Life at Northmill continues, as we talk with Chief Analytics Officer Magnus Eriksson. Magnus explains the role of analytics at Northmill, discusses GDPR, and the opportunities we face as Northmill continue its journey to transform consumer finance.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I'm a classic "Nerd" if that is a word that is still allowed to use. I love computer games and board games, especially if they involve strategy and competition! I also have, and have always had, a big interest in finance/economics. I've got vivid memories from watching the news program "A-ekonomi" on TV when I was seven years old and the Swedish financial crisis unfolded. This has brought me to work with analytics in both the credit industry and video game sector.
What is the role of analytics at Northmill?
The overarching goal for the team is to support business decisions at Northmill. We use data-driven facts to help the company make the best possible decisions. All the way from how we design our products to how we establish credit ratings. The development is happening pretty rapidly; many techniques, like machine learning are really changing how we work.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m planning our workload and setting a working methodology for the Analytics team, as well as finding ways for us to grow both as people and as a team. I mean this both figuratively and literally; with our rapid growth, our team will be expanding soon. So a big chunk of my time will be dedicated to finding the right people to come on board.
What’s going to be important for the analytics team in 2018?
We predict the future, which is both rewarding and challenging. We look at what’s happening within immediate months to come; from a company perspective, what will we be our revenue and profit for next year?
"In the long run, GDPR is beneficial for both the customer and us."
Regulations like GDPR set strict standards on what kind of information companies can gather about their customers. How will this affect data collection and analytics going forward for Fintech companies?
It’s incredibly exciting. GDPR will affect our way of work in a huge way; mostly in terms of compliance. Since all data points will soon have to be stored for a specific reason, there’ll be a rigid structure for how we communicate customer information and why we need it. In the short run, that means we have to do some overhauls to how we store data. However, in the long run, this is beneficial for both the customer and us. Customers can be assured that we only collect information that is essential for us to offer our service, while we become more purposeful and aware of the data we store. This gives us more control and focus as our way of discussing data internally becomes more standardized.
Northmill is close to launching Rebilla, the first step towards our mobile-first, digital finance. How will that impact how we work with analytics?
We need to understand our customer's needs and wishes better as Northmill moves towards products like Rebilla. While we aim to simplify finance with it, it’s a more complicated product on our end compared to what we’ve built in the past. It will not be enough to look at general trends among our customers; we need to make sure we give the best experience possible based on our customer’s particular preferences. It’s not an overnight change when we launch our app; but the more products we have, the larger the need is to gather data that is actionable and pragmatic.
What does change overnight is how much we report to regulatory authorities. By offering financial services, we get much stricter demands on what type of company and customer information we share.
"The more products we have, the larger the need is to gather data that is actionable and pragmatic."
Before joining Northmill, you worked with analytics at a video game company. Is there anything that these industries can learn from each other?
Within analytics, definitely. The concept of being "data-driven" comes almost naturally for a financial business but within gaming it is often difficult to let go of the idea that feelings and experiences cannot be translated into numbers. But overall I think it’s interesting to see the similarities; both fintech and gaming rely on fully digital services to assess the customer journey. The customer journey for our lending services is completely done online, and we iterate by making the application process as accessible as possible. In the same way, (video game publisher) Paradox is a completely digital company, where the physical box is long gone, and they follow the user experience digitally to determine what content people are actually playing.
What’s your favorite game right now?
I’ve been a big fan of StarCraft II for a long time, and that’s my go-to at the moment. It’s also one of the biggest esports titles that have been active long before professional tournaments became mainstream, and it’s really enjoyable to watch.
Lastly, what are your thoughts on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin?
I think it’s fascinating to look at this type of phenomenon historically because buying something based on its future potential value is definitely not something new; it goes back to the “Tulip Mania” in the Netherlands during the 15th century. At that point, people could buy tulips that weren’t even grown yet. These tulips ended up with a crazy valuation that allowed people to buy multiple farms for a single tulip that did not even exist. Like now, some people got rich and some ended up with nothing. While I can’t predict where these cryptocurrencies will go, it’s interesting to see if history repeats itself.