Insights for emerging leaders in the digital payments era: lessons from Black Door Technology

Wednesday 28 February 2024 08:45 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

Aleksandra Kjemhus, Co-Founder & CEO at Black Door Technology AS, reveals what an AI Strategy Mindset implies, besides technology.

What is Black Door Technology AS for those who do not know it yet?

Our company was founded with a vision to guide businesses through the challenges and opportunities presented by the rapid pace of technological development. We focus on the implications of emerging technologies, and how they will drive transformation across various industries. Our mission is to assist companies in crafting their future strategies and innovation pathways, ensuring they are well-prepared to navigate strategically through change. We are committed to shaping how the decisions we make today influence the direction of tomorrow's innovation. Read more about BDT here:


What is the impact of AI on the regtech industry, and how do you present/teach its implications to leaders in this sector?

AI's impact on the regtech industry revolves around its capabilities in searching, structuring, generating, and reasoning with information. This technological revolution is set to fundamentally change how we interact with machines, affecting ultimately all products and processes. For the regtech sector, characterised by strong legal guardrails and strict compliance while processing complex data-intensive operations, AI presents profound opportunities and challenges. Leaders must consider customer expectations, the AI-enablement of their services, security implications, and how AI-mediated human-machine interfaces will transform their operations. Addressing these changes requires strategic planning around competencies, governance, organisational and product roadmaps. We want to highlight these opportunities and encourage leaders to engage in meaningful discussions about leveraging AI for future success.


What are the three main qualities of a leader active in the digital payments space (e.g., leader of a successful fintech/regtech)?

  1. Empathy: Empathy goes beyond mere understanding; it's about truly experiencing the customer's and employee's journey from their perspective. For customers, this means identifying pain points in the transaction process, security concerns, or usability issues and addressing them to enhance satisfaction and trust. Internally, empathy manifests in creating a workplace that values open communication, recognises achievements, and supports personal and professional development. A leader's empathy ensures that employees feel valued and motivated, which in turn fosters a culture of loyalty and innovation.

  2. Curiosity: This means staying ahead of emerging trends in financial technology, regulatory changes, and shifts in customer expectations. Curiosity drives leaders to explore new technologies such as blockchain, AI, and biometrics, considering how these could revolutionise payment processes, enhance security, or improve customer experience. It also involves a willingness to challenge one's own assumptions and adapt strategies in response to new information or market shifts.

  3. Challenging the status quo: Adopting the role of a challenger is crucial for leaders in the digital payments industry. This involves questioning and rethinking established norms and processes to discover more efficient, secure, and user-friendly payment solutions. Being a challenger means not settling for ‘how things have always been done’ but instead seeking out opportunities to disrupt and improve. This could involve implementing cutting-edge technology, redefining customer service standards, or pioneering new business models that challenge traditional banking and payment systems. A challenger mindset encourages innovation, drives competitive advantage, and leads to the development of groundbreaking solutions that redefine the market.


What are the top three mistakes leaders make, and what lessons can we learn from them?

1. Short-term thinking:

Leaders often focus excessively on short-term goals and financial targets, leading to a reactive rather than strategic approach. This short-sightedness can at best result in missing out on opportunities and worst case lead to an extinction event (e.g. Blockbuster, Kodak).

2. Communication:

A lack of clear, consistent communication about the company's direction, vision, and goals can lead to confusion and demotivation among employees. Without understanding the larger purpose of their work, employees may struggle to find meaning and remain engaged.

3. Homogeneous thinking:

Making decisions in isolation or within homogeneous groups can lead to a narrow perspective, overlooking the diverse needs and viewpoints of the broader financial market and workforce. This can result in decisions that don't fully address customer needs or harness the full potential of the organisation's capabilities.


To summarise, the overarching lesson for leaders is recognising the value of strategic foresight, clear and inclusive communication, and diversity in perspectives. By prioritising long-term goals alongside immediate ones, leaders can create sustainable strategies that anticipate future trends. Clear, consistent communication that connects individual efforts to the company's broader vision motivates and aligns the organisation. Lastly, incorporating a variety of viewpoints in decision-making processes not only avoids narrow-mindedness but also fosters creativity, which research suggests leads to better decisions and outcomes.


If you could change one thing in the world, making a meaningful impact, what would that be?

Increase diversity in decision-making processes across all levels of society, from global policies and organisational strategies to company operations. Our current decision-making often relies on a narrow set of perspectives, overlooking the rich tapestry of human experience and wisdom that exists worldwide. By bringing more diverse voices into these processes, we ensure a wider range of issues are considered, and solutions that are more inclusive and effective.


As a speaker at the 17th NextGen Payments & RegTech Forum, could you provide a brief overview of the topics you will be addressing? 

I will be addressing the topic of AI Strategy Mindset. As we are standing in the forefront of the largest technological advancement in our history, how should we approach the topic? The opportunity space around AI is massive, and the decisions we make today will impact our future. Do we want to leave the outcome to coincidences or think strategically and long-term about its impact?


About Aleksandra Kjemhus

Aleksandra Kjemhus co-founded Black Door Technology AS in 2020, where she specialises in advising leaders in AI strategy and business innovation. With over a decade of experience in digital transformation and innovation, Aleksandra excels in guiding leadership through complex strategical challenges. Her background includes significant roles in Financial Services, driving digital strategy and innovation in the largest bank in the Nordics, in healthcare, leading the development of AI-integrated dental services, and advising tech start-ups on everything from governance, strategy to product development.

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Keywords: artificial intelligence, regtech, fraud prevention, payments
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: World
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