How Swedish Fintech Startup, Rocker, Is Shaking up the Loaning Industry

By March 2, 2020 Interview

Rocker, formerly known as Bynk, is a Stockholm-based fintech startup launched in 2017. The mobile banking application offers a range of services to help consumers taking control of their everyday financial life. It includes personal loans up to €28,000 for various purposes, account credits, P2P checkout payment services and debit card services. It recently received €48 million in equity funding from Schibsted and LMK Industry after launching just 18 months prior. Rocker is aiming to expand its services to multiple European markets during 2020.

A interview with Rocker CEO, Emil Hansson.

Great to have you for your first ever NOAH Conference! Can you tell us a bit about how Rocker is challenging traditional players?

Great to be at the conference! Rocker is a tech company building retail banking services that are more flexible, super easy to use and more affordable. We develop and offer them at a fraction of the traditional players’ costs. We work in the areas of loans, payments and savings. We’ve taken a position as a leading player in our field in Sweden up until this point.

 

You’ve started out differently than some of your competitors?

We share a similar vision as some other fintech players, but we have applied a different strategy than most of our competitors. Instead of initially pushing out cards and focusing primarily on building user base, we started out by revolutionizing the way a regular loan works by putting the user in total control everything you can do with a loan. We quickly built up a solid and credible business model. We’ve then added more services, within credit and several payment services. The Rocker debit card probably has some of the most attractive features in the market right now. We are also launching savings accounts this spring. We have created a solid business model and focus on accelerating customer growth now.

 

Since becoming CEO in 2018, what has been the biggest challenge so far and how were you able to overcome them?

One of the key challenges that we and other players in our industry have, is maintaining a healthy balance of speed and stability. We believe that every geographical market will be a winner-takes-most-market and you need to reach a strong and sustainable position in each market where you go to.At the same time, growing loans and credit as part of your business comes with great responsibility and it requires a high level of control and discipline. This is a challenging balance to maintain for any company.

With so many players entering the market, which fintech trends are overrated and underrated and why?

I’ll start with what is underrated! Services that are easier to use and understand, that are more flexible and that put the user in the driver’s seat of the service, are underrated. We believe that many banks still fail to grasp what customer experience actually means. And many of them have no clue on what to do about it, as it is a fundamentally different approach for them to start at the end customer when building a service. On the other end, service providers that neglect the need for time, stability and gradual change are overrated. It takes time to truly disrupt in an industry like this. An example is mortgages. Funding is conservative, legislation locks in customers and the market structure also differs a lot between countries, which makes scaling challenging.

 

What can regulators, supervisors and legislators do to facilitate the adoption of fintech in Europe?

They’ve have been screaming for more competition in banking in the past 20 years. Well, it is happening right now. What was needed was responsible de-regulation, and of course the technology to enable fast disruption. And as true challengers grow and start making more money, there will be a cry for new regulation, driven by the ones that have the most to lose. Some old banks will have to go out of business. The way they run their high-cost businesses is simply not sustainable. New, more efficient players will take their place. It will hurt and cause a commotion. And there still remains a lot of rules that obstruct people from switching service providers easily. So I hope that legislators will stay true to their original intentions and be brave enough to continue to take measures to allow for the market to transform, for the benefit of consumers.

 

How has the loaning industry changed over time and where do you see it evolving in 5 years?

The loaning industry is a very traditional industry, focused on interest rates and credit allowance. Customer experience has not been a strong selling point historically but it will doubtlessly be so in the coming years. What we did was to change the way a loan works and we’ve put the customer in control of it. Our customers can decide for themselves when and how they wish to pay for the loan or amortize. They know exactly what it costs and they can use the app to control it themselves.

 

Where do you see Rocker’s long term position in the market?

We have a proven growth engine, a broad platform with financial services that people love and a partner network that has enabled us, in just over 2 years, to reach decent revenues. The model works and it can scale fast. So we aim for nothing less than a leading position in Europe over time.

 

What changes have you seen regarding the Swedish tech startup ecosystem and how do you anticipate its future growth?

The Swedish startup culture is strong, which it has always been. The quality of companies is also high. There are many great Swedish players and entrepreneurs at the absolute forefront of the industry’s development, like Trustly, Tink, Klarna, iZettle, Lendo and others. And capital is in abundance, which equals a healthy financing climate. One of the biggest challenges for Sweden as a tech nation is access to top talents, and this continues to be a challenge moving forward.

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. It will be your first time at NOAH Conference this year and we look forward to welcoming you! What are you looking forward to most at the upcoming NOAH Berlin and why have you decided to attend NOAH?

NOAH is a great conference. As we will be entering new markets in Europe in 2020, with our platform, I hope to get to know more companies that could be relevant for collaborations as we grow.