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Veronika, Pedram and Morten came up with a new banking concept

Veronika, Pedram and Morten travelled around Oslo with iPads and surveys and came up with a brilliant and innovative banking concept. That's pretty much a summary of what happened when three of our interns were given an assignment consisting of two sentences, free reigns and four months to complete the task. The long story is well worth hearing about though.

Veronika Hamarova has been an intern and worked closely with Pedram Mireftekhari and Morten Stien since early September.

"We've worked, discussed and eaten lunch together every day since September. I'm actually surprised that we haven't got fed up with each other," says Veronika, laughing. Along with Pedram and Morten, Veronika has been an intern at EVRY since early September 2018. Together they came up with four concepts for how to improve online banking, including a loyalty programme in the app.

An internship with us involves working on a long-term project as part of a team. The projects originate in dialogue with our customers and are based on real-life problems. They run over a four-month period, during which the interns are paid. Their assignments range from developing apps or researching a new concept to finding out how new technology can be applied to solve a problem.

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A closely-knit team: Pedram, Morten and Angelika.

A bank-challenge and a half.
For four months, Pedram, Morten and Veronika worked intensively for Sparebank 1 Østlandet. It started with the bank assigning the team the following challenge formulated in two sentences:

"How can we enhance customer loyalty to our bank, particularly among our young customers? We want you to challenge us on everything!"

The whole autumn was spent on developing a concept. The trio spent a lot of time collecting data so that they could gain a better understanding of the user group. One of the methods they used was to trawl downtown Oslo armed with iPads and asked people in the street to answer surveys.

"We went everywhere: to BI Norwegian Business School, the University of Oslo, libraries, hairdressers – even opticians. It was important for us to get a broad sample of answers on what people wanted from their mobile bank app. Distributing the survey online would not have been much use; we had to get out of the office and actually talk to people," Pedram explains.

After four hectic months the trio presented a brand new banking concept – and were offered permanent positions in EVRY. Along with in-depth interviews, the 200 or so responses resulted in four different concepts for mobile banking, such as a separate loyalty programme for bank customers, and ideas for new saving functions. Once this was done, they went back on the streets to test prototypes for their concepts.

"Pedram actually became very good at using the Marvelapp programme, which can be used to create prototypes of apps. We received better answers from bank users in the second round because we had something tangible to show them. But we would not have arrived at the concept unless we had taken the time to collect input early on," says Veronika.

Christian Fjestad, Head of Innovation SpareBank1 Østlandet:

Our experience of last autumn's EVRY Innovation Hub project is very positive. The interns showed a keen interest in our creative challenge, and their presentation held a high standard. The project provided our bank with valuable insight, and we will be addressing several of the elements they presented to us.

Offered permanent jobs
Pedram, Morten and Veronika all studied economics. Morten is currently writing this master's thesis, while the other two have accepted permanent positions with us.

"What attracted me to apply for an internship in EVRY is what the advertisement said about innovation," says Morten.

"And research," adds Veronika.
What gave them most satisfaction was that fact that they could work on innovation and concept development without having to know how to code.

"I think a lot of people out there want to work on technology and on what an change society, but maybe feel they lack the tech background. As it turned out, being tech-literate was enough," says Pedram.

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Collaboration – and sometimes post-its – made the magic happen.

We like to set up teams comprised of people with different backgrounds, and that goes for our interns, too. Pedram comes from Iran, Veronika from Slovakia and Morten was born and raised in Bergen. Having such diverse backgrounds has proved valuable when they had to find out how the mobile bank could be innovated.

"We come from different countries and use different banks. Those factors have enriched our discussions because our mobile banks have different features which we can compare," says Veronika.

The tolerance level in the team was high. They had many discussions which they say drove them forward in the conceptual process, and they decided early on that everyone could agree to disagree. They also went through what Morten describes as an extremely long brainstorming process.

"Believe it or not, many of my best ideas came to me in the shower. Your thoughts tend to wander while you stand there, and suddenly you get a smart idea. Then it's a matter of jumping out of the shower, grabbing your mobile phone and sharing the idea with the others on Slack," he says.

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