Klarna, a Swedish fintech business has been given a full banking licence. Klarna started life as a credit device for consumers, enabling them to buy and receive goods before making the actual payment. Essentially, a tiny bridging loan and risk management protocol for retailers. But the business was not satisfied with achieving incredible growth, including reaching 60 million customers and €13 billion in transactions across Europe.
According to chief executive Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the business as an aim of revolutionising the retail banking industry in a similar way to how Ryanair shook up aviation in Europe.
“New regulations set the right prerequisites for the destruction of the industry, but it needs a Ryanair. We will be that player,” said Siemiatkowski.
It’s a bold statement, but one that Siemiatkowski has the experience to back up. Klarna achieved exponential growth through identifying dissatisfaction in the market, and quickly, and boldly filling the gap. And it is regarded as more than just a good product with other thin tech groups seeking full banking licenses, and being held up through the process. When Siemiatkowski says they want to be “that player,” you can bet the major banks of Europe are paying attention, and with some level of nervousness.
And Siemiatkowski, and Klarna I going to come out swinging.
“In the tech world (banks) get out competed very quickly if they don’t deliver. But due to regulation, banks with very old technology and poor customer satisfaction have been able to prevail,” said Siemiatkowski.
Klarna also cited the impact H&M and Zara have had on the fashion industry, as an example of specialised, global businesses. This is an important point, as Klarna will be offering highly specialised services to begin with, including cards, salary accounts and will be looking to the US as an expansion target. It’s a smart move, with dissatisfaction in the banking sector at high levels, a business seeking to take down the “old guard” would likely be welcomed. An ethos of customer service, technology, and transparency would also most likely be welcomed on both sides of the Atlantic.