The more subscriptions you have, the harder it is to manage them

Don’t lose your money imperceptibly: Minna Technologies shows how much money you spend on subscriptions - OP Developer

23.8.2018

The amount of subscriptions is steadily increasing. The more subscriptions you have, the harder it is to manage them. Swedish startup Minna Technologies makes it easier.

40 million euros per year. That’s how much money Swedish startup Minna Technologies is going to save its’ users by canceling and improving subscriptions.

– The core problem is that consumers are moving from product-based purchases towards to subscription-based solutions. Today we can subscribe to groceries, cars and even diapers, on top of the “classic” subscriptions such as telecom, insurance, and utilities. The amount of subscriptions is increasing fast. Moreover, almost everyone has some bad experiences regarding cancellation, says Joakim Sjöblom, the founder, and CEO of the company.

The startup has built a subscription management platform that helps consumers monitor their subscriptions and quickly cancel the ones they don’t need. This business idea was born in 2015 when Sjöblom went shopping for groceries.

– I was a student and knew that I had about 150 euros on my account. When I got to the cashier, I was not able to pay for the groceries. When I looked the recent transactions from the last 24–48 hours I saw that I had paid six different items like the gym membership, electricity, Spotify and HBO account. I had lost my money without noticing it.

He hadn’t even realized that he had been paying for the HBO for the last six months. The final touch was understanding how hard canceling these accounts could sometimes be. Signing up is easy but canceling takes more effort: you have to call the service provider, wait in the queue and talk to a sales guy.

– It is a very uneven balance between the customer and the supplier.

A growing trend

Sjöblom realized that there is enormous potential in the fintech sector. He wasn’t the only one having problems with managing all the subscriptions. He found two other co-founders Jonas Karles and Marcus Lönnberg, and in March 2015 they took part in the Swedish version of Shark Tank called Draknästet, and the product got official.

They got good feedback, and the show kickstarted a fast growth and product development phase. In 2016 the app was ready and the startup operated by the name Mina Tjänster (Swedish for “My Subscriptions”).

The company has grown a lot and nowadays it is a team of 30 people. During the first three years, the startup has learned a lot about customer behavior. They have seen the growing trend and popularity of subscriptions. Their core is household subscriptions like telephone, gas, electricity and the internet.

– This is the big part of the monthly costs. In addition to this, there are new forms of subscriptions for things like groceries subscriptions. In many cases, it costs 70–80 euros every second week depending on the size of your household.

Instead of DVDs and CDs, we use Netflix, HBO, and Spotify. New products are coming to the markets. For example, Volvo and Lyft have launched their car subscription products. They can cost 600–1000 euros per month.

It can quickly get costly if you don’t use them. Especially content-based subscriptions are easy to forget: you subscribe for one season of Game of Thrones and keep on paying even though the season ends. Sjöblom tells that part of their service is to make data-driven recommendations by analyzing transactions and comparing them to an offer from other service providers. Switching the contract to a better one is a way to save further money.

Taking over the Nordics

The banking sector is a natural partner for Minna Technologies.

– The expectations of the customers are that the technology and features we are building should be available in banks because the consumer pays for the electricity and Spotify through the bank. That is the channel where you would like to make the changes, Sjöblom tells.

The first customer of the startup was the Swedish market leader Swedbank in 2017. Nowadays it is working with the Danish market leader Danske Bank as well. The co-operation with OP would be the final touch for the Nordics, says Sjöblom.

The reach of the startup is up to seven million customers in the Nordics: 4,3 million of them are using Swedbank and 2,5 million use Danske Bank in the Nordics.

– We treat the Nordics as one market. The consumer behavior and the average amount of subscriptions are the same. And so are the problems with managing them.

During the coming year, the startup is going to reach 300 000 cancellations and tens of thousands improved subscriptions. It means around 40 million euros saved per year.

The company has gotten requests from retail banks all around the world: for example, from Australia and Japan.

Customers want banks to offer new features

Sjöblom tells that a lot has changed in the mindset of the banking sector. When Minna Technologies reached for the banks three years ago, they were a bit suspicious and didn’t want to share their data. PSD2 has changed a lot.

– Now the walls are torn down. Banks roll out the red carpet, and they are looking for partnerships actively.

The development goes on in harmony: when one bank gets a new feature, the other banks follow.

– We are living in a modern world, and traditional competition belongs to the 90’s. If you want to bring a lot of customer value, you have to set co-operation over competition. End of story. It is the same with compliance and innovation. If you set the compliance higher than innovation you´ve got a lack.

Also, the customers have been speeding up the change. They are already used to getting personalized views for example in Facebook and Spotify. They assume that banks too are going to provide even more personalized services that are linked to their own life.

This means that it is time for banks to develop their services.

– I like to think the metaphor about “do you want to be a Ford or a Tesla?” Being a Tesla includes a higher risk, but the likelihood of having a stable position in the future is higher.