SEB combines personal and business finance to launch Unquo
SEBx, the innovation arm of major Swedish bank SEB, has offered a first look at Unquo, a hybrid personal and business charge card.
Currently in beta, SEBx’s first product is targeting freelancers and soloentrepreneurs who want one place to manage both their private and corporate finances.
With it yet to go live in Sweden, the bank has connected with more than 1,000 freelancers via a LinkedIn group offering support during the COVID-19 crisis.
How the app works
The app can capture receipts, automate bookkeeping and expense management reports, and calculate VAT.
But it also acts as a card and an app for personal expenses. Users can switch between modes, and use just one card.
When they sort through purchases, users can swipe left or right to move expenses into personal or business sections. The same can be done when uploading receipts.
Each month, users will receive a report of their sorted purchases with VAT automatically calculated.
SEBx hasn’t outlined a launch date for the new card.
Paying down the card
Whilst it isn’t a credit card, SEBx’s head Christoffer Malmer tells FinTech Futures it acts like a “charge card.”
Users don’t get credit on the card from day one, but Malmer says the value proposition isn’t built round the credit in the first place.
“The idea isn’t to build a revolving credit system,” he says. “The credit just means users can start using the card immediately.” So no top-ups or transfers are required.
At the end of each month, users can pay down their invoices for corporate and personal purchases.
Evolution of Unquo
The new venture, spearheaded by Malmer, marks SEBx’s first commercial product roll out since its creation in 2018.
Rather than a separate challenger bank entity, Unquo is the creation of a tech stack which SEB Group plans to repurpose for different digital products.
“We can challenge ourselves,” says Malmer. “What we’re doing is combining our incumbent strengths; licences, access to capital, strong balance sheets, with our new technology aspirations.”
The team behind Unquo consists of around 50 designers, programmers, developers and strategists based in Stockholm.
It started tests on Unquo after about a year of development. Now, the bank wants to extend its beta user base, and see if the tech stack it’s built can truly scale. Because Unquo was built from the start to travel borders.
Monetisation of SEBx
Instead of becoming another testing lab, Malmer wants to turn in-house fintech SEBx into another of the bank’s revenue streams.
The idea is to use the experience of SEB Group to add on credit-based products, savings offering and pension plans – all based on the Unquo self-employed customer segment.
“Being a bank, we already have a full-service offering, so we can pick and choose these tools from SEB Group – there’s a lot of revenue opportunity in adding more products over time,” says Malmer.
With a modular tech stack, SEBx will provide the bank with a digital onboarding flow it can reuse for other products like Unquo.
“But also, we can let the SEBx platform be the backend for fintechs,” adds Malmer. “We can we build something together, or give them access to our APIs.”
In that way, SEBx is designed to work like a Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) offering. With SEB Group its first client, the venture is open to establishing a host of third-party partnerships with fintechs.
“That’s the vision, to build new products for the bank and third-parties,” says Malmer, who reveals that SEBx has already been approached by a number of fintechs looking to plug into its APIs.
He adds SEBx also wants to focus on exploring new technologies alongside the wider bank.