About the founders
The founders Rune Mai and Guðmundur Hreiðarsson show how unfitting circumstances that fintech startups experience in the financial sector can be turned into an opportunity for creating a new state of the art. By building the Nordic API gateway, the founders have put an emphasis on developing their own technological foundation for pursuing their ideas.
About the journey
With the app Spiir, the founders aimed at creating financial awareness among young people by providing a solution that analyzes spending habits and automates the process of managing finances through the users’ behavioral data. In 2013, Spiir followed a request by its users to automate the process of entering data into the app and began their search for solutions to openly access and utilize their users’ bank data. This however turned out to be much harder than expected. Not having succeeded in convincing banks to share their customer’s data, the founders decided to find their own legal way to access data without needing the agreement of a bank:
They founded a second company, the Nordic API gateway, a platform for other companies to access and collect data from banks on behalf of their customers. The launch of their Nordic API gateway soon followed based on an API that facilitates access to more than 400 Nordic banks and can be built on top of any bank.
What makes it special
What makes the Nordic API gateway special, is the motivation of creating a bank-agnostic solution that does not require a specific mother bank but functions as an overlay service. The founders did not want to look at fintech as a solution that needed to be encapsulated in a dedicated financial institution, such as one specific bank. Instead, the gateway provides an API that helps aggregate the bank’s APIs into one API, facilitating the use of consumer data for other entrepreneurs. The Nordic API gateway has been at the forefront of opening-up APIs and already offers unified API access to personal and business accounts in the Nordic region. Moreover, having chosen to make the platform available to other entrepreneurs that have previously experienced similar difficulties in acquiring user’s bank data, the founders offer a valuable solution to many fintechs in the ecosystem.
“To me, fintech is actually the try to innovate for the consumer and for the businesses more than to think about how to generate revenue from day one.”
A transformational shift in the financial industry
Until its launch in 2017, the founders have experienced greater acceptance of open data in the financial sector evolving from a rather defensive towards a more opportunistic attitude when it comes to sharing and utilizing customer’s data. Rune Mai describes the new movement as a transformational shift of banks from a more localized and specialized customer segment towards a broader market that redefines the financial space and puts the consumer back in the center of attention. Especially in regard to the PSD2 directive, the Nordic API Gateway will be able to give consultancy and provide the necessary infrastructure for interactions between banks and startups in the Nordic fintech scene.
As of now, Spiir has experienced an explosive growth in the past years, counting 300.000 users and planning to expand its API gateway services to the wider Nordic region with the goal to become the standard for data exchange in the Nordic financial sector. In the past year, they have managed to raise a total of DKK 64 million including strategic investors, such as DNB and Danske Bank.