It may sound counterintuitive, but one of Europe’s leading fintechs with a current US$31 billion valuation didn’t really consider itself a tech company in its early days. Back in 2005, Klarna began with a simple idea – to make online payments easier and safer for consumers and retailers.
“We were really good at sales, we were okay at marketing, [and] we were service-oriented: we really delivered to our customers. But it wasn’t really that technology-driven,” Klarna co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski admitted in a December 2020 interview. “One of the drawbacks that we had at the company was that none of the three co-founders had any engineering background; we couldn’t code.”1
Technology is, of course, crucial to any digital company in the financial sector. It is the engine that powers real-time access across multiple devices, ensures processes are secure, and enables new features to be introduced and scaled quickly. As Nutmeg, a British digital wealth management company, explains on its website, “We are a technology company, not just a financial services company.”2
Creating a flexible, future-proof technology roadmap as early as possible has numerous advantages for fintechs. It can enable innovative products and services to be delivered quickly, provide tools that mitigate a wide range of risks, such as those connected with regulation and data security, and facilitate expansion into new markets.