Francine Ereira is Country Head of Klarna, a Fintech founded in 2005 in Sweden, with the aim of making it easier for people to shop online. Klarna is now one of Europe’s largest banks, providing payment solutions for 85 million consumers across 205,000 merchants in 17 countries.
Klarna offers a smooth, one click purchase experience that lets consumers pay when and how they prefer. Launching in Australia in February 2020 it counts Commonwealth Bank, Sequoia Capital, Visa and even Snoop Dogg as investors.
Can you tell us a little bit more about Klarna?
Klarna established in Stockholm 15 years ago by three young Swedish gentlemen, with a simple vision to make online payments easier for consumers and retailers. We completed our first transaction back in April 2005 in partnership with a Swedish bookshop. Since then, we’ve expanded into 19 markets, serve over 85 million consumers and work with in excess of 205,000 retailers across the globe.
Klarna recently decided to launch in Australia. Why did they choose Australia?
Australia is a relatively mature market. It’s sophisticated with an engaged consumer base who are willing to try new payment products. Based on our adoption of Klarna, Australia as a country is always looking for something bigger, better and bolder, especially in the millennial market.
What Australia brings for Klarna is the ability for us to position ourselves as a responsible lender. We are helping consumers to budget and we are partnering with retailers to help them grow their businesses. The reason Klarna came to Australia is our competitors in this market have a very transactional relationship. What Klarna does well globally is develop relationships by engaging customers through curated personal content, rather than just a transaction.
What was it about Klarna other than the product that attracted you to the business?
During my first week at Zip Co I was present at a partnership meeting with Klarna. What I remember about that meeting was the level of professionalism and the pace at which Klarna worked. They had dedication to working towards a great opportunity. Whilst the opportunity to partner with Klarna didn’t work out with Zip, it stayed in my mind the ease of which they wanted to partner and how they went about doing that. I witnessed first hand their passion and devotion to solving problem spaces. When Klarna announced their partnership with CBA in Australia, I knew this was my chance to be part of it.
How has the relationship with CBA been working so far? Is it a hands on relationship or are they very hands off?
We’ve got a really close working relationship. There is a strong alignment between Klarna and CBA. We both have a commitment towards customer obsession and protecting consumers, for example our drive towards responsible lending.
We have regular meetings to discuss growth and what we both want to achieve in this market. It’s not like it’s big brother watching over us. It truly is a partnership, exploring a range of opportunities to grow together, including co-marketing opportunities and developing opportunities as we go.
How would you describe the culture of the business having been in the seat for a few months now?
The culture is honestly something that I’ve not experienced before. I’ve worked with very large global corporations and some great startups. Klarna’s cultural perspective encourages people to speak up and take accountability. Empowerment is something in our organisation I find incredible. We empower everyone to deliver in a fast paced environment.
To provide some insight of how empowering it is I’ll share a conversation Sebastian and I had. He told me “Fran, Australia is yours to make successful” and I said “What does successful look like?” He said “No, you tell me what successful looks like to you and then go and deliver on it, because I know that’s what you’re capable of doing”.
“That’s the essence of the culture, it is truly incredible“FRANCINE EREIRA
If I can paint more literal picture, we work in small teams of eight people. Each team focuses on an individual problem space, looking to foster a startup mentality. If you think about our product space, we are quickly able to iterate and enhance our products based on customer feedback.
That’s something that you don’t see a lot of in big tech teams that have longer roadmaps, you can’t have that agility, which is the complete opposite of our small teams.
Klarna still identifies people by core competencies, data and analytics, finance, marketing, tech product, etc. But every team, irrespective of competence is only eight people. And some of those teams will be cross functional. Our product team, for example, has lawyers, analysts and developers.
Basically a group of people who can run a small business sufficiently on their own within the organisation. It’s a really clever concept because it means that you’re able to self service, right? You’re not relying on all these other pieces, you’re actually self sufficient to run and that means you can run faster, quicker and achieve desired outcomes.
What are the plans for the business here in Aus?
We’ve got some very big plans for Aus. Today we are 27 people and we’re growing quickly in the market, which is really exciting. We’ve had a very warm reception and that’s mainly because consumers are truly at the heart of everything we do.
I could have utilised support and services from our central services team in Sweden. The reality of the time differences between us brought about a realisation that this didn’t quite work, we really needed to create those roles within Australia. The team is a lot bigger than initially forecasted year one because we don’t want to compromise on the level of service and delivery to our customers.
The reality is that Australia is a competitive landscape. Only 10% of Australians have actually conducted a buy now pay later transaction. We’re seeing numbers grow on a daily basis with new audiences, particularly with the pandemic. There’s a whole new audience now shopping online that haven’t before.
What we want to do is disrupt and show consumers what an amazing shopping experience looks like and to show Australians that we can deliver what they want. We do listen and put customers at the centre of everything that we’re doing. Our ambitions are very bold, and I’m very confident that we can deliver on them. I can’t wait to show the results of that in a couple of years time.
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I’d like to go back a little bit further in your career to really understand how you got started in FinTech?
My foray into FinTech was quite an interesting one. I was actually working at Tomando, which you may recall was an incredible fulfilment platform. During my time at Zip I had established really strong relationships within the payment ecosystem including platform providers, solution providers and retail. It was at a time when Larry was in the early stages at Zip Co, I think three years in at that stage, and looking at how to partner and breakthrough. We started talking and did a dance around for quite a number of months until I was I love the sound of this. This is really exciting, I think I need to get on board. Which was how I got into the FinTech space.
Fran, you are one of a group of highly talented female leaders in Fintech. What is your advice to others wanting to follow in your shoes?
The reality is all jobs out there are there for the taking by anybody, irrespective of race or gender. It think it boils down to females being less likely to consider ourselves worthy of running the race. If we only tick 9 of the 10 boxes then we wont apply. The mindset of guys is different. They think I’ve got three of those things, let’s have a go.
It’s about helping women take those risks because they are so capable. We are so judgmental of ourselves, we really are our own worst enemies to be quite honest, to a large degree we are perfectionists, when we don’t tick all the boxes, so we just don’t go for it.
Personally, I think that’s a big contributing factor. Which is a shame because what you need around any boardroom table is a really diverse bunch of people. Different people think and act in different ways, and ultimately you need that level of diversity to win and have robust challenges or conversations. And constructive conversations help you get to where you want to go.
As a leader how do you get that across to the people in your team and your network?
One of the things that Klarna are quite good at doing particularly in trying to keep diversity and balance happening is seeking out people, giving them the confidence to give it a go. What I say to my team all the time, is if you’ve got what you think it takes to get this done, look at what you’ve got, not what you don’t have, to deliver and go for it
It doesn’t matter whether there are guys or girls in my team or not at the end of the day, I want everyone to strive and push themselves further than they’ve ever pushed themselves because we all benefit collectively from that.