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‘Making the browser and a superior wallet work better, together’: Opera’s Krystian Kolondra

  • The browser Opera has 380 million users globally and 50 million in Europe.
  • The firm is integrating payments and cashback into the browser and has broad fintech ambitions.
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‘Making the browser and a superior wallet work better, together’: Opera’s Krystian Kolondra

A few years back, there was a race to embed payments into the browser. It makes sense, too. Most people who access the web through their computers use a browser to shop and bank. While the noise has died down, the Opera browser has continued to work on integrating financial services. Opera has 380 million users globally with 50 million active European users.

The firm is launching an app that gives its users cashback on purchases made through partner websites via the Opera browser. Users can also use the new app to open a current account and get a virtual debit card to shop online and off. The firm plans to offer savings, credit and investment opportunities in the future.

Joining us on the podcast today is Krystian Kolondra, EVP Browsers & EEA Fintech at Opera.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Opera's footprint

Opera started as a browser company. And we have more than 380 million users currently, out of which 75 million were added in the last three years. We're a growing company -- with $170 million annual revenue and profitable. And we are using the browser as a platform to kickstart new initiatives and new businesses.

One of these businesses is Opera News that already has more than 200 million users as part of the application. And we have also launched several ecommerce or fintech related initiatives in emerging markets.

Fintech in the browser

If you think about browsers, people use the browser to fix their online errands. They use it for reading news, banking, connecting with others, but most importantly, for shopping. So that ecommerce is our focus and integrated ecommerce, especially, taking into account privacy, is something that actually aligns really well with some of Opera's values and its vision.

The browser is exactly the right place. I could imagine, in the near future, browsers going into the financial space and also some financial institutions trying to go into -- not necessarily full browsers -- but offering ecommerce directly in their applications. I see that already happening. The browser is better positioned for this because people already shop in the browser, people are already there. It is much easier than to take an application and then ask people to change their habits and start shopping in the application.

We're quite happy because this news is about the new brand, Dify, that includes the ecommerce and payment activities that we want to build around the browser, but also around the digital financial application, the wallet app. We're launching the product that will support ecommerce in the browser, and offer cashback, giving users the possibility to get this cash back into their digital wallet, and then use this with the card for further payments online and offline -- for instance, with Google Pay functionality.

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New functionality

This is, first of all, about convenience, and how simple it is and how secure and privacy oriented that is. Our browser will come with something we call shopping mode, which means that while you shop, we limit access of extensions in a browser. Many people are not aware that lots of extensions scan or gather data from what we're doing online. They can learn a lot about us. We will give the choice to the user in a shopping mode to limit these extensions -- almost like a VPN for regular connectivity, right? You're in the shopping mode, it's yours. So that's the first thing.

Second thing is that we're making it easy and convenient for you to get cashback or learn about new promotions. Who would not like to get a huge discount on a purchase that you're making, right? We do this automatically. So when you shop, you will see quickly on a particular shop whether you can get an offer or a discount. And then you just do the things you've been doing before. But once your cashback is approved, you will get it directly to your Dify wallet, where you will be able to use it the way you want.

Building rewards

We are building our rewards program with partners -- we're working either through partners or through affiliate networks, like similar programs that are on the market. We plan to build the most extensive catalog of global cashback and offers, as we move forward into the future.

Financial services

We've always been focused on innovation, ease of use. And that has been a theme for our browser development for years. Many of the things that you see in the browsers today actually were invented by Opera. We want to take this attitude and envision it to the financial world, which means that we're not just launching cash back in the browser as a first step, but we're connecting directly with the digital wallet.

And that follows some of the acquisitions that we did last year when we acquired Fjord Bank and Pocosys. They both have licenses, allowing them to operate in Europe. So we start with the EU, the European Economic Area. It's a huge market, by the way. If you think about ecommerce, it's more than a $700 billion market, expected to grow double digits in 2021. So it's the right place to start. And we have more than 50 million users in Europe.

We'll be offering this digital wallet application with a current account with a MasterCard debit card, and people can use this card for online purchases or with Google Pay for offline purchases. They can also do transfers and in the future, we will be launching more functionality, like consumer finance, management, savings, credit, and investment opportunities. We also aim to have instant cashback, which is one of the hardest types of cashback services today. Normally, you have to wait for a very long time to get your reward -- we want to offer it much, much faster than anyone else.

Expansion of financial services

We will start in Europe, and we will be enabling this functionality country by country. Our ambitions are definitely global. So this brand is supposed to be a global fintech brand. We will be going about this in two tracks that make sense together. One is to offer more and better -- like comfort and ease of use for users using their financial applications. That could be investments, savings, and other things.

And at the same time, we will make it easier for them to shop online, to keep track of their purchases, and basically get the best offers on the market with cashback.

One thing worth noting is that we're trying to be at the forefront of what people are doing on the browser side. And already, a few years ago, we launched a cryptocurrency wallet into our browsers. I think we're really well prepared to bring new functionality to our users.

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