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“Open Banking key issue of past decade”

Image of Martina Wallenberg.
Martina Wallenberg, Head of Open Banking .

Since spring 2019, Martina Wallenberg has been in charge of this high-priority area for SEB. Open Banking is about financial actors opening up and sharing data in order to create new services that generate added value for customers.

Having been involved in and pitching a business idea in SEB’s Innovation Lab, Martina Wallenberg started to work on development of digital customer journeys and products in the bank. Eventually she was involved with and started Business Development, a business area within the Digital Banking unit which would work with potential digital business assignments.

“Much of my career with the bank has been about identifying the next step within my area, what this signifies for SEB and then implementing it,” she says.

The team chose to focus most on Open Banking, which became highly topical with the EU’s second Payment Services Directive, PSD 2. The Directive opens up the market for financial services and means among other things that banks must have open APIs. The first thing SEB needed to do was to set up a developer portal.

“If, for example, I need a payment service in my digital product, I can go to SEB’s developer portal and look at our APIs. Is there something there that I can use? This also applies of course to how we can use services from other companies to make life simpler for our customers,” says Martina Wallenberg.

Open Banking part of SEB’s Vision 2025

In 2018, Open Banking was placed in SEB’s Vision 2025 as one of the key development areas for the bank. In spring 2019 it became a separate organisation and Martina Wallenberg got the job of head of Open Banking.

“Banking in the future is tightly linked to Open Banking. It’s important for SEB to be a value-creating component of customer ecosystems. This applies both to pure-play financing operations but also other services in the future.”

The team constantly reviews what additional APIs the bank can offer, primarily within banking, account and payment services. At the same time they look at what type of data SEB can obtain from outside to give its customers an even better service.

Martina Wallenberg gives as an example a customer who buys insurance via the bank. Using data collected from several actors, the customer can feel secure that the insurance covers all his or her needs.

“We develop this area entirely from the customer’s perspective.”

Why do you want to work with Open Banking?

“I enjoy obtaining masses of information, directions and customer needs and boiling this down to a way forward – and this is exactly what Open Banking is all about. I also find coding interesting. It’s important to understand this in order to produce a good business model.”

Why is Open Banking important for a major bank?

“I see this as the bank’s most critical and important issue of the last decade. Open Banking creates conditions for integrated financial services within the technologies and platforms that appear in the ecosystem – such as Internet of Things or Machine Learning. We want to be a value-creating bank for our customers’ future and this means we must develop our products and services. But it requires an understanding for what is at the heart of the bank, the infrastructure and how customers are related to this in order take the next step. The bank that succeeds in solving this, will have a fantastic advantage.”