3 things Nordic companies should consider for international expansion


Lasse Järvinen, co-founder of online loyalty program Bonusway, shares learnings about international expansion

“With Wise, we can launch a new market 4 months faster,” says Lasse Järvinen, Co-Founder of Bonusway.

Bonusway is a Finnish startup that’s creating new shopping experiences by combining shopping inspiration with rewards. It now has 4.2 million members, and over 7,000 merchants, and has partnered with companies like Booking.com, Asos and eBay.

Co-Founder Lasse Järvinen has taken the company from Finland to 16 other countries. He shared 3 things other Nordic companies should consider if they, too, decide to expand abroad.

1. Don’t let local bank accounts stop you from expanding

Bonusway was founded in 2011, and have used Wise as an alternative to traditional bank accounts from the start.

“When we started expanding abroad, we were quite surprised how long it would take to open up an account”, Lasse says. “Thankfully, with Wise we don’t have to open up local bank accounts.”

Not having to deal with local banks has meant that Bonusway can launch in new markets 3-4 times faster. “We wanted to build a international company, and Wise is a crucial part of our globalisation stack,” Lasse says.

2. Hire natives – market knowledge is invaluable

Lasse says it’s important to hire people that are familiar with the market you’re looking to enter. Not only could this help build a product that works globally from the start, but it also helps you relate to partners that work across markets.

“We also quickly saw how much value there was in having local experts,” Lasse says. “Our country managers bring learnings from each market back to the team, and we can roll out the best ideas across all markets.”

3. Use tools and resources that work globally

Bonusway has partners and uses solutions that are made to work in multiple markets. Communication tools like Slack, infrastructure providers like AWS, and money transfer services like Wise really help speed things up. Bonusway uses Wise to pay out cash rewards to their users.

“Wise is probably the most customer-facing part of our globalisation stack,” Lasse says.

He goes on, “For a company like ours, the payment experience is an important part of our value proposition, so having a reliable payments provider is key. They give us both the reliability and the currencies we need to expand rapidly to new markets.”

How Wise is “paying” the way for Bonusway

Today, Bonusway is active in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkey, Poland, Czech, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan Russia, but Lasse isn’t planning to slow down.

“We’ve always preferred to just launch up the service in a new market and see what happens,” Lasse says. “Thanks to Wise, we can rapidly learn about new markets, including how to pay cashbacks locally, without having to wait to open up local bank accounts.”

For platforms built for international growth like Bonusway, Lasse promotes the “launch and learn” approach. He doesn’t think spending money on expensive market research is always worth it.

Learn more about Bonusway.

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