Bank Norwegian is taking a page out of the strategy of its founder, discount airline Norwegian Air, as it expands across Scandinavia to take on the establishment.
Bank Norwegian says it will offer a variety of basic banking services in Denmark and Finland to online banking customers after its 2013 move into Sweden helped boost profits. Norwegian Air continues to hold a 20 percent stake in the Baerum, Norway-based lender since its creation in 2007.
Bank customers are skipping trips to branches and instead borrowing and saving via online services. That’s lowering entry barriers to the industry for non-financial companies. Norwegian Air has gained a reputation for challenging the normal way airlines do business, pushing into low-cost long-haul flying, leasing jets and pursuing banking operations, which trade off of the strength of its brand.
Bank Norwegian’s customer base grew by more than 9 percent, quarter on quarter, to 564,100 at the end of September, according to third-quarter results. Profits jumped 36 percent on strong lending growth even as the finance industry faced negative rates in Sweden and Denmark.
The lender now has a market value of 8.7 billion kroner ($1 billion), almost approaching the 11.1 billion-krone capitalization of the airline.
The bank plans to expand first by offering Danish and Finnish consumers loans and deposit accounts, as well as a credit and reward card tied to Norwegian Air. The expansion will be profitable after two years, it predicts. The bank has a leverage ratio of 9.3 percent, giving it “ample capital for growth,” according to its third-quarter presentation.