Ludvig Öberg is the co-founder of Safello, SC2BTC, Swedish Bitcoin Foundation and Satoshi Square Stockholm. One of Veckans Affärers top 101 Supertalents of 2016 with over 5 years of experience within Blockchain and Bitcoin. He started Safello in 2013 and since then it has become one of the leading bitcoin exchanges in Sweden. Last year he joined ChromaWay, that is developing blockchain and smart contract solutions.
How did you start your career in fintech?
It wasn’t on a hackathon, I actually started my career by co-founding Safello with three other people. I am myself more of a business background.
As we know humans learn only from mistakes, could you tell us your biggest professional fuckup?
It probably has to do something with different press releases, when something went wrong and we needed to fix it and half of the article came out with the right message and half of it did not.
But otherwise it might be like being overconfident with a client and at the end we couldn’t deliver in time. These were not single events, but more like general mistakes I’ve been doing. The important thing is to learn from these mistakes and ask for help if you need to. Don’t be afraid to take the advice of those who have more experience than you do.
Why do you think there is so much buzz around fintech?
A few years ago we didn’t really know which way things would go. We didn’t know if we had to fight this technology and try to keep it out or try to join and innovate. Now I think it is clear that the second option should be taken and we need to integrate it into our systems. That, together with opening up data and encouraging open competition, can lead to better services for customers.
We need to push this fintech wave and we’ll only grow if we follow these trends like in the new EU regulatory framework, so there will be more and more competition where fintech startups are coming and take a bit of the cake.
Being very traditional and staggering entities, what do you think can help banks to survive in this situation?
They should not only innovate for the innovation’s sake — as I feel that most banks are innovating for the PR. They should actually look for long-term goals and how it integrates with their system and with who they are as a company.
If you only do a shallow corporation, then it does not lead to anything long-term and it will be just a waste of time for everybody. Banks need to think about integrating the ideas created in startup ecosystems. Different banks are doing this in different ways, but most of the time there is someone high up, like a Chief Innovation Manager, who knows the whole corporate structure and who can help startups to get to the right places within the banks.
Also, banks cannot do everything, and I think that the time, when banks provided all services for everyone is over and they have to specialize in what they are good at and cooperate with new startups and people offering services and integrate these for their customers.
Still the banks are the hubs where customers are looking for all the services. I think they should dare to perceive it as an ecosystem where other people can have access to their customers, rather than to let them leave and go away from the main platform.
If you had a chance to meet, Ben Bernanke, what would you tell him?
I would probably ask him about all his negative comments about bitcoin and then the way he became a pro in the blockchain technologies, so I would probably talk with him about that. He probably has some Keynesian economic thoughts, but it would be interesting to hear how bitcoin will fit into the current infrastructure in the financial sector.
Which area do you think is a game changer in fintech right now and why?
Cryptocurrencies, and blockchange technologies are game changers because they have the capabilities to change the whole financial industry not just a specific sector. I think it can do it so in a very substantial way. I see this as if it was the start of the internet, we can build new applications and a whole new infrastructure, which makes me very enthusiastic about it.
If you were hitting on a girl/man working with fintech, what would be your pickup line?
Some people have called me the Mr. Bitcoin of Sweden, so I might would use that one then. Hopefully it would work 😀
How would you pitch fintech to a 6 years old kid?
If you look at how the world has changed, you might see that your parents used to read newspapers, now you have an iPad. If you look at the banks, the same thing happens. The future of banks are going to be drastically different. That is quite natural, so it is very interesting field to be in, because it affects everyone. Everyone uses financial services, everyone takes a loan or buy things, send payments, and so on.
Who is the Elon Musk of fintech on your opinion?
I would say that is Satoshi Nakamoto, who invented bitcoin, but we don’t know who that is. So I think that Sebastian from Klarna is doing a great job if we are looking at Sweden. I think that there are lot of people who are doing a great work, but I wouldn’t say that any of them are superstars, but I think that there are a lot of different companies doing a lot of cool things.
Continuing question about Elon Musk, do you think that there will be banks on Mars?
If we get to Mars, there are probably gonna be banks, yes, I assume so. How will they look when we come to that point, I don’t know. There might be a delete all and might not be physical banks on Mars, but at least there may be banking services.
Do you think cryptocurrencies will take over traditional currencies?
Yes, i think we are getting closer and closer there. I think we might end up with a lot of different ones, we might end up with different national currencies, but more and more of the kind of traditional fashion is to look at bitcoin and blockchain technologies and kind of use that technology to get an updated infrastructure, so we might end up in a world, where bitcoin will be a world currency that is not used for everyday purchases, but more for international transactions.
Are you using bitcoin from time to time?
Yes, I use bitoins often. Webhallen in Sweden is one of the biggest stores you can use Bitcoins to buy electronics, for example. I have bought T-shirts, and so on. I don’t do it on a daily basis, but I do use bitcoins regularly.
What message would you send to wannabe entrepreneurs?
You should dare to take risks and get help from other people. Throw yourself out there and try to validate your ideas and see if they stick and get help from other people, because you don’t know everything when you are starting up. So dare things, that is my most important piece of advice.
Do you there throwing yourself out there? Join us and try on Startup Weekend Fintech on the 27–29 January in SUP46!
More information about the event and registration here: http://www.up.co/communities/sweden/stockholm/startup-weekend/10233
Use the code Minus40ToDisruptors to get a special -40% discount from Ludvig!