Interview with: Gustaf Hult

 

Head of BaaS sales at Intergiro – Banking as a Service is something that is here and now, and not only a buzzword. Gustaf is on a mission to change the way businesses operate by making embedded finance a reality. He believes that this will help companies access new revenue streams, improve customer experiences, and reduce transaction costs.

Contract Gustaf in LinkedIn

1. What can you tell us about Intergiro?

Intergiro is a Swedish fintech company that functions as a complete financial ecosystem, as it provides a comprehensive variety of financial solutions such as business banking, Banking as a Service (BaaS), and card acquiring services to businesses in Europe. The APIs we deliver allows businesses to automate their full financial flow or provide banking services to their customers.

A key differentiator is that, as a card acquirer, card issuer, and licensed banking provider, our BaaS clients only need to partner with Intergiro to receive, exchange and send funds, either via card or bank wire. This also means that customers can on-ramp money into their platform or product faster than with any other financial player in the industry.

 

2. Please describe your industry/main markets.

The industry has been lagging behind for some time, as legacy banks have acted as gatekeepers and found it difficult to adjust to new demands from customers. Our main markets are those product builders, innovators and disruptors who would rather get their services delivered digitally and fully automated instead of waiting in line at a traditional bank branch.

 

3. What are Intergiro’s unique points in the banking industry?

Our API-based financial infrastructure enables us to offer banking services that are uniquely bundled and customized for our clients. This infrastructure provides our customers with a one-stop shop for all their financial needs, and gives us a competitive advantage in terms of convenience. For example, in merchant acquiring, banks usually only sell their presence – but we want to be there all the way, without the need to stitch an offer together yourself.

 

4. What are Intergiro’s strengths?

We’ve built everything in-house, so our team is quick-paced and always up for a challenge. This also means that we can deliver full blown card programs in weeks instead of months (or even years). A few years ago, this speed of delivery would have been unheard of.

 

5. What can you tell us about the Swedish banking environment?

Sweden’s banking sector is highly concentrated, with a few large traditional banks dominating. As I mentioned earlier, it’s these types of legacy banks that have served as gatekeepers in the industry, which has made it difficult for new players to enter and compete. As a result, competition in Sweden’s banking market is very limited.

Initiatives like P27, which would make the Nordics an integrated region for cross-border multi-currency payments, do offer some hope. However, for them to be successful, many obstacles must be overcome. Not only must domestic banks agree to participate, but cross-border cooperation must also be streamlined. It takes time, and there’s always a risk that by the time P27 goes to market, its standards will already be outdated. But with continued commitment from all involved, it’s only a matter of time before the Nordics become a truly integrated region.

 

6. Regulation – how does Intergiro cope with the regulations?

We are a fully licensed EMI (e-money institute) through the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Sv. Finansinspektionen, FSA). We have a sophisticated compliance department and a great legal team. Being at the forefront does not mean you can compromise with regulation in any way, but you shape the future. We are certain that many companies really appreciate partnering up with an institution that they can trust has taken care of all the tough parts, leaving them to focus fully on adding value to their clients.

 

7. What are your latest developments?

Our latest development is a remarkable feature that allows clients to use any asset and connect it to a card, whether virtual or physical, without the need to have a specific solution in place at the point of checkout. This is the great advantage of bundling financial services together again, as we can simultaneously act as the acquirer, card issuer and licensed banking provider. Our bundled services are what allow these transactions to take place in real time. For example, you could use loyalty points at 7-Eleven, Co2 emission certificates to pay for gas, or utilize crypto at a supermarket. The possibilities are endless, the only limit is your imagination.

 

8. How do you approach cryptocurrency as a payment method?

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay. They have the potential to revolutionize payments, and I personally believe that all companies should be licensed in order to operate within this industry. In all honesty, crypto companies are pioneers in the payment industry and therefore warrant close attention. At Intergiro, we aim to make life easier for everyone by facilitating a bridge between digital and fiat currencies.

Additionally, we see a need for larger companies who may not be ready (or simply do not want) to have an FX-policy covering crypto. We can do an auto swap from digital currency to any of the currencies they support. In short, they will probably find that it’s not only useful to have a solution for crypto, but rather it will be a necessity. I think that traditional banks are lagging behind in this area and missing out on a great opportunity.

 

9. What direction is the EMI industry going towards in terms of growth after the explosion of companies in the last few years?

A good question really. I think it is now dependent not only on whether you are regulated at all but also on where you are regulated. As interest rates rise, so too does the pressure on companies and consumers to earn interest on their deposits. This can lead to an outflow of funds from EMIs, which in turn can divide the opportunistic from more long-lasting EMIs.

 

10. Can you describe three main opportunities within the banking industry in Europe?

 

1.Embedded finance

In today’s world, convenience is key. People want to be able to get what they need without hassle or delay. This is especially true when it comes to financial products. Consumers want to be able to find and use all of their financial products in one place. There are many ways to do this, but one area that is often overlooked is embedded finance.

Embedded finance refers to having all of your financial products in one place. This could be anything from a debit or credit card to a loan, and everything in between. Having everything in one place not only makes things more convenient for customers, but also helps to streamline processes and improve efficiency.

 

2. Open banking payments

Open banking payments are gaining momentum due to two key trends that started before the pandemic but have accelerated in the last 12 months. The first is the growing pressure to reduce operational costs, which has led to a demand for alternative payments. The second is the need to offer differentiated payment experiences as customers move to digital channels.

As the potential of payment initiation becomes more widely accepted, there are still some key obstacles to mass adoption: few instant payment rails, low user awareness, and poor user experiences. Open banking has the potential to revolutionize payments, but it is still unclear how it will all shake out.

 

3. Community based banking

The banking industry is undergoing a material shift in how businesses and consumers bank with an explosion of new alternative offerings. One of the most interesting phenomena I believe that is developing as part of the fintech revolution is ‘niche banking’. The niche banking model helps meet the needs of a growing segment of the population who feel underserved by traditional banks.

 

If you want to launch your own financial services centered around your communities, Intergiro is here to help. Our banking as a service solution, Intergiro.3d, allows you to leverage our state-of-the-art banking infrastructure to build financial services rapidly and at a low cost. Our suite of APIs are designed to help modern businesses build, adapt and thrive in the digital age, whether you are embedding financial services into your product, acquiring card transactions online or creating innovative new card programs.

 

These are just a few examples of the opportunities that exist in the banking industry in Europe. With so much change happening, it is an exciting time to be involved in the industry. There are many ways to get involved and make a difference.

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