Fiken using Banking API

'Aritma has a product that demonstrably works, is stable and lets you get up and running quickly.'

Challenge

Fiken was struggling to provide coverage of Norway’s extensive corporate banking market and grappling with increasing complexity around banking integrations – they needed a partner with the necessary expertise to help them. The solution: Aritma’s Banking API, which provided them with a single point of contact forevery corporate bank in the Nordic countries. 

We chatted with Fiken’s CEO Bendik Gill Bakken and in-house developer Rune Peter Bjørnstadto find out more about the issues they were facing and how Aritma was able to help. 

Fiken is an online accounting system aimed at small businesses and sole proprietorships. Today, the company also represents one of Norway’s biggest fintech successes thanks to its uncompromising focus on the user experience.

‘At Fiken, we believe that usability is absolutely essential. Any supplier who shows upwith a heavy solution won’t even make it through the door,’ says Bjørnstad.

Growing pains

Fiken has enjoyed sharp growth in recent years, and there are now more than 70,000 businesses that rely on its accounting software. But with rapid growth come growing pains. The goal had always been for the user to be able to do everything in Fiken – from billing and payroll to compiling accounts. To ensure this could be done seamlessly, Fiken had to provide banking integrations to connect the accounting system to users’ banks.

As it happens, there is a multitude of corporate banks in Norway. Building an integration for just one bank can take a long time. Over time, Fiken was onboarding new customers from up and down the length of Norway, with many relying on their local banking institutions – Fiken lacked integrations with these banks. 

Bjørnstad explains that the challenge arose from the fact that establishing this connection to new corporate banks was taking far too much time and resources in-house:

‘In the beginning, Fiken only had integrations with DNB and Sparebanken Vest, but this wasn’t able to keep up with demand. We grew a lot over a short space of time, which meant we had new clients who banked with other local banks around Norway. Dealing with these clients required a lot of us, so the prospect of even more banking integrations seemed pretty distant,’ says the developer.

Solution

One point of contact – many possibilities

Thanks to Aritma’s Banking API, Fiken only had to deal with one point of contact which inturn assumed all responsibility for the operation of the banking integrations. Overnight, they went from a handful of integrations to full access to more than 250 banks across the Nordic countries.

Founder and CEO of Fiken, Bendik Gill Bakken, believes the company has benefitted in a number of ways from its partnership with Aritma.

‘The biggest gain has been the ability to increase our focus on what we want to do and believe we’re great at. Aritma serves as a single point of contact between us and a pretty congested banking landscape that entails a level of complexity that we no longer have to deal with.’

Aritma also handles support and follow-up with the banks, allowing Fiken’s resources to befocused on other areas. Bjørnstad has also noted that this reflects back on their users.

‘Beyond the technical gain, the biggest advantage for us is that Arimta maintains open channels of communication with the banks. This means that customer issues that crop up are now resolved far more quickly than was previously the case. That’s a massive benefit for our customers.’

No detours: direct payments through the accounting system

Connecting banking to an accounting system can be advantageous – especially for businesses that process many transactions over the course of the month. Fiken uses banking integrations to retrieve data from the bank, such as account balances and details of transactions. These transactions can then be reconciled against the company’s accounts in Fiken to ensure that all the figures add up.

One opportunity afforded by banking integrations is that of pre-approved payments. Most Fiken users currently have to log in to their online banking platform in order to manually authorise their payments. Aritma’s solution enables them to make payments directly from Fiken. When users only have to deal with one system, they save a lot of time in the long run.

‘It’s been really straightforward getting started with Aritma’s solution, and I think we’re both equally pragmatic. After all, data is valuable to us, which means it’s important to have Aritma on board given their close relationship with the banks and ability to exercise influence. It’s been a real pleasure,’ says Bjørnstad.

Pay in realtime

Banking integrations have been on the market for decades, but have primarily taken the form of files passed back and forth between banks and accounting systems. When an integration is based on the exchange of files, delays can often occur – with minutes or sometimes even hours being lost. Aritma’s Banking API, however, only uses real time APIs. This ensures that payments are immediate.

Fiken isable to offer this integration to its own users, and it does not take long toconnect them to the solution:

Aritma provides comprehensive technical documentation of the entire API, which means we can set up a client with Aritma and have them up and running in almost no time at all. Everything from start to finish takes less than a day! There’s also no infrastructure that needs setting up, while it uses common and established standards for authentication, security and API establishment. It’s been a real boon for us,’ says Bjørnstad. 

The Banking API also facilitates PSD2. A PSD2 integration allows businesses to access data including balances and transactions without having to pay for corporate banking. This is a complex and nascent market in which there is a lot of activity and where Aritma can offer robust support.

‘In the long run, PSD2 is likely to replace corporate banking agreements. But as far as PSD2 goes, we’re reluctant to get in too deep as yet since the quality of thedata supplied by the banks is too poor. Nevertheless, there are quite a lot of companies that can’t afford or don’t see the need for corporate banking facilities, and as the quality of the data increases so PSD2 begins to meet the needs of many of our customers,’ says Bjørnstad.

Read more about PSD2 here.

Fit like a glove

When we finally ask the Fiken CEO to summarise the company’s partnership with Aritma, he offers two succinct thoughts:

‘Firstly, Aritma has a product that demonstrably works, is stable and lets you get up and running quickly. Secondly, we’ve come to know them as a very responsive partner in terms of our own wishes, suggestions and feedback,’ Bakken says.

Bjørnstad also mentions the importance of selecting the right partners, noting that Fiken is choosy about who they work with:

‘In short, we could feel that Aritma was a good fit for our company. They quite simply seemed like a good bunch to work with. Very rarely do we select partners on the basis of technology alone – we usually look for suppliers that we think we can collaborate well with,’ Fiken’s developer emphasises.

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