Interview with Georg Ludviksson, CEO Meniga
Founded in 2009, Meniga helps financial institutions worldwide utilise their data to personalise their digital channels and enhance customer engagement. The company has grown rapidly in recent years and now serves more than 50 million digital banking users in 23 markets across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.
Fintech Disruptors: Georg, we wanted to start by asking you for a personal take on Meniga’s growth story over the last nine years. What have been the main drivers behind your company’s growth?
Georg Ludviksson: Since it’s been nine years, I suppose you could call us a mature start-up by now! The company was born out of the financial crisis that hit Iceland around 2008/2009, when two things happened. The first was that Icelandic banks came under pressure to help households that had seen their purchasing power drop significantly – so they needed a comprehensive money management solution. The second thing, from our side as founders, was that a lot of the coding talent that had been working for the banks suddenly became available to us. We grew in Scandinavia initially, but over the last few years many banks across Europe have seen the opportunities inherent in PSD2 and started working with us. We had a great year last year, in which we grew by 50% and added the second-largest bank in France as a customer. We’ve seen many banks respond strategically to PSD2 this year, investing more heavily than before in user experience and digital banking.
Fintech Disruptors: You mention the banks’ strategic response to PSD2. This year, our survey is looking at the factors that make for success. From the perspective of a company that partners with banks and has them as clients, what factors make for a successful bank in the fintech environment?
Georg Ludviksson: We’re helping banks to compete and increase the velocity at which they change their customer services in the new digital world. To me, the best banks are the ones that are now becoming more open, seeing more of the opportunities that exist if they work with fintechs. We’ve seen more and more banks choose to work with fintechs – even the biggest banks realise they can’t do everything themselves, and that they need to move more quickly to avoid being disintermediated against. So, to sum up – the winning banks are going to be those that see the changing regulatory environment and recognise the need to change – and change quickly. And partnering with fintechs is one of the best ways to effect rapid change when it comes to developing new customer services and products.
Fintech Disruptors: We’ve discussed recent developments in your business. What emerging trends have you seen across the fintech sector in the last eighteen months?
Georg Ludviksson: I think last year was a pivotal year – it was the year PSD2 became real as a possibility for the banks. We saw a lot of banks start to take PSD2 seriously as a strategic possibility, recognising that the world of open data is coming. For us as a company, we experienced a huge surge in demand and projects. More widely, I’ve noticed that banks have more appetite to mine customer data to create new services and business models: they’ve recognised that payment and transaction fees are declining, as well as consumer credit as a profit centre. So they’ve recognised that whoever can use data to give meaningful advice to customers and engage with them effectively is going to reap the rewards. One example would be helping consumers to find personalised offers based on transaction history. Bank of America, and some of the British banks as well, have been doing this for the last few years, but really in quite a limited way. The opportunities that exist in Big Data for banks are quite incredible.
Fintech Disruptors: Finally, looking to the future, what do you see as the big trends in the next year to eighteen months? What do you think the impact of Brexit will be on fintech, for instance?
Georg Ludviksson: I don’t think Brexit is going to have much of an impact on fintech, if I’m honest. London has a large talent pool and it’s very much the capital of fintech, with a lot of pioneering things happening. The UK banking industry has made great strides in terms of open banking, with a lot of our current and potential partners located there. Added to which there are good transport links and a good local market for our products – so I don’t anticipate a lot of change in the short to medium term. More broadly, I expect the big trend in the next eighteen months will be a move towards open banking around the world. Although our focus at the moment is on Europe, we find that wherever we go, people in financial services expect their region to follow Europe’s lead on open banking. For now, though, our focus is on consolidating our success in Europe and taking opportunities elsewhere in the world as they arise.