DNB has an ambition to become one of Europe's leading technology companies. Then it is good to have some digital natives on the team.

Text: Sissel Fantoft Photo: Ellen Johanne Jarli

Facts. Digitalisation in DNB

  • Digitalisation of DNB is about four things:
  1. Customer-centric design: Products and services are being re- designed based on customer needs and the opportunities provided by new digital tools (such as smart phones and voice control).
  2. Extreme automation: If a task can be solved by a computer, this is faster, cheaper and in many cases better than if it is solved manually.
  3. Smarter use of customers’ and the bank’s data: Existing informati- on is used so that customers provide the least amount of information possible, but still get the advice and the services they actually need.
  4. New business models: Tradi- tional banking products are under pressure to be pro table and they are not always what customers need. New revenue models and “win-win” cooperation with new market participants and own customers are being explored.
  • The majority of those working in DNB are a ected by digitalisation, and more than 1 000 people have this as their main task. They work in both the business units and ITOP.
  • In 2016, DNB invested some NOK 600 million in digitalisation.

Through Digital Challenge, I totally changed my view of the banking industry. So many exciting things are happening here within technology and cutting-edge innovation.

Hanna Helle, digital developer in DNB

The new world of banking is undoubtedly digital. Today’s banking customers do most of their banking themselves online, which has resulted in the closure of branch offices and the gradual disappearance of cash handling services. Mobile banking is here to stay, and in the past year, innovations such as Vipps and Finger-ID have become commonplace. Digitalisation also implies that more time is freed up for relevant customer meetings and advisory services.

But what will be next? When you see how fast technology is developing, it makes you wonder what tomorrow’s bank will look like.

This is the NOK 100 000 question that DNB invited students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, to answer in the spring of 2016. Through Digital Challenge, an idea competition, DNB challenged the students to define how the future of mobile banking should look like, be experienced and function, and in the prize pot was – yes, precisely – NOK 100 000 and a paid internship at DNB’s Digital Floor, the bank’s own “technology laboratory”.

Ecosystem for cooperation

When the competition was announced, Hanna Helle and Camilla Berggren were technology students at NTNU, and planned to start work in an IT company after their studies. Instead, they have now embarked upon careers as digital developers in DNB, thanks to an excellent idea which took them to the final of Digital Challenge.

Helle, a graduate engineer in industrial economics and computer science, and Berggren, who has a master’s degree in computer science, entered two ideas in the competition together with two fellow students in computer science and information technology. Both of their ideas went through to the next round. One of the ideas, “FinTech platform”, achieved second place. Financial technology – fintech – is about new programs, processes, products or business models which may change the market for the traditional banking industry.

“The idea behind the “FinTech platform” is to establish an ecosystem for cooperation between DNB and external companies, primarily start-up companies. Various resources are made available here, so that companies can connect to DNB’s systems and get the services they need,” explains Helle.

DNB’s immediately found the “FinTech platform” very exciting, and after an internship during the summer holidays, both Helle and Berggren received permanent job offers.

In order to conquer the competition, our ambition is to become one of Europe's leading technology companies.

Halvor Lande, head of Digitalisation and Business Development in DNB
Paradigm shift

The “FinTech platform” is now a DNB project which we are in the process of developing,” says Halvor Lande, head of digitalisation and business development in DNB. He experiences on a daily basis how technology development over the last few years has led to a paradigm shift in the banking and financial sector and how this shift will force through new ways of thinking. Closer cooperation with students is part of this:

“We want to use the students’ experiences and perspectives as “digital natives” and benefit from their education. The Digital Challenge competition challenged students to present their suggestions as to what “the next Vipps» should be for DNB,” says Lande and adds:

“We must continually improve and develop our services in order for us to continue to be a good partner for our corporate and personal customers. An increasing number of traditional banking services are now being provided by other market participants. If we do not manage to succeed in staying ahead of developments, we will not be able to fulfil our mandate as a bank,” says Lande.

Big ambitions

An important part of the work to develop good technological solutions was the creation of the organisational unit headed by Lande: DAB (Digitalisation and Business Development). DAB is part of IT and Operations, ITOP, which administers DNB’s entire IT portfolio and operates all the services the bank offers its customers.

“DAB is also responsible for addressing development needs from DNB’s various business areas. This is done by redefining their business challenges into IT projects which ITOP continues to work on in cooperation with our strategic suppliers. We already regard DNB as a technology company with a banking licence. In order to conquer the competition, our ambition is to become one of Europe’s leading technology companies,” says Lande. Therefore, competitions like Digital Challenge are worth their weight in gold.

Increasing pace of innovation

The idea that won the Digital Challenge is about simpler and better mobile banking services and has also become a separate DNB project. Another competition entry called NXT Accelerator has been launched in partnership with StartupLab, Norway’s largest incubator for technology-based startups. Here, fintech entrepreneurs can compete for investment funds while gaining access to DNB’s expertise on start-up companies.

“This is the first in a long series of cooperation projects we will have with large and medium-sized technology companies, both nationally and internationally. Even though we are more than 10 000 employees in DNB, we are still too small to be able to stay one step ahead in all the areas necessary to ensure that we maintain the required pace of innovation,” emphasises Lande.

DNB’s brand, capital and expertise within banking services are invaluable resources for start-up companies.

“For example, if a start-up company develops a new app based on the “FinTech platform”, part of the service is that we review the solution and consider whether it is secure, compatible, ethical and in line with our values. The threshold for using such an app, particularly within financial services, will be much lower if it is stamped “approved by DNB”,” says Lande.

Cutting-edge innovation

Neither Hanna Helle nor Camilla Berggren had imagined that they would begin to work in banking once they had finished their studies.

“It was by sheer chance that we came across the announcement about the Digital Challenge competition. It sounded exciting and we felt that we had something to contribute. After all, both of us have a technology background and we visualised a future in an IT company. Through “Digital Challenge”, I totally changed my view of the banking industry. So many exciting things are happening here within technology and cutting-edge innovation. It is inspiring and fun to be on such a journey,” concludes Helle.