Swedish Startup Space

Tink: ‘My bank is still only a transaction list and has been so for the past decade’

Written by on September 20, 2013

Today we’re talking with Fredrik Hedberg from Tink – a new personal finance startup that just launched this week.

Tell us a little about your background

I was born and raised in the south of Sweden – always been interested in solving problems and building things, and developing software was a pretty great outlet for that growing up.

Professionally, I’ve worked for various software companies, mostly in engineering, both here in Europe and in the US, and also founded a telecommunications technology company in Sweden called Telavox. After spending some time in San Francisco, working for an investment firm, I moved back to Sweden and founded Tink together with Daniel Kjellén in 2012. Daniel’s the CEO and I have the CTO role. We’ve grown to 9 people and have an amazingly talented team!

So, what is Tink and what problem are you solving?

Tink is an app, for web and mobile, that helps people organize their personal finances. We gather information from all your banks and credit-card providers automatically, categorize and analyze all your transactions, and present a holistic picture of your finances using intuitive and fun visualizations.

We think that there’s a fundamental and universal problem in today’s ever-increasingly complex economy, where the number of financial providers has exploded; with everything from new niche-banks, new types of digital currencies, and innovative payment companies such as iZettle, leading to massive sets of unstructured personal finance data that is hard for consumers to make sense of.

We hope Tink can help people get a better hold of their personal finances, feel less stress about it, and to get great advice on how to save and spend smarter!

Tell us a little about the competitive landscape, especially here in Sweden. What do you offer that your competitors can’t?

Sweden is pretty symptomatic for the rest of Europe in that there’s a plethora of products out there that helps people with their personal finances in different ways. Many of the products available do a great job in what they do, but mostly caters to people who are very interested in, and already spend a lot of time with, their personal finances.

What we hope to do at Tink is to reduce the complexity when it comes to personal finance and make it a simple, beautiful and fun experience for everybody – not only for accountants and finance geeks such as ourselves.

A great example of this is the Tink Feed that we launched this week with the release of our iPhone app, something that brings a whole new perspective to personal finance and really is a world’s first. What the feed does is that it presents key insights and events that are important to you, and hides all the noise that isn’t.

This has proven to be extremely appreciated during user testing and allows you to consume your own personal finances in an easy and fun way, wherever you are and whenever you have a few minutes over.

These types of products really require a mix of skills and we have an extremely talented team to do so. It’s not only about being able to make an app that draws charts; it’s about understanding what makes a great user experience, design it beautifully and intuitively, the ability to make sense of hundreds of millions of transactions, creating machine learning algorithms that source data from dozens of sources, scaling the technology behind it and understanding the actual drivers in consumer behavioral economics and personal finance.

Personal finance is heating up for sure, just last week Schibsted bought Compricer for 135 M SEK. Why specifically is personal finance so hot right now?

I think a lot of people simply recognize that personal finance in its entirety has a lot of room for improvement – my bank is still only a page-able transaction list for me and has been so for the past decade – and the equivalent is true for many of other types of financial services providers.

We’ve seen such incredible innovation in so many information related industries, which is what personal finance and banking inherently is – with everything from Google in information management and Facebook in communications, to lesser-romanticized industries, where information technology has revolutionized and made entire markets more efficient.

This has not been the case on the consumer side of the financial industry where the incumbents are rather working to stifle transparency, consumer choice and competition, than innovating for the benefit of the consumer. And where there are inefficient markets ripe for innovation, and a whole lot of money involved, people are usually pretty interested.

Where do you want Tink to be in 5 years?

We have a vision of helping people organize all their personal information – we’d like to see ourselves in the future like somewhat of a virtual assistant or a personal CFO; that takes care of all of your personal finances and administrative duties without you having to worry. In the long-term, we’ll strive to broaden the scope of information services we aggregate and help you manage, and to be smarter in the types of intelligent and automatic advice we can provide you with.

In the short run, we see Sweden as a perfect test-market for our first version, but are already looking to expand into new markets in the near future, with clear ambitions to be the next international information technology company coming out of our lovely Sweden.

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