Innovation in Sweden: The Swedish unicorn simplifying your online shopping

Innovation in Sweden: The Swedish unicorn simplifying your online shopping
Photo: Klarna
As part of our new Innovation in Sweden series, SI News introduces you to companies leading the change. This week, we caught up with David Fock, Chief Product Officer at Swedish fintech company Klarna.

Founded in 2005, fintech unicorn Klarna aims to make online shopping easier for everyone. The leading payment provider and newly-licensed bank provides its services to 60 million consumers across 14 countries by revolutionising payment solutions for both shoppers and businesses. With direct payments, pay after delivery or instalment plans, Klarna allows customers to pick their preferred option to pay when and how it suits them best.

“The initial business idea, offering consumers to pay after receiving the goods, actually has some of its roots in the mail-order catalogue,” explains Fock. “We introduced this offering to the market at a time when consumers were hesitant to shop online as it was widely regarded as unsafe, complicated and frustrating.”

He adds that “separating the payment from the purchase solved that, and invoked trust for the consumer as you wouldn’t pay for the goods until you knew you wanted to keep them.”

Of course, a lot has changed since the company was launched but David states that “what has not changed is that consumers and merchants want simple, safe and smooth online payments which is as relevant today as it was back when we founded the company.”

Photo: David Fock, Chief Product Officer at Klarna

Things move fast in the digital age, and no ones wants to waste time handling their finances. To that David says: “Our mission is to liberate humanity from all the meaningless time spent managing their purchases and finances, so they can do more of what they love.”

Klarna’s innovation process centres on creating value and making payment processes easier for customers. David views technology not as a means to an end when it comes to innovation, but as a means to improve customer experience.

“We continually strive to simplify that which is unnecessarily complex, but we do not innovate for the sake of innovation and view technology as the means to solve challenges and achieve our goals,” he says, adding that “in order to encourage creativity and ownership we organise our people in smaller units that focus on improvements within specific problem spaces that are all part of the overall customer experience.”

Stockholm, known as ‘the unicorn factory’ is home to more $1 billion-plus companies per capita than anywhere besides Silicon Valley. Along with Spotify and King amongst others, Klarna’s ascension to the exclusive unicorn club has been a proud feat for the city.

“It’s true that Sweden has produced a number of unicorns and we are very proud to be part of that club,” says David.

He believes many factors can explain the innovative spirit bubbling in Sweden.

“I strongly believe the strong educational system has been instrumental but also smaller things like general access to the internet and home computers policies have been key enablers.”

Indeed, Swedes are famously early adopters of technology. The country’s free education has led to a highly educated and digital-savvy population – aided by a tax break offered by the Swedish government in the 1990s for people who wanted to buy computers.

It’s no wonder then that Stockholm has been dubbed one of the world’s most innovative cities.

“There is a strong start-up environment and entrepreneurship is encouraged, and these are definitely factors that we have benefited from,” concludes David. 

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