Banking Ikea Style Puts Billionaire’s Model to Test

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July 25, 2014 by Bill Johnson


Ikea billionaire Ingvar Kamprad made his fortune helping the world stay frugal with cheap home furnishings. The same model is now being peddled at his bank, where customers get rewards for resisting luxury.

Ikano Bank is trying to lure savers by offering a 100,000 krona ($14,625) prize in the form of deposits to the winner of a computer game that punishes players who waste money on pricey goods. In “Flappy Saver,” a knock-off of the popular mobile game Flappy Bird, the player best able to navigate hurdles such as jewelery stores and shoe shops wins the highest score by protecting savings stored in a flying piggy bank.

Ikano’s savings campaign comes as competition for household deposits is intensifying amid stricter stable funding rules for banks. Closely held Ikano is taking on competitors by offering higher deposit rates. That was underscored this month after the central bank lowered its main rate by half a percentage point to 0.25 percent, putting pressure on deposit rates at Nordea Bank AB (NDA) and Sweden’s three other big lenders.

“We want to get new customers to discover Ikano and do something for small savers, in whom most major banks aren’t that interested,” Emma Roslund Johansson, a sales manager at Ikano’s Swedish operations, said in a telephone interview.

Testing Zero

Ikano’s rates range from 0.70 percent on regular savings accounts to 2.65 percent on fixed deposits. It’s not alone in taking on Sweden’s biggest banks. Nordnet AB, which offers online banking services, offers 0.55 percent, while the banking arm of supermarket chain Ica Gruppen AB (ICA) offers 0.75 percent. State-owned lender SBAB has a 1.40 percent rate on its savings account.

“The major banks’ low deposit rates make an increasing number choose savings accounts outside the four big banks,” Tor Borg, chief economist at SBAB, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The closer to zero the major banks’ interest rates go, the clearer the difference, and probably also the tendency among households to move.”

Nordea, the Nordic region’s largest bank, and Swedbank AB (SWEDA), Sweden’s biggest mortgage lender, lowered the rates they pay on some savings accounts to zero after the Riksbank’s rate cut. SEB AB cut the rate on its general savings account by 10 basis points to 0.20 percent and Svenska Handelsbanken AB (SHBA) reduced rates on a number of its accounts.

Read more: Banking Ikea Style Puts Billionaire’s Model to Test

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