The Oslo Fintech Fest and why Norway is a role model for, well, everything

Written by on February 15, 2017 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

Well, I’m just back from Oslo where it was a balmy -4 during the Oslo Fintech Fest. The nice people organising this little get-together of a almost a thousand close friends asked me along to give a short talk on the next ten years of Fintech and since some of Consult Hyperion’s favourite Nordic clients were going to be there, I thought I’d take them up on the offer (especially when I saw the great line-up they had for the day).

Another reason for wanting to go along to #OsloFintechFest is that Norway is one of my favourite countries, for several reasons:

  • They don’t use cash. The beggars here have QR codes that you can scan to donate money to them using your mobile wallet.
  • They are obsessed with trolls, and made one of my all-time favourite films, Troll Hunter.
  • They have a functioning bank-led identity infrastructure.

Yes, that’s right. It may sound a little far-fetched, but it’s true. Basically, everyone here uses a bank-provided identity and secure authentication service to do pretty much everything. In a population of 5.2 million, there are 3.5 million people with a BankID widget and a million people with a BankID app on their phones (here’s my fanboy piece about it back in 2006). What started off as secure way to log in to your bank account has morphed into a secure way to log in to everything.

 In 2015 BankID was used 430 million times, a number that has increased year by year as more services are made available. It is a two-factor-solution, with a key fob-style token  –  or an optional mobile app  –  and a BankID password. Customers can use their BankID to lease a car, rent an apartment or enroll for college.

[From Norway adding mobile digital identity function to its BankID program – SecureIDNews]

Sounds pretty good to me. And now they’ve decided to extend the authentication beyond the browser and in-app which is where, as we all know, the action is. They are running a pilot program right now.

Encap’s ‘Smarter Authentication’ is a device-based, multi-factor platform that removes the need for key fobs by enabling authentication to take place inside an app. Encap takes advantage of the device’s authentication capability – Apple’s Touch ID for example – and lets that be used to verify the customer.

[From Norway adding mobile digital identity function to its BankID program – SecureIDNews]

Love in-app. Love local authentication. Love Apple TouchID. I’m green with envy. Why don’t the UK banks have something like this in place?


It was terrific event, with excellent networking and some great panel discussions. I gave a talk about the future of fintech and ended up by talking about Consult Hyperion’s “Live Five” for 2017 so that there were some specific areas of focus for the delegates. Go Norway. I do have one slight area of disagreement with my Norwegian cousins though.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority – Datatilsynet believes people should be able to make purchases without having to leave electronic tracks behind them.

[From Norway to Be a Cashless Country – The Nordic Page – Economy]

I’m unconvinced. I think the disadvantages of unconditional anonymity greatly outweigh the benefits of managed pseudonymity. Hence the next step for BankID should be to deliver a functional bank-led multi-identity pseudonymity service (so that when you are asked for your identity, a menu of identities pops up on your phone for you to choose from: e.g. “David G.W. Birch“, Dave Birch”, “Lord Tantamount Horseposture” or “G. Jesus Saves”) and show the rest of us how it is done.

This article was first published on Tomorrow’s Transactions.

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About the Author

About the Author: Dave is Director of Consult Hyperion, the secure electronic transactions consultancy and is an internationally-recognised thought leader in digital identity and digital money. Named in Wired magazine’s global top 15 favourite sources of business information; rated one of the NextBank “Fintech Titans”; voted one of the European “Power 50” people in digital financial services and ranked Europe’s most influential commentator on emerging payments. .


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