The fintech ecosystem is Denmark’s leading unicorn farm

Five unicorns have emerged from the Danish fintech community. According to Copenhagen Fintech, the level of innovation is impressive and the fintech ecosystem has a long way to go before it reaches its peak.

When Copenhagen Fintech Lab opened in 2015, there was some scepticism as to whether the basis for a fintech centre even existed. At the time there were only a handful of fintech startups in Denmark, so the question was, could a critical mass be reached at the Fintech Lab to match its high ambitions of becoming a Nordic powerhouse?

After all, Pleo, Lunar and Chainalysis were very young startups at the time. Today all three are unicorns – companies valued at over USD 1 billion. And the ecosystem is full of unicorns – the number of startups, investments and employees in the fintech industry has exploded.

“I’m still impressed by the pace of innovation. We continue to see new solutions, new developments and a constant stream of innovation. Developments have been very fast. But I get the feeling we’ve only just started,” said Simon Schou, Chief Innovation Officer at Copenhagen Fintech.

Making a difference in the market

The fintech explosion is beginning to see new companies also move in markets that they operate in. The first wave was chiefly in the core of the financial sector with banking services and infrastructure. But here too Schou is beginning to see a change, which will make the sector more visible to end users.

“The real question is, how much of a difference these successful companies actually make. Pleo is a good example of a solution to something that provides real convenience, just as you can swipe with Mobilepay for mobile payments and get help with tax with Skatteguiden and Taxhelper,” said Schou.

At the same time, he points out that there is a particularly large number of solutions that shall help the financial function in small and medium-large companies – like Moneyflow, where you can delay payment and Crediwire, which analyses financial data in real time. Solutions that show there is still room for many new fintech companies.

“We see solutions that are beginning to impact consumers with real improvements. But if we take a look around, there is absolutely a great deal that can be improved. There are still many places where there is a long way to go to the Uber experience, where all the financial stuff is just flexible and attractive,” said Schou.

A common focal point

In just under a decade, Copenhagen Fintech has become a strong focal point for financial innovation – and also for the established industry. In 2016 there were seven partners, while in 2022 there are 50 partners, which is a strong indication that the financial industry wants to be involved in the startup environment.

At the same time, the cluster has really got wind in its sails with regard to its ambition to become a complete Nordic powerhouse, able to compete with global financial hubs – most recently with Nordic Fintech Week, where all of the countries’ ecosystems were represented.

“We want a platform where we can engage everyone. Copenhagen is really having an impact in fintech, but if you want to have an impact, then it’s important that there is a focal point you can relate to – a centre you can call up and visit,” said Schou.

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