A VC once told him that fear was the best marketings tool ever fabricated. That was in reference to the hockey stick growth his cybersecurity startup was seeing, thanks to a raft of tales in the media considering high profile cases of companies being hacked. But might the same be said of banks and the pending threat of fintech? Arguably, they have much to fear.
From having some of the most lucrative and low-hanging parts of their business unbundled by upstarts, such as TransferWise( money transfer ), Nutmeg( savings ), and PensionBee( pensions ), to out right challenger banks that are re-inventing the current account and will lend out client deposits in the form of overdrafts, a business model at the core of traditional banking.
And then there is the biggest elephant in the room: big tech companies. If fintech is really about monetising access to a consumers financial data access that the banks are being forced to provide by upcoming EU and U.K. open banking regulation the likes of Google, Facebook, and, to a lesser extent, Apple and Amazon, cant afford not to jump onboard the fintech train.
Enter Meniga, a London-headquartered fintech startup, with R& D in Iceland, that offer digital banking technology to some of the worlds largest banks. Its various products include a software layer that bridges the gap between a banks legacy tech infrastructure and a modern API, building it easier to build consumer-friendly digital banking experiences on top and to comply with upcoming regulation such as PSD2.
Those new digital banking experiences typically show up in a banks mobile app and include things like personal finance director functionality, a Facebook-esque activity feed to help customers keep track of their expenditures, or the new Fitbit-inspired Challenges module, a kind of fiscal health tracker that harnesses social and gamification to gently nudge a banks customers into better budgeting.
Todays banks are under pressure to innovate and be enhanced their client experiences online and yet they are beholden to legacy processes and legacy systems and are usually ill equipped to provide their clients with world class user experience in digital banking, Meniga co-founder and CEO Georg Ludviksson tells me.
Meniga has built a reputation as a strong invention partner to banks and its software solutions help some of the worlds largest banks utilise their data to make their online and mobile banking more personalised and inspiring.
Ludvikssons coining of Meniga as an innovation partner to banks isnt simply startup speak , nor is it bluster( the Meniga founder talks in soft, considered Icelandic tones ). The company holds five-day onsite design sprints with its banking clients, and last year it conducted more than 80 user testing conferences in four countries again, many of them in partnership with the banks.
In addition, Meniga operates what Ludviksson tells is a unique sandpit concept that assures the fintech startup offer a direct to consumer product for Icelanders that serves as a testing ground for product testing and R& D that in turn benefits its clients. Its a website with free personal finance tools with over 30 per cent of all Icelandic households registered. The sites users are customers from all walkings of life with every personality type, he says.
Meniga is also working with banks to introduce new data-driven services and business models. The idea is to enable digital banking users to better understand, manage and make the most of their fund by providing personal finance tools, insights and tailored offers, such as via its card-linked offers product for merchants.
Its a classic data play: devote us access to your fiscal data and well give you something of value in return. Banks, after all, sit on a heck of a lot of data, which they rarely do a good job of exploit, for their own benefit or that of their customers. Meniga is helping to change that, whilst the task of trying to persuade banks to espouse a digital-first way of thinking before a new or old competitor does, is becoming a lot easier.
Meanwhile, the company, which counts the likes of Santander, Intesa, Commerzbank, ING Direct, and mBank as clients, has shut 7.5 million in new funding, bringing total raised to 21 million since being founded in 2009. The round was led by Nordic VC Industrifonden, with participation from existing investors Velocity Capital, Frumtak Ventures and Kjolfesta.