Nordea brings fintech for women by women

Bank’s female-only hackathon comes up with new ideas for financial services aimed at improving women’s financial wellbeing

Sweden’s Nordea bank recently co-arranged a successful female-only hackathon in Stockholm Town Hall where teams of volunteers worked to create, among other things, an app and social media tools that can help increase women’s knowledge of, and interest in, investing and saving.

The event was a big success, said Lotta Bourgoin, deputy head of digital wealth at Nordea.

Participants in the sponsored hackathon spent a weekend together working on ideas that they turned into real examples, including a prototype of an app, and demonstrated it before a jury. There were eight teams, and tech experts were on hand.

The teams came up with ideas to prove that apps and social media, among other digital tools, are useful for reaching female bank customers and helping them to raise their level of economic wealth.

Bourgoin told Computer Weekly that it is a well-known fact that women have fewer savings than men, but she pointed out that women can be better than men at investing, often achieving higher return rates. Bourgoin has worked at Nordea for four years, focusing on savings and on digitising the bank’s offerings in this area.

In her opening speech at the event, Bourgoin recounted an interesting example from the UK, in which a group of people invested a specific sum as they liked during a three-year period and then compared the results. The women in that challenge ended up 2% better off than the men, said Bourgoin. So, getting women started on saving and investing is definitely the right way forward, she added.

“How can we get women to take better control? The tools developed here are meant to make it easier to increase women’s awareness,” said Bourgoin.

According to Bourgoin’s colleague at Nordea, Signe Åfors, who helped to arrange the hackathon, the idea is to improve the situation for women by arming them with knowledge and the practical means to carry out their financial plans.

The hackathon teams worked out suggestions, for example general communication, how to use social media tools, blogs and other digital communication methods, such as marketing.

A total of 120 people signed up for Nordea’s challenge on the hackathon web page before the actual event. This was the first time Nordea had arranged such an event and it did so in cooperation with Stockholm Tech Fest and other sponsors, including Microsoft.

“It was super exciting to gather that many women at the same event. Every company had one challenge each,” said Bourgoin.

“We at Nordea had a vote internally and decided on the theme of how women can take control of their finances and their situation in terms of savings. How can we reach out, attract more interest, increase understanding and actually help women with this?”

“At Nordea, we saw a good result from the event. It tells us that the issue of women and finance is not only very important, but also interests a lot of people outside the bank, who came and spent the weekend working for this.”

Read more about women in fintech

The hackathon was held over a weekend. At the start, Nordea staff gave an introduction about the bank's opportunities and products for investing and saving. Åfors, who has been with Nordea for less than a year, used to be a part-time worker when she was a university student. She brought the knowledge of her academic background to the event, which was an important element for many of the participants.

The groups formed themselves at the event. The jury examined their results and announced a winner.

Bourgoin, who sat on the jury, said all the teams came up with useful solutions. They had even interviewed people in the street about the best ways to plan their personal finances, and Bourgoin noticed that the teams came up with better answers when they included people with a variety of backgrounds in development, culturally and work experience. “The beauty of a hackathon is that you work together with people with many different skills and get more done faster,” she said.

The winning team’s idea was a tool for women to use to share their personal stories, sharing experiences with each other about financial strategies. The team also included a community tool for asking questions and getting replies from other users. They had also put in links to the bank’s web pages that users could log on to easily to read about a specific topic and the bank’s investing and saving products.

Since the event, the winners, Team Klipsk, have twice presented and demonstrated their app to other people at Nordea.

The app and learning site they created could have an inspirational impact at Nordea when the bank continues its own work to find better ways to strengthen Swedish women’s control of their personal finances.

Nordea is Sweden’s largest bank and one of the biggest in the Nordics, with 10 million customers using its financial services.

The bank arranges hackathons internally many times a year, but this was the first time it had invited people from outside the bank to take part.

The hackathon was held under the Stockholm Tech Fest’s umbrella, a tech hub that arranges many technology events in Sweden.

“Nordea has long positioned itself in the fintech scene and is an active player in relation to tech hubs,” said Bourgoin. “That gave us the chance to sponsor this hackathon event.”

Nordea and Klipsk are discussing possible continued cooperation.

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