A talk with Erik Bennerhult
In this interview, we introduce Erik Bennerhult, CTO at Näktergal Financial Technology, that will talk on our Main Stage @ BLAST 2017. He has been building bank systems for more than 15 years, and has a few good stories for us!
Tell me about yourself, who is Erik Bennerhult?
Since 1999, I have been building core banking systems for various banks and today I spend my days as CTO at Näktergal, the Stockholm-based banking systems provider. I once launched a Finnish bank from a laptop at Brussels airport.
My love for computers started when I got a ZX81 back in -84. On the rare occasions when I am not ranting on about information security, I can be found at my summer house in the Stockholm archipelago. Somehow, I managed to pinch a silver medal in the national championships in karate 2015. Long story.
When did your adventure at Näktergal start and what about its mission?
Näktergal launched last year and we build bank systems that handle regulatory compliance and automates the workload so banks can focus on marketing & product optimization.
Our first system, Magellan, is a high-performance, massively automated lending system enabling banks to handle superior credit volumes and apply business intelligence to ensure business success.
Our mission is to provide systems that are built for regulatory compliance from the ground up, instead of adding regulatory layer as an afterthought. A little background – I used to work as a CTO at a small Nordic bank and simply could not find systems satisfying the demands regulation and legislation imposed on us. As an example, the Privacy by Design requirement from GDPR is truly hard to retrofit into a system. One does not simply change the way one handles all personal data in a system – that usually warrants a complete rewrite. After much frustration, we decided to see this not as a problem but as a business opportunity. Lo and behold, Näktergal was born.
By the way, Näktergal is Swedish for nightingale.
Let’s talk about Fintech: what is the current situation and in your opinion what are the possible developments?
Banks are struggling to develop their businesses due to legacy systems and an ever-increasing tide of regulation, thereby missing out on vital opportunities.
For years, banks have wanted to replace their systems. Legislation such as GDPR makes the change necessary. I believe that the coming few years, we will see a massive restructuring of the financial landscape, with all major players moving their systems to the next generation. This in turn will bring about new possibilities – a new tech stack will make new services viable and I believe we will see creative and innovative actors move quickly.
On another plane, I am worried about the impact of globalization and big data. With great power comes great responsibility, but I see time and again how short-term profit hunger prevails. This is what I will talk more about when I come down to Rome – what you and I can do to provide a much-needed counterpoint and promote carefulness and sanity in this crazy world we live in.
Do you think that you could change banking on a global scale?
Not by myself, obviously. But I strongly feel the need to work for the change I want to see in the world. And the financial sector has a huge responsibility, in providing stability and services adding long-term value to consumers as well as treating personal data with respect and meticulous care.
And banking is changing on a global scale, I’m just doing all I can to point the change in the right direction.
Do you have an advice for giving talks that have impact?
Wish I did! My approach is simple, I talk about the things that matter to me, and fervently hope that they will matter to others as well.
What does BLAST represent for you and what do you think this event can represent for the digital innovation ecosystem?
I love the fact that Blast is cross-discipline and the idea of cross-pollination of ideas and technology makes my heart smile. I’m more than a little excited to meet people working with Aerospace, for instance – I’m sure we can all learn from the people who actually do work in rocket science!
Finally, what about your future goals?
After presenting at Web Summit in Lisbon last year, we have gained some international traction and are now looking at delivering our solution to countries from Brazil to China. It is truly exciting for us to step out of our home market, the Nordic countries. Currently, we are looking for local partners globally to help us with support, sales and requirements gathering in their respective home markets.
Our goals ahead are to find more great customers around the world that share our love for highly automated systems engineered for information security, accountability and privacy.