The FinTech playing field: creating value through partnerships

Interview with Petter Lee-Johannessen, SVP, Head of Strategic Partnerships, DNB

The Nordic FinTech landscape is one of the most exciting and fast-paced hubs for innovation in the world, thanks to the region’s entrepreneurial spirit. With game-changing services such as Klarna and Vipps going from strength to strength, it’s time for traditional banks to re-think partnership strategies and collaborate with new players on the market. We spoke to Petter Lee-Johannessen, a strong believer in the power of partnerships, to get his thoughts on collaboration strategies, top FinTechs to watch and more.

“I feel that for many industry leaders in the Nordics, it’s all about the opportunity to expand and improve the market for all, not just for themselves.”

What excites you about the Nordic FinTech scene right now?

There is a lot that excites me about the Nordic FinTech scene and, coming from an incumbent bank perspective, there’s two ways to look at it: there are the FinTechs that challenge us and there are the FinTechs that directly deliver products and services to us. Both make us better every day. We are in a unique position in the Nordics, as not only do we rank amongst the top countries in the world when it comes to happiness and quality of life, but we also have strong democratic systems, high levels of digitalisation and a unique culture of trust among citizens. All these factors create a strong foundation for partnerships, collaboration and innovation. I feel that for many industry leaders in the Nordics, it’s all about the opportunity to expand and improve the market for all, not just for themselves. You need only look to Klarna from Sweden, Tradeshift from Denmark and Vipps from Norway to see the region’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Why is it important for banks and FinTechs to collaborate?

The finance industry is evolving faster than ever, driven by changes in customer preferences, technology, regulation and increased competition. Therefore, from an incumbent bank perspective, it makes a lot of sense to partner up with FinTechs, to be able to stay ahead of the competition and stay relevant for our customers.  With the fast shift to digital, we are not able to create everything ourselves and need to partner up to create the best products and services for our customers. We also need to stay informed of and keep up with the important changes in our industries, so it’s important to be out there – partnering up with cutting edge FinTechs, investing in them and helping them grow. Our accelerator program is an excellent example of that. Venture investment in FinTech is also an important innovation tool for us.

From the FinTech perspective, there are many reasons to partner with banks – we have a lot to offer. Firstly, a more well-defined and stable client base. Secondly, we can give your FinTech a stamp of trust with our recognized brand. Furthermore, as banks tend to have bigger investment budgets, we can provide a flow of capital to further develop FinTech services. Lastly, banks have a lot of internal know-how and knowledge in areas that FinTech firms can benefit from, such as legal and regulatory compliance and risk management.

“Some areas that I’m following particularly closely are payments, SME financing, ESG, housing, mobility and digital currency.”

Are there any exciting new FinTechs or start-ups that you’ve got your eye on?

At DNB, we have a wide range of FinTechs and start-ups on our radar and we’re collaborating with some of them in our next DNB Accelerator #5 program.  We’ve only just opened up the applications for this, so we’re unable to announce any names just yet! Aside from that, we are looking into a few possible investments through our DNB Ventures arm and have several on-going partnership discussions, but unfortunately, I’m not able to reveal any names here either. Some areas that I’m following particularly closely are payments, SME financing, ESG, housing, mobility and digital currency. I would recommend taking a look at StartupLab in Norway’s portfolio to find some of the hottest FinTechs and startups right now.

What are you most looking forward to about the FinTech Evening?

Like many of us, I’m craving to meet people in real life again and not just sitting in front of a screen! I’m looking forward to making new acquaintances, hearing exciting discussions and gaining insights into promising tech startups and potential partnerships. There are always good speakers at these events that I like to take notes from and I’m also looking forward to being a speaker myself. Either way, don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to partner with DNB or just want to chat. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Petter is a true believer of the power of partnerships making 1+1=3. He spent most of his professional carrier building world class partnership teams and global partnerships with leading tech companies like Google, Facebook and Tencent, working for corporates like Telenor and DNB. He has a Master of Science degree from NTNU. After his study he co-founded his own tech startup in Germany and he has also been part of several of other startups. Today Petter holds the title as Senior Vice President and Head of Strategic Partnerships at DNB.

To hear more from Petter, join MoneyLIVE Nordic Festival’s FinTech Evening which is taking place in-person in Copenhagen on 13 October!

Petter is joining a fireside chat where he will be discussing: Facing disruption together: embracing FinTech partnerships to redefine the future of banking. Spaces are limited, so hurry and book yours now!


The MoneyLIVE Autumn Festival is reuniting the banking and payments community with our highly anticipated Big Meet-Up in London on 17 November, plus five immersive Virtual Episodes.

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, will you be part of it?

Stay in the loop with MoneyLIVE

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive news, insights and special offers.