Welcome to “Fintech tides,” a pioneering podcast dedicated to exploring the dynamic world of financial technology. In our premier episode, we are honoured to host Kristian Sternros, the COO and co-founder of Finshark, a trailblazer in the fintech arena. With his extensive experience in business development and a fervent zeal for revolutionizing the fintech landscape, Kristian has played a pivotal role in guiding Finshark’s innovative approach to open banking. Today, he shares his insights on redefining financial processes, making them more efficient and user-centric.

One of the founders of Finshark

Kristian Sternros stands as a paragon in the fintech world, driven by an unwavering ambition to transform the realm of financial services. His journey is characterized by a deep-rooted commitment to enhancing the efficiency and user-friendliness of financial systems. Under his adept leadership, Finshark has emerged not merely as a participant but as a leader in the revolution of open banking, challenging and reshaping the traditional financial paradigms.

Before co-founding Finshark, Kristian amassed a wealth of experience in business development. His journey is not just a story of professional progression but a testament to his passion for fintech innovation. With Finshark, he has focused on harnessing the potential of open banking to streamline and enrich financial processes, making them more accessible and intuitive for users.

The odyssey for a financial license

The path to obtaining a financial license for Finshark was an odyssey marked by challenges and invaluable lessons. Kristian recounts the journey with candor, shedding light on the complexities of regulatory compliance and the resilience required to navigate this terrain.

The quest began in 2019, shortly after Finshark’s inception. Recognizing that a license was crucial for operational freedom and credibility, the team embarked on what would become a rigorous and enlightening process. They enlisted the expertise of a top law firm in Sweden and submitted their first application with a sense of optimism.

However, the world of financial regulation is often a labyrinthine one, with its lack of feedback and strict communication protocols. Kristian recalls the initial setback when, just before midsummer, they received news of their application’s impending rejection. This moment was not just a logistical hurdle; it was a test of their resolve and vision.

Undeterred, the team at Finshark rallied. They forwent vacations, dedicating their summer to revising the application. The second submission, filed in September, was met with another jolt – a rejection mere days before the deadline. This second blow brought not only frustration but confusion, particularly over the definition of their customer base.

Yet, it was this challenge that crystallized the essence of Finshark’s journey – an unyielding determination to succeed against the odds. With renewed vigor and insights from additional legal consultations, Finshark found a way to appeal, refining their application with targeted adjustments.

Open banking: A revolution in fintech

The concept of open banking stands at the core of Finshark’s innovative approach. Kristian delves into how open banking is not just a technological advancement, but a paradigm shift in the financial industry. At its heart, open banking dismantles traditional barriers, allowing licensed entities like Finshark to perform operations previously exclusive to banks.

Open banking’s advent, heralded by the European Union’s regulations in 2015, paved the way for a more inclusive financial ecosystem. Kristian emphasizes how this regulatory shift has created a plethora of opportunities, enabling Finshark to offer more than just transactional services, but also data-rich, customer-centric solutions.

Redefining financial processes: Finshark’s approach

At Finshark, the mission extends beyond merely utilizing open banking; it’s about redefining how financial processes are experienced by users. Kristian articulates this through two key innovations: embedded finance and API-based solutions.

Embedded finance, as Kristian explains, involves integrating financial services into non-financial environments. This approach makes financial operations more accessible, allowing users to manage finances in familiar settings, like online retail platforms or personal budgeting apps.

The second pillar of Finshark’s approach is their commitment to API-based technology. From the outset, Kristian and his team made a strategic choice to avoid shortcuts like screen scraping. Their API-first strategy has not only ensured compliance and security but has also provided a robust foundation for scalable and flexible fintech solutions.

Success stories from Finshark’s portfolio bring this innovative approach to life. From enabling seamless transactions in e-commerce to facilitating efficient financial management for sports clubs, Finshark’s solutions demonstrate the tangible benefits of their open banking-based strategies.

The future of fintech according to Finshark

Looking ahead, Kristian shares his vision for the future of fintech, particularly in the realms of payments and customer experience. He predicts significant advancements in the payout sector, an area ripe for innovation. His forecast suggests a shift towards more efficient, customer-focused payout mechanisms, an evolution from the traditional focus on payment collection.

Finshark’s roadmap is aligned with these predictions. Kristian hints at upcoming projects that will further exploit the capabilities of open banking, offering more integrated and user-centric financial solutions. This forward-thinking approach underscores Finshark’s role not just as a participant in the fintech space but as a forerunner shaping its future.


Our conversation with Kristian Sternros offers a deep dive into the world of fintech innovation. His journey with Finshark highlights the transformative power of perseverance, innovation, and strategic thinking in the face of regulatory and technological challenges. As Finshark continues to break new ground, their story stands as a beacon for future fintech endeavors, promising a financial landscape that is more efficient, accessible, and aligned with the evolving needs of the digital era.