How Local And Collaborative Innovation Transformed Payments in Sweden

Posted on Thursday, 01 Sep 2016

Banking & finance have historically not been considered as industries where innovation happens. Quite the contrary if you would ask the general public, but in recent years we've seen start-ups like the Swedish company Tink and the American investment-platform Acorns reshape the business landscape. These start-ups are often characterised by their digital solutions which generally are more user-friendly and intuitive than the traditional banks'. However, in this blog post we'll share a story about collaborative innovation and more specifically Swish which is a creation by the six biggest banks in Sweden.  

Swish is a mobile payments app that enables anyone to transfer money in real-time via a connected mobile phone to any mobile number that is connected to the service. The app is perfect for those times when you need to split the tab, buy something from a friend or just lend or pay someone money. Moreover, it can be used for mobile payments at stores, restaurants and cafés. The app was collaboratively created by the six largest banks in Sweden and launched in 2012, and today four years later the app has more than 3.7 million private users and 24,700 business clients. 
What was the key to their success and the secret behind the rapid adoption? The answer is simple; seamless user experience and great service design.  Another very important aspect that can explain their success is of course security, and since it was launched by the biggest banks in Sweden, people felt confident that it was safe to use. The app was cleverly launched in a campaign where only a few handpicked brand ambassadors where given access to the app. Furthermore, Swish was promoted via smart media collaborations with companies such as Tradera (the Swedish equivalent of eBay) and (a community for sports parents). After some time they started noticing how clusters were taking shape and people started talking about the benefits of the app. 
Yet more proof of the success of the app emerged in December 2015 when the brand name, "Swish" was made into a verb ("swisha) and added to nyordslistan (the list of new words) by Språkrådet (The Language Council of Sweden). 
What we at Thinque think is so fascinating about this case study is that it's such a rare case of how collobarative and local innovation can have huge impact and create new consumer behaviours. Moreover, this case study shows us that even big banks and traditional organisations can be innovative and create something that truly simplifies and help people in their daily lives. 

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