believe that finance is a network. Simply, because if you adopt another view, then you would never be able to engage in talks with other stakeholders.”

Here Hakon Junge from Pleo jumped in and highlighted that while he agreed with the statement that was not his experience in the Danish ecosystem:

“In Denmark, it feels like there is not a willingness to cooperate among the startups. The Danish market is small, so there is a – valid – fear of losing market shares. I think that is the reason for the unwillingness. In that regard, it appears that there is still a big difference between Nordic countries. Financial incumbents are proving to be more willing to engage in talks, and we have done that with both Danske Bank and Nets,” Hakon said and continued:

“Right now the biggest impediment for scaling is regulations. Namely the difference in regulations from country to country. That should be on the agenda of the all the hubs.”  

The middle gap

Lana Kaupuza, a Swedish fintech expert, added to Hakons point and highlighted how hubs could act more as portals for foreign startups trying to enter their market. Because even though the distance between Denmark and Sweden is nothing more than a car ride, the regulatory road is much longer.

“If you have to go from Sweden to Denmark the regulatory framework is very different. Therefore the hubs should also assume responsibility for foreign startups trying to enter the market. That is a crucial role for hubs as well,” Kaupuza underlined, but she also highlighted that the hubs had a role to play in attracting talent:

“Right now I’m helping a startup with recruiting. Moreover, an applicant came to me and said that the inclusiveness and diversity in Sweden was a strong selling point for her. Hubs can use these values to help brand the Nordics and attract even more talent.”

The co-founder from the subscription management service Minna Technologies Jonas Karles found that an overall branding of the Nordics could attract more talent. However, at the same time, he felt that his startup had reached a maturity level where the hubs did not offer many services.

“Hubs are great for early-stage startups and late stage as well. However, in the middle where we are now there is not much value,” Karles remarked. Moderator and CEO of Copenhagen Fintech Thomas Krogh Jensen quickly asked what the startup needed at that stage. Karles answered:

“We would like to match with people, who have experience in our field, that can contribute with knowledge and experience. Maybe for an hour-long meeting with a very set and concrete agenda. For my startup that would add an obvious value proposition to the hubs’ offerings,” Karles concluded.