“We believe that personalization is the key word for FinTech this year”-Interview with Meniga’s Georg Ludviksson
Serial entrepreneur Georg Ludviksson co-founded Meniga in 2009in the wake of the global financial crisis in Iceland. Georg has spent 20 years founding, building and managing global software start-ups. Georg holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School with emphasis on Entrepreneurship and Finance. He also holds a BS degree in software engineering from the University of Iceland.
WHAT IS YOUR MISSION STATEMENT?
Helping people become smarter consumers by transforming the way banks and advertisers use data.
WHERE ARE YOU HEADQUARTERED & WHY?
Meniga was founded in Reykjavík, Iceland but is headquartered in London, UK. We chose London because it is Europe’s central hub for the retail banking & FinTech industry as well as a thriving, creative and innovative environment. Geographically it is closer to our current clients and gives us greater access to potential prospects and partnerships.
WHAT TYPE OF PROBLEMS ARE YOU TRYING TO SOLVE AT YOUR COMPANY?
Banks sit on a huge pile of personal finance data that contains information that is mostly not being utilized to create value. By applying data science techniques, Meniga enables banks to drastically improve their customer experience, create new revenue streams and cut costs.
One of the biggest problems in the FinTech industry is in accessing the data required to properly test and measure the success of solutions around the world. Meniga is in the unique position of having 25% of all Icelandic households registered in our stand-alone platform. We therefore have the freedom to try, test and measure as much as we want in Iceland with a significant population. We feel this gives us an edge when it comes to understanding what people like and what people don’t like which we take into consideration when moving forward. We also work in more than 17 markets and there are great differences in the availability, quality and structure of data between different countries.
Meniga consolidates and enriches personal finance data with data science from multiple sources, including accounts, transactions, assets, liabilities, bills and CRM to create personal finance management tools and personalized relevant messaging for banks. Meniga’s Card Linked Marketing solutions also use data science to allow merchants to send personalized offers to relevant group of bank customers.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNIFICANT SHIFTS THAT YOU SEE IN THE INDUSTRY?
We have been observing a great number of FinTech companies arising from all over the world in the last years. They will often start off with one solution or one purpose but if they manage to firmly establish themselves and continue grow they will quite often move towards using big data to advance their product offering. This is an indication of the true magic that his hidden in understanding and properly using big data. However it takes great deal of experience and skill to properly work with data science to create real value and insight.
IF YOU COULD TACKLE ANY TECHNOLOGY-SOLVABLE CHALLENGE EXISTING TODAY, WHICH WOULD IT BE – AND WHY?
We would tackle exactly the one we are working on currently. That challenge is to use big data to optimize the customer, bank and merchant relationship, this will drastically improve the financial lives of people globally. It will also help banks improve their customer engagement with a personalized experience, create new revenue streams and cut costs, and finally help merchants reach the right customers and stop wasting money on aimless marketing.
WHO DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL FIGURES (OR COMPANIES) IN FINTECH IN 2016?
We believe Meniga will definitely make some noise in 2016 with our data-driven solutions. Then there are many very interesting companies working on cool things all over the world. Betterment — a New York City-based startup that provides automated investment services and personalized advice, Affirm — a San Francisco based installment loans company helping users finance large e-commerce purchases, Transferwise — a peer-to-peer money wire platform and Swedish online payment business Klarna are all examples of companies that might influence the industry with their solutions.
WHAT ARE SOME KEY HURDLES IN THE FINTECH INDUSTRY THAT YOU’RE EXPERIENCING? AND HOW DO YOU SEE DATA SCIENCE APPLICATIONS HELPING SOLVE THESE HURDLES?
One of the key hurdles we see in the FinTech industry is that banks often don’t know how to properly consolidate and enrich their data to start creating valuable insights for decision making and improved services. This is where we believe data science applications are game changers by providing a powerful solution suite that can do this for them along with insightful consultation.
Data science is fact-based instead of intuition-based and therefore superior for financial decision making and cutting edge solutions. We also use it internally a great deal to improve Meniga as a company by measuring our performance and testing our products.
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT YOU THINK THE FINTECH INDUSTRY WILL LOOK LIKE 5 YEARS FROM NOW?!
The FinTech industry will only continue to grow as understanding of the industry and the technology continues to grow with new companies emerging every year and from all over the world. There are a lot of opportunities and issues that can be solved with clever solutions. However there will likely come a point where we will have too many FinTech companies. Most of the main industry issues have been ironed out and then it will really come down to the ones that know how to use big data to broaden their product portfolio, offer something new and eventually succeed. Good data sets will help banks improve their customer experience, create new revenue streams and cut costs.
We believe that “personalization” is the key word for FinTech this year. Customers want a personalized experience and in this day and age we believe they deserve just that! All our solutions provide a personalized experience for customers; we believe that in the instance of banks this will separate those who prevail from those that might become obsolete. Banks need to realize that they are not just competing against each other anymore but rather against the FinTech companies of the world which are squeezing themselves between the bank and their customers. If banks don’t take action by providing a superior, above all personalized, customer experience, then they might start bleeding customers if they aren’t already.
image credit: Yodlee NEXT
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