Johan Lorenzen, CEO of Holvi
Johan Lorenzen, CEO of Holvi

What is your mission statement?

Holvi’s mission is to help our customers grow. Our target is the 20 % of European workforce that operate independently. Micro-businesses, the self-employed, entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers. There are 19 million micro-businesses and 40 million independent workers in Europe. Our typical customers are connected millennials that are fed up with the traditional banking services and business software.

Our day-to-day mission is to offer an amazing customer experience: it’s open, social, collaborative and engaging. We have seen our customers grow from part time projects to full time businesses and from local startups to well recognised world class companies. They have made an impact in their field and we have been privileged to power them with a financial solution that adapts to their needs and allows them to reach their goals.

We have independently built an end-to-end online banking platform from the ground up. A financial service that does not operate on the legacy backend or balance sheet of any existing bank. The core of Holvi’s service is the current account. All accounts have basic SME tools built in including online shop, an invoicing tool and financial reporting features. We are building an open platform that seamlessly integrates third party service providers. An example of such is the integration of Dropbox allowing customers to export the whole bookkeeping with receipts and reports directly to their cloud storage account.

Where are you headquartered?

Holvi’s home is Helsinki, Finland. We have an independent licence to operate across Europe, so it doesn’t really make a difference where we are based. Modern banking knows no borders, and neither do we. Our service is fully digital and it only takes a couple of minutes to get started.

Who do you think will be the most influential figures (or companies) in FinTech, in 2015?

I see a lot of interesting FinTech companies in the alternative / challenger position, especially in the UK, where the ecosystem seems to be maturing quite fast. It is still fragmented and at some point needs to be unified but there’s a lot of good development happening over the last year. One of the examples that I have been especially excited about is iwoca – a company providing credit for small businesses. They are really tackling the European wide problem of serving a segment that is underserved by the traditional banks.

What kind of year do you foresee for your company, and the industry as a whole?

In 2015 we will continue to strengthen our position within the European banking landscape and serving more customers across the continent. We received our own independent payment service provider licence in the summer of 2014 and have since acquired early access customers from various countries including Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Austria and the UK. Our next push will be entering Germany.

In general I see a lot of interesting things happening in the FinTech scene. For example the small business banking is the largest underserved market where the alternative players are moving fastest and the position of the established banks are highly under pressure if they don’t manage to change their offering towards the segment. Technology and internet scale thinking is the key to reaching an efficient model for the next decade’s small business paradigm. Newcomers in this space are so much efficient on adapting both the customer acquisition and service cost. In the future everybody will either be a small business or have a secondary business and they need the right kind of financial tools to enable them.

What are your key targets for 2015?

Our key target is to continuously improve our service offer to match the needs of small business owners across Europe. Providing the best possible financial service requires a full understanding of our customer’s needs now and in the future. We will continue to use a big part of our time with our customers, articulating their daily challenges and transforming those into a solution that helps them. In 2015 we want to become even better in providing our customers a service that allows them to reach their goals.

What are the most important opportunities for FinTech in 2015?

The most important opportunity for FinTech is to serve the underserved, solve real problems and build something real people care for and actually want to use. Banking has become so disconnected from the way we live our lives, the most important opportunity is to change banking to better match the shift in society.

What are the key hurdles for growing your business this year?

Finding the right people to join our team and help us on our mission is constantly on the agenda and is sometimes a time consuming process, even though absolutely necessarily to handle in-house.

What are your thoughts on the current state of FinTech?

Modern technology, better user experience and the overall digitalisation of financial services is a big step towards transferring the very traditional industry that has not seen change over the past 20 years. There is a lot of development happening in all financial service verticals – be it the small business banking or consumer space, insurance or lending – many new companies are coming up with great new ideas and much more convenient and affordable solutions than the traditional players. It’s extremely exciting to be part of that.

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