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The Norwegian miracle: From crisis to cash in three weeks
The strict and immediate lockdown of many businesses and the Norwegian society at large in March 2019 caused immediate apprehension of a cascade of liquidity problems and, worse, an ensuing cascade of solvency problems. In short, tens of thousands of businesses might go bankrupt unless they received cash support. The government decided to contribute with cash support but had no means of distributing the funds. While similar existing solutions could not be adopted, or at least not fast enough, there was a proposal to build a special purpose solution from scratch, focusing on effectiveness and efficiency, rather than laser-like precision. This paper tells the story from members of the core team, comprising a handful of people, who built the solution that changed the status in many companies from crisis to cash in just three weeks. Highly autonomous and accountable engineering teams with vast experience in iterating superfast and used to building solutions that did not exist before for problems one did not know one had was one of the many factors that made for success. Other factors included a high degree of trust between government, public administration and private companies, as well as highly trustworthy digital public registries and a society-wide public authentication mechanism.
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Yngvar Ugland is Norway’s first consumer technologist and the head of DNB NewTechLab, which has locations in Oslo, San Francisco and Palo Alto, California. He is a lecturer at NHH — Norwegian School of Economics and Singularity University Nordic. He appears regularly on TV, in podcasts, newspapers, op-eds, debates and on the big stage. He holds a Master of Science degree in Mathematics from NTNU and has been building product, teams, technologies and companies for decades.
Geir V. Berglind is Chief Innovation Architect at DNB NewTechLab. He has more than 30 years of experience in IT and digitalisation in banking and finance, with a professional background in, among other things, ship financing and unsecured credits. Previously, he worked as CIO at Norsk Skibs Hypothekbank and as Nordic CTO at Santander Consumer Bank.