Nordic mobile payment platforms merge

Kjerstin Braathen

Banks in Norway, Denmark and Finland said on Wednesday they agreed to merge their mobile payment platforms to capitalise on demand for digital wallet offerings and to compete against companies like Nexi, AliPay, ApplePay and PayPal.

The three platforms — Danske Bank’s MobilePay, Pivo, owned by Finland’s OP Financial Group, and Vipps, owned by a consortium of Norwegian banks including DNB — serve 11 million users and more than 330,000 shops and web shops.

Danske Bank said the ambition is to create Europe’s most comprehensive digital wallet.

The banks behind Vipps will own 65% of the new parent company Vipps AS, Danske Bank will own 25% and the OP Financial Group will own 10%.

Vipps AS will be headquartered in Oslo, and the company will be subject to supervision by the Norwegian Financial Supervisory Authorities.

Rune Garborg, the current CEO of Vipps, will become the CEO of the merged business. Claus Bunkenborg, the current CEO of MobilePay, will also become a member of the executive board.

Kjerstin Braathen, current chairman of Vipps and CEO of the largest bank in Norway, DNB, will be chairman of the board of directors of the new company.

Danske Bank and OP will appoint members to the board of directors corresponding to their respective ownership shares.

“MobilePay has been a fantastic success,” said Glenn Söderholm, Head of Personal & Business Customers at Danske Bank.

“At Danske Bank, we are proud to have developed MobilePay, which is providing free, user-friendly and innovative solutions to our users and easy, seamless payment solutions to businesses.

“However, it is very expensive to compete with global competitors in this space and in order to continue to develop the most attractive solutions for our customers, MobilePay must be part of something bigger to gain scale and pool investments for further innovation.

“No partnership would be better than teaming up with Norwegian Vipps – it is the perfect match for MobilePay.

“At the same time, it is a great strength that Pivo, owned by Finland’s largest bank, OP, will also be part of the merger.

“We are proud to take part in creating a new and future-oriented fintech business in the Nordic region, and Danske Bank will continue to be a dedicated co-owner of the new business.”

The merger is conditional on approval by the relevant authorities, including the European Commission.

Final approval is expected in the second half of 2021 or in early 2022.

“By bringing a number of well-known brands into the ownership of a joint company, we will be strongly positioned in the market and ensure that we have the necessary scale to continue rapid growth,” said MobilePay CEO Claus Bunkenborg.

“At the same time, we want to convey the message to other leading banks and platforms that we are open for dialogue.

“It is especially important for us that MobilePay’s close cooperation with the other Danish banks can continue.

“The potential participation of other banks may further underpin the ambition to create a strong European player in the payment area.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.