Tell Us About the Business, How Did It Come About?
Meniga was founded in Iceland back in 2009 and is today one of the leading digital banking software providers globally, helping some of the world’s largest financial institutions enhance their digital user experience, drive customer engagement, and stay relevant in the era of the challenger bank.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for over two decades now, and I’ve always had a passion for fintech and a strong desire to start my own personal finance management company, but I actually founded two software companies before I embarked on my latest venture, Meniga. It wasn’t until the financial crash hit in 2008, however, that the opportunity suddenly became much more palpable and I was able to finally turn my passion into a serious business proposition.
At the time, Iceland was hit particularly hard by the financial crisis, with thousands of people experiencing a sudden drop in their income and purchasing power. Everyone was crying out for help, but banks found themselves under immense pressure and were struggling to provide sufficient financial guidance to their customers. I felt that something urgent needed to be done to support these people and help them get their finances back on track. So we created Meniga in 2009, with the vision of helping people lead better financial lives, and it quickly became evident that the most impactful way of fulfilling this vision on a large scale was by partnering directly with banks and developing tools and products that could help their customers and their finances.
Today, we have created the digital standard for banks across all corners of the globe, by partnering with over 165 financial institutions in 30 countries and helping more than 90 million end-users feel better about their finances.
What Have You Learnt So Far?
Over these past two decades since I first became an entrepreneur, one thing I’ve learned is that you need to be bold and prepared to take risks if you want to find success in life. Just like many other entrepreneurs I certainly have risk-taking in my nature, and it’s this very mindset that urged me to start Meniga in the first place, and persevere with the idea through the financial crisis.
That said, what my experience as an entrepreneur has also taught me is to not take anything for granted and to always balance this rather aggressive business strategy with a more cautious mindset. You need a survival plan in place, raise money where possible and rather than just building a buffer for a rainy day, ensure that your revenue streams are solid enough to hold up for a stormy year. In many ways, periods of downturn are inevitable and the next one could very well be just around the corner.
Ultimately, I’ve learned to always expect the unexpected, to be adaptable and ready to change. If you look at the ten plus years since Meniga was founded, the financial landscape has changed dramatically in recent times, through shifts in market trends, increasing competition and new regulations. Our cautious mindset and openness to change over the years has enabled us to adapt when necessary, ensuring that our core product offering is always in line with shifting consumer needs and market demands.
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What Challenges Have You Overcome? How Did You Respond During COVID?
Fortunately for us, the fact Meniga was born out of the last financial crash meant that we didn’t have too many challenges to start with as we were able to get some incredibly skilled people onboard from the start, acquire our first customers very early on, and get our company off the ground really quickly.
Having said that, of course, there have been several challenges along the way that we have had to overcome. One of the most obvious ones is the competitive intensity brought about by the recent shifts in consumer behaviour and new regulations. Since the introductions of PSD2 and Open Banking, the number of challenger banks has multiplied in recent years, while consumers have come to expect increasingly personalised, efficient and transparent services.
In many ways, though, this challenge has helped the company grow by keeping us on our toes and urging us to constantly innovate in order to ensure that our products and services exceed the value proposition of our competitors.
With regards to the pandemic, my previous experiences of crises have meant that we as a company have been reasonably well-prepared and were able to navigate the storm. In particular, seeing as people have been increasingly worrying about their money in one way or another, be it their savings, earnings, or even investments, we decided to shift our core product offering to focus on elements of budgeting and personal finance management in order to respond to the growing demand for tools that helped people get their finances back on track.
What Are Your Plans For Growth?
2020 was one of the busiest years that Meniga has ever had. As personal finance management became even more relevant during the pandemic, with more and more people becoming anxious about their financial situation, the demand for our products and services skyrocketed over the past 18 months. And this surge in demand is far from slowing down any time soon, so I’m confident that we will be able to replicate this success at an even greater scale, and that we will continue to grow and expand our global footprint. We already have a vast array of really exciting partnerships and new innovations in the pipeline, which we can’t wait to unveil in the next few months.
Beyond continuing to support our banks and providing the best possible financial tools for their customers, one important innovative focus for us, which is already gathering a lot of momentum, is our new green banking solution Carbon Insight. The solution allows mobile banking app users to track their carbon footprint, based on individual transaction data, empowering them to alter their spending behaviour, offset their emissions and help save the planet. Earlier this year, Íslandsbanki, the largest bank in Iceland, became the first bank to implement Carbon Insight, and we are currently in the process of launching the same solution with multiple banks around the world.
The demand for Carbon Insight has soared in recent months, as concerns around climate change continue to grow, and as the rapidly growing segment of carbon-conscious consumers rightly demand more of their banks on climate change. We are excited to launch this product in several additional countries in the coming months, and help some of our partner banks play a pivotal role in the fight against climate change.