A fireside chat with Per Bolund, Sweden’s Minister of Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs

Per Bolund, Sweden’s Minister of Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs, dropped by Trustly last week during his whirlwind tour of FinTech companies around Stockholm. In a fireside chat with CEO Oscar Berglund, moderated by Head of Marketing Stefan Backlund, Bolund extolled the virtues of Stockholm as a European FinTech hub and discussed the challenges and opportunities at hand.

“I believe, in many aspects, we are already a really great hub and more and more companies are finding it interesting to be in Stockholm,” said Bolund. “We know that many global investors are looking at Stockholm and coming here trying to find new opportunities. In my view, that will only continue and we will do what we can from the government side to make that happen.”

When asked about the one thing that can help Stockholm become a more competitive FinTech hub, Berglund pointed to comfortability with regulation. “I think the challenge for a small FinTech company is not tech issues and it’s not about attracting people; it’s about learning to be regulated because a lot of these companies don’t have a history of being regulated,” he said. Berglund encouraged an open, informal dialogue that lets companies ask questions and give guidance to the government.

Bolund added that on the government side, officials are continuously working hard to ensure that it is simple and affordable enough to start up a business and get a license. “And then, of course, there is having liberal labor regulation so that it is possible to have the best brains from all over the world, which is also quite crucial for a FinTech hub like Stockholm,” he said. This is especially critical considering Brexit, which may make it harder for talent to flow freely throughout Europe.

So what’s the secret sauce of successful Swedish startups?

“Well I think that one reason why there are many actors in Sweden is that we are a country that has really adopted technology and welcomed new ways to do our everyday business,” Bolund said. “We are a country of early adopters when it comes to technology and that is something that really sets the stage for trying new ideas and testing new technologies.”

By welcoming digitalization, rather than seeing it as a threat like in some parts of society, Bolund said that we can make our everyday life much better in the future.