Cash-flow forecasting for the smaller enterprise

Asteria extends its reach with IBM Cloud for Financial Services
by Kristin Johnson
5-minute read
Woman on a laptop

Great partnerships start with great relationships — relationships built on trust, synergy, clear communication and a shared vision for success. The partnership between financial technology provider Asteria AB and IBM is a case in point.

Since 2018, Asteria has hosted its cash-flow forecasting solution for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) on IBM Cloud®, establishing strong ties to the IBM team along the way. In July 2020, those connections deepened when Asteria became one of the first independent software vendors (ISVs) to join the IBM Cloud for Financial Services ecosystem. The ecosystem enables banks to transact with ISVs in a public cloud environment that meets financial institutions’ stringent security and compliance requirements.

“We have a great dialogue with IBM here in Sweden, and I’d known about IBM Cloud for Financial Services for quite some time,” says Asteria Founder and Chief Executive Officer Anders Nordkvist. “Prior to its launch, our IBM contact met with us to discuss how the ecosystem could benefit us and how we could contribute to it. And that’s the journey we’re now taking.”

That journey started a few years earlier with an idea. While working in the banking industry, Nordkvist observed several common challenges that translated into a potential business opportunity.

“Smaller companies struggle on a daily basis with liquidity management,” he says. “They struggle to make sure clients pay invoices on time, and the overall administrative burden is too spread out and complicated. They often don’t get the support they need from their banks. At the same time, banks struggle to connect with this SME market and provide them with relevant services.”

Deepened partnership in July of

2020

by joining the IBM Cloud for Financial Services ecosystem

The ecosystem now includes

50+

ISVs

There’s a trustworthiness built into the IBM brand that you can’t get with any other cloud provider.
Anders Nordkvist
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Asteria AB

A technology entrepreneur at heart, Nordkvist formed Asteria to develop an online service that banks could offer to help SMEs manage their finances. Having witnessed the impact of unexpected financial demands on a small organization, Nordkvist wanted to develop a solution designed to support SME owners in liquidity management and planning by focusing on what’s most important: cash flow.

To create an offering and bring it to market, Asteria needed to team with a global IT provider offering flexible but highly reliable cloud infrastructure. Seeking a cloud platform supporting open-source integration and agile processes for its developers, the startup company also required hybrid hosting options and stringent data security for its future banking partners.

Two colleagues working on financials
Woman on a tablet working on financials
With IBM … we have a partnership and a dialogue that’s incredibly good. And the reputation IBM has for data privacy is extremely important for us in appealing to financial institutions.
Anders Nordkvist
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Asteria AB
A smart cash-flow service launched on IBM Cloud
With IBM … we have a partnership and a dialogue that’s incredibly good. And the reputation IBM has for data privacy is extremely important for us in appealing to financial institutions.
Anders Nordkvist
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Asteria AB

Connecting with an IBM Cloud team during a startup accelerator event, Asteria joined the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program to develop its solution with IBM Cloud technology. “There’s a trustworthiness built into the IBM brand that you can’t get with any other cloud provider,” says Nordkvist. “And everything can be open source – IBM Cloud doesn’t lock us up in any way. It’s a key factor when working with top-talent developers today. With IBM … we have a partnership and a dialogue that’s incredibly good. And the reputation IBM has for data privacy is extremely important for us in appealing to financial institutions.”

Asteria uses microservices architecture built on a Kubernetes framework for agile, efficient application development. The container-based architecture allows the company’s development team to work within a hybrid cloud environment across disparate locations, quickly and easily developing, reviewing and deploying new code into public or private cloud environments.

“Developers want to work in a flexible way,” says Nordkvist. “They want to work with their own technology and have the possibility of developing in their local environment. This is also the case with our banking partners. By hosting everything in a cluster and using the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service we can move whatever microservice we want to another environment at any time.”

Incorporating AI technology, Asteria created a smart cash-flow solution for banks to provide as a value-added online service. The platform analyzes data from an SME’s business software and its bank account, producing a visual financial forecast that gives business owners a clear view of cash flow over time and helps them anticipate potential shortfalls.

With the IBM Cloud Object Storage service, Asteria can cost-effectively scale data storage as the user base for its platform grows. A simple interface within the IBM Cloud console allows the company to select hosting locations, allocate resources and classify data into storage tiers, all on an as-needed basis.

Two colleagues working on financials
Two women working on financials
We will onboard a lot of clients and that means we need to have the capacity to handle massive amounts of data. We wouldn’t be able to deliver what we do without IBM Cloud.
Anders Nordkvist
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Asteria AB
Frictionless energy transactions
We will onboard a lot of clients and that means we need to have the capacity to handle massive amounts of data. We wouldn’t be able to deliver what we do without IBM Cloud.
Anders Nordkvist
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Asteria AB

While providing Asteria with a flexible environment for application development, the IBM Cloud solution also offers the hybrid hosting and solution development capabilities the company needs to meet individual customer demands. If a banking institution requires a private, on-premises deployment, Asteria can easily deliver.

Teaming with IBM has also proven highly beneficial for Asteria in going to market with its solution and engaging potential customers. “With IBM, we get support when we need it, including in our marketing,” says Nordkvist. “We have a partnership and a dialogue that’s incredibly good. And the reputation IBM has for data privacy is extremely important for us in appealing to financial institutions.”

Asteria’s initial engagements include a deployment of its offering with Swedbank AB, among Sweden’s largest banking groups. Positioned to expand its user base across the Nordic region and beyond, the company has the optimal cloud infrastructure in place to scale as business demands. “We will onboard a lot of clients and that means we need to have the capacity to handle massive amounts of data,” says Nordkvist. “We wouldn’t be able to deliver what we do without IBM Cloud.”

Looking forward, Asteria is exploring the adoption of Red Hat® OpenShift®. “We’ve already built some of the features into our infrastructure,” says Nordkvist. “Two of its greatest potential benefits to us are its flexibility and its reputation in the industry for increased security, scalability and reliability.”

As part of its new partnership with IBM, Asteria ultimately plans to migrate its offerings from IBM Cloud to IBM Cloud for Financial Services. “In the short term, it will not change our business model,” says Nordkvist. “But in the mid- to long-term, I’m hopeful it will. For example, we could offer a light version of our services directly in IBM Cloud for Financial Services, potentially changing how we charge for them. It’s even possible we could charge cloud credits for our services directly in the cloud.”

He also sees potential benefits from an industry perspective. “I think IBM Cloud for Financial Services is a great initiative,” says Nordkvist. “I believe it can help banks build an ecosystem around their core offerings, while making it easier for them to offer services to their clients. Because that’s how I envision the industry evolving.”

As with all great partnerships, a commitment to shared success is key. “We plan to start the journey now as part of the ecosystem and to help build value for everyone – for IBM, its clients and our end users,” says Nordkvist. “That’s what we will do to invest in this relationship. That’s what I see right now. It’s going to happen.”

Asteria logo
About Asteria AB

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, AsteriaExternal Link offers smart cashflow software designed to deliver the financial insight businesses need to manage liquidity and stay ahead of the competition. The organization launched in 2016 to pursue its founders’ vision: providing next-generation cash-flow technology to help people grow their companies and reduce administrative overhead.

Solution components
Asteria logo
About Asteria AB

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, AsteriaExternal Link offers smart cashflow software designed to deliver the financial insight businesses need to manage liquidity and stay ahead of the competition. The organization launched in 2016 to pursue its founders’ vision: providing next-generation cash-flow technology to help people grow their companies and reduce administrative overhead.

Solution components