Silvija Seres: P27 running a payments platform ‘marathon’

Tech entrepreneur Silvija Seres, who joined the P27 board in February 2021, opens up about the emerging platform economy and the benefits of P27.

With a PhD in mathematics from Oxford University, an MBA from INSEAD, and years of experience in the tech industry, Silvija Seres has a front row seat from which to examine the impact of technology on society.

Thus, the decision to join the P27 board was an easy one.

“It’s one of the most interesting projects that I know of in the Nordics,” Seres says of P27.

“But I think it’s also one of the most challenging.”

Seres’s background is deep and wide. She’s held academic positions in China and Saudi Arabia, as well as in Silicon Valley where she was on the research team behind pioneering internet search engine Alta Vista.

She’s also served on countless boards over the years, including Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, telecoms firm Telenor, and Nordic bank Nordea, among others. And in 2020 she was named to a high-level advisory committee at NATO.

Seres has also been an important player in the Nordic start-up scene both as an investor and advisor, as well as an entrepreneur in her own right.

The digitalisation journey

Seres has a hard time containing her enthusiasm when speaking of the fourth industrial revolution where “data and algorithms run the world” and what it means for businesses.

“Companies that are a few steps ahead on their digitalisation journey are often impossible to catch,” she explains.

“So, there is a real sense of urgency for companies to figure out their digitalisation game.”

As Seres sees things, the dynamics of the fourth industrial revolution and the emergence of the platform economy are changing the very nature of traditional market forces.

And the fact that P27 is “smack in the middle” of the platform game made Seres jump at the chance to get involved.

“P27 is trying to establish an entire digital payments ecosystem and there are few, if any, companies in the world that have taken on something so ambitious,” she says.

Building P27 a ‘Herculean’ task

After a few months on the P27 board, Seres is even more bullish about the payments platform’s potential to be a game changer for the financial industry.

But Seres is also aware that the complexity of the “Herculean” task P27 has undertaken means much work remains to be done.

“It feels like having run a marathon, and then learning there is another marathon coming up, and you can’t stop,” she says.

While traditional card services have managed payments across borders, clearance is still managed domestically, which Seres sees as inefficient considering today’s digital infrastructure.

“Building bridges across the entire payments and clearing process can really improve the customer experience, improve transparency, and result in exceptionally valuable data,” she says.

Silvija Seres: future value is in the data

And it’s that data that Seres sees as something that could end up being P27’s most valuable potential contribution to a new digital payments and financial universe.

For example, she explains, bank customers could potentially be able to create a “digital twin” of their financial lives that might offer “predictive maintenance” to help them make better financial decisions.

“Just like Amazon leverages customer data in recommending me books, P27’s envisaged ecosystem could potentially help banks suggest different financial products and investment options based on insights from the data on the platform,” she explains.

By using P27’s capabilities, banks could potentially update their risk models to make it possible to identify at-risk customers as well as keep track of wider consumer trends in society that might impact their business.

“If you look at how people are spending their money, that could potentially give them new ways to avoid risks,” Seres explains.

“Perhaps it would be possible for banks to better predict, for example, if there is a housing bubble and when it might burst. That sort of insight could potentially provide huge value not only to banks, but to society as a whole,” she says.

NOTE: P27 is still in a preliminary stage, and the establishment of P27 is subject to regulatory approvals and requirements.