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Technology: Traditional banking is Finn-ished

A cooperative bank in one of the EU’s smallest countries seems an unlikely place to find someone who wants to ‘blow up’ traditional banking. But OP’s Tom Dahlström is on the side of the disrupters.


“If people start to associate all types of daily transactions with Google, Apple or Alibaba or Alipay or whatever instead of banks, you run the risk of becoming a background player”
- Tom Dahlström, OP Group

A conversation with Dr Tom Dahlström of Finland’s OP Group, the ubiquitous financial services firm, is like having one’s own TED talk about banking.

Firstly there’s his ‘doctor’ thing. Not many banking executives can claim to be one – Dahlström’s doctorate is for economics, which he got in Helsinki after post-graduate studies at London’s LSE.

Then there’s his title: chief strategy officer. Such deal-spotting jobs are increasingly commonplace at banks but, after 15 years at the decidedly Nordic OP Group, Dahlström functions more as an in-house boffin, with a mandate to research, think and divine trends as to where and how OP can extend its reach.

Then, his reading list. Notably: ‘The art of cryptocurrency – How Bitcoin and digital money are challenging the global economic order,’ which he describes as “an inspirational account of an emerging technology that has the potential to fundamentally alter the very foundations of the global financial system.

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