“Security is an inherent right” – Zwipe CEO on building a biometrics business

fintech innovation awards

The Fintech Innovation Awards recognise the best achievements and most innovative teams and individuals in their fields in the last 12 months. This year’s winner in the category of ‘Innovation In Payments’ is Oslo-based Zwipe, which aims to replace PIN codes, passwords and signatures using a power efficient fingerprint sensor. 

Here, Zwipe founder and CEO Kim Kristian Humborstad talks about his vision for the company, what he’s learned building the business and why startup teams need a good sense of humour.

What specific problem is Zwipe tackling? 

At Zwipe, our goal is to create solutions that are faster, easier and more secure.  Building fingerprint identification technologies that require no battery enables us to integrate greater security in everything from a bank card to a national ID.  We believe security is an inherent right, particularly the security of one’s own identity.  Our solutions never transmit the user’s biometric data; it remains solely on the product; never in a database vulnerable to a breach.

Ideas versus execution: what does it takes to makes great ideas reality at Zwipe?

We strive to have a very open culture where anyone can submit a product or solution idea.  From incorporating incentive programs to maintaining a relatively flat corporate structure, we believe the exchange of ideas, experience and know-how is key to maintaining an agile and responsive company.

What’s the most useful piece of advice for startups?

Startups can often be a chaotic place which presents both risks and rewards.  It is how you navigate that chaos that will help you steer a clear course; maintain your flexibility and learn how to mitigate the risks and amplify the rewards.

What do you wish you’d known when you first set out? 

Entrepreneurs often comprise a similar set of characteristics.  We are inherently risk takers who always want to push the envelope of what is possible.  Because we often find ourselves in unchartered territory, we don’t do a lot of looking back.  Our motto is similar to the Navy SEALs’:  adapt, improvise, overcome.

What companies do you look up to for inspiration? 

While many people look at companies such as Apple or Google as beacons of startup success stories, for me Intel is just as worthy, if not more.  Often overlooked, as they have become such an integral part of the landscape, Intel’s advances in microprocessors, memory chips and integrated circuits revolutionised computers, computing and communications.  Their go-to-market strategy as a value-added, ingredient brand is a campaign that is still studied and taught today. They made computing power and digital memory accessible and affordable while maintaining strict quality standards; ideas that are directly relatable to what we do at Zwipe.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned building Zwipe?

I can’t define a single lesson; it feels like I am continually learning.  I suppose that is the lesson:  never stop learning; never stop growing.

What distinguishes Zwipe from its competitors?

The good/bad thing is that Zwipe doesn’t have many (if any) competitors. We have created a technology that is unique, not only in its design, but in our ability to commercialize it on a mass scale.  A lot can happen between ‘idea’ and ‘implementation’, so we are very, very proud that we have been able to cross that chasm with success.

What are the qualities of a kickass startup team in your eyes?

Enthusiasm, flexibility and a good sense of humor.


Missed out on the FIAs 2016? Get a flavour of what the biggest names in finance are predicting about the industry with our interviews from the night on the most exciting trends in fintech, the biggest challenges facing the industry and where the most lucrative opportunities for disruption are.

To secure your table at next year’s awards or discuss partnership opportunities, get in touch with Stephen McMaugh at [email protected] or call +44 (0)208 080 9164. 

Related reading