Web browser Opera to buy digital challenger Fjord Bank
Opera, a freeware web browser founded in Norway, intends to buy Lithuania-based fintech start-up Fjord Bank.
The digital challenger was founded in 2017 by Norwegian and Swedish investors Svein Øvrebø, Joakim Mandorsson and Stig Myrseth.
The deal, agreed in May, saw Opera acquire a 9.9% interest in Fjord Bank via a share subscription on 3 July 2020. The acquisition of the remaining 90.1% of Fjord Bank is pending regulatory approval.
The web browser has promised a series of “disruptive services” focused around consumers’ personal finances if regulators approve the acquisition.
In December 2019, the digital challenger landed a specialised bank licence from the European Central Bank (ECB).
Under Opera’s ownership, Fjord Bank will go ahead with the launch of its first deposit and loan service in Lithuania sometime this summer.
Opera’s early moves in cryptocurrency
The web browser claims to have more than 50 million monthly active users in Europe.
In 2018, Opera released a built-in cryptocurrency wallet to its browser. Users can also shop with, send and receive cryptocurrency via the wallet.
The wallet can also integrate with Ethereum Web3 API. This integration provides access to a host of decentralised web apps on Ethereum’s network.
In March 2020, Opera updated its Android browser so users can access unofficial .crypto domains, primarily to exchange cryptocurrency.
The update was significant for Opera in the wider context of search engine competition. This is because .crypto does not exist in the global domain name system, and is not recognised by DNS overseer ICANN.
First fintech acquisition
In January 2020, Opera acquired PocoSys, an Estonia-based white label banking software provider.
Since this first acquisition, Opera has tested a new version of the Pocopay card and app. It says this new version will launch in a European market later this year.
“Looking at the fintech space in Europe, we believe it needs more and bigger challengers,” says Opera’s executive vice president, Krystian Kolondra.