Apr 13, 20221 min read

Five days shaping the future of Klarna in the UK.

Klarna K logo

by Klarna

At Klarna we are customer obsessed. We strive to save consumers time and money, and stay informed and in control of their day to day finances. Most of the time that means building great products; sometimes it means supporting others to build great products, which we’ve been doing a lot of recently. 

In the UK we are blessed with a large number of bold entrepreneurs whose only goal is to smash through established ways of banking and build better products that benefit consumers, not bankers. This makes us at Klarna feel very at home in the UK! And it’s why we now employ 500 people in the UK, which is more than double what it was in early 2020. And we are always looking for ways we can support this community. 

Recently, this band of misfits and rebels came together for the Innovate Finance Global Summit – the biggest event of the year for UK fintech. Nearly 2,000 people gathered to discuss the nuts and bolts of building better financial services for all. Run over Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th April, the conference kicked off a whirlwind week for Klarna during which we truly set the world to rights. 

This industry will shrink. 

We were honoured, and more than a little bit excited, that our Co-founder and CEO, Sebastian Siemiątkowski, got top billing with a keynote fireside chat early on day one. During a lively session, moderated by Anne McElvoy, of The Economist, Sebastian predicted, “This industry will shrink,” before laying out how Klarna will ‘create an alternative to traditional banking services’ in a future where ‘financial services will truly serve consumers’. 

Opening up banking.

A huge part of this is Open Banking, which is a way to put consumers in control of the data in their bank accounts, not banks. At Klarna we love this idea because it will force the old banks to improve their service to win more customers, instead of relying on people not bothering to change their bank accounts. In fact we love it so much, we bought Europe’s largest open banking provider, SOFORT, in 2014. Our Open Banking network is now the largest in the world and we were showing it to exciting new fintechs at the conference. 

Lots of progress. Lots of opportunity to do more.

Later on day one, our head of UK, Alex Marsh was on stage discussing the Government’s plans to continue to attract the best brains in financial tech. Alex was characteristically optimistic: the British government has done a lot to support the startups trying to make financial services put consumers first. But there’s more to be done, especially when it comes to delivering regulations which protect consumers, not banks.

Supporting fintechs and SMEs. 

And that was just Monday! On Tuesday, we got back to our Swedish roots, with Alex Marsh (again) helping fintechs from the Nordics and Baltics grow by learning from Klarna’s experience, at the ‘Ecosystem Exchange: Fintech in London’ organised by Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK.  

We finished Tuesday by kicking off the first in a series of 8 nationwide roadshows, meeting SMEs from across the country. We started in London with a spectacular event where Alex Marsh (yes, him again!) discussed “How to transform your side hustle into the next big thing” with Emma Jones from Enterprise Nation and Matt Kennedy from Fussy (and recent Dragons Den winner). 

Driving Diversity.

Fintech entrepreneurs are bold, brilliant and relentless, but they are not especially diverse. This matters because more women and minorities join the mission to make banking better for consumers, we all benefit. 

That’s why (guess who?) Alex Marsh joined EY and Innovate Finance to discuss how to improve gender diversity in our industry, at the ‘Changing the face of UK FinTech’ event with Anita Kimber Sharon Chen and Julia Streets – sharing the findings from EY’s upcoming report on Diversity & Inclusion. With the conviction of the people in that room there’s great hope the sector will now take decisive action.

On the road. 

On Thursday it was time to take the UK SME Accelerator on the road to Stockton-on-Tees. Alex Marsh (yet again…) and Luke Seaman, our head of UK public affairs, met local business leaders, industry groups, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council representatives and local MP Mat Vickers to discuss the future of retail – and how other towns can learn from Stockton as they think about rebuilding their vibrant high streets. Special thanks to Jason West from LUSSO Footwear for sharing his experiences over lunch. The day was completed by joining a group of students from Stockton Riverside College to talk about careers in FinTech and e-commerce. They put Alex on the spot with some seriously challenging questions!

Thank City A.M., it’s Friday. 

All that was left on Friday was to look back on an amazing week with the good folks at City AM. Charlie Conchie and Lily Russell-Jones sat down with you-know-who to talk about why UK consumers are ditching credit cards for interest-free BNPL, the future of UK regulation post Brexit and the important role of Fintech in the current cost of living crisis, for the City AM Tech Weekly podcast. You can listen in here.