From the basement to the NASDAQ how Penneo signed up digitally its own success

May 23, 2023
Wojciech Kwilecki

It all started back in 2014 in a basement in Copenhagen. Six founders had a simple idea: kill the pen. A pen is a tool, neo means new. The result was a company named Penneo – a new kind of digital pen. Today the firm is listed on the Nasdaq Copenhagen main market. Here is the story behind their success.

It was usually in the spring, when accountants had a headache doing annual reports, signing all these documents and coordinating an endless workflow of papers: from partners to a CEO via management, Board of Directors, and so on. The number of documents to sign in the companies was very time-consuming. What is more, the volume of documents had to be stored somewhere in files, binders and figures, so it took up a lot of space in the office. Plus, it all weighed a lot.  

That's how Penneo started – satisfying the need to digitize and simplify the cumbersome processes by offering an easy-to-use, reliable, and officially recognized digital signing solution, one that saves a lot of time. One Penneo customer estimated that they were able to digitize a million pieces of paper. Another claims she managed to dedicate on average 40 hours (one full working week) to other things than printing, posting, scanning, and following up on document signing.

The digital pen - a weapon against fraud and AML

After providing a secure and compliant digital signature solution to businesses in regulated industries, Penneo identified another challenge these same organizations were dealing with: onboarding new clients in compliance with KYC/AML requirements. Supported by the sharpening of AML laws at EU and international level, Penneo found an attractive market in KYC / AML compliance, providing an opportunity for further growth. This was no surprise, considering the amount of money laundered globally.

Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines in financial services require that professionals make an effort to verify the identity, suitability, and risks involved with maintaining a business relationship. The procedures fit within the broader scope of a bank's anti-money laundering (AML) policy. Banks, insurers, export creditors, and other financial institutions are increasingly demanding that customers provide detailed due diligence information.  

Businesses in regulated industries find themselves with the need to maintain currency with all the new rules and regulations. They are obliged to implement them in their organizations to ensure compliance. These processes can be very time-consuming, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses that might not possess the resources necessary to be compliant with applicable laws. Penneo was aware of the market growth in this segment, quickly becoming a RegTech (Regulatory Technology) company.

Today, Penneo aims to make it easier for companies in regulated industries to be compliant with the relevant AML / KYC regulations. The Danish company offers customers a tool to automate the KYC process, but also act as experts and sparring partners to help the customers with their compliance duties. Sensitive information management is also facilitated by Penneo. One customer report that since implementing Penneo, they no longer have any sensitive information floating around in the email system and people are no longer forgetting to delete emails in 6 months or clear their inbox from any personal employee numbers, CPRs, etc. This is all now automated by Penneo.

Aiming high - software for the audit and accounting

Penneo’s growth over a relatively short period of time was significant. In 2017 the company already held a large part of the Danish market and expanded to Norway and Sweden. In 2018 all the top 10 accounting companies in Denmark were Penneo clients. A significant milestone was achieved on 2 June 2020, when Penneo was listed on the Nasdaq First North. The company successfully delivered on IPO promises by realizing a 50% ARR growth rate in 2021. Another big step came just two years later, when Penneo migrated to the Copenhagen Main Market – a platform on which the company is able to attract larger and international institutional investors and continue its expansion.

"Penneo has been on an impressive growth journey since they became part of the Nasdaq family in 2020, and with their listing on our main market, they show the way for other tech companies that, in addition to raising capital, also want to take the next step on their stock market journey and create additional visibility for investors,” – said Carsten Borring, Head of Listings Nasdaq.

Penneo was the first company admitted to trading on the Nasdaq Copenhagen in 2022 and the 22nd company to be admitted to Nasdaq Nordic’s markets.

Today Penneo is much more than a digital signature provider. Operating in Scandinavia (including Finland) and more recently in Belgium and Germany, it is a B2B company with approximately 2,500 clients. It is a leading ARR-driven software-as-a-service (SaaS) company and a market leader in software for the audit and accounting industry in Nordic countries. The company offers a scalable platform that provides automation features across multiple aspects of digital transactions, and digitizes company workflows related to client onboarding, digital signing, and document management in a compliant, efficient, and easy way. Penneo's basic model of operation is an annual subscription that any firm can buy. It ensures compliance when retrieving data, signing documents, completing regulated workflows, and onboarding clients. It results in reduction of the administrative burden and resources spent on manual repetitive tasks. Clients automate their documents' transactions and gain free time for value-creating work.

Penneo clients today:

  • Audit & Accounting
  • Real Estate
  • Finance & Banking
  • Law
  • General administration

Penneo’s competitive edge over its competitors is an in-depth understanding of clients' businesses and their needs. Currently, two-thirds of all annual reports in Denmark are being signed by Penneo. In Scandinavia the brand is widely recognized among business and administration.  

Penneo and Fingo - a record of good cooperation client and software house

Penneo is first and foremost an IT company that constantly needs to keep up with the market and continuously improve its IT capabilities. This is where FINGO had a valuable opportunity to offer its assistance.  

In 2021, Penneo created a new product team to support API Management efforts. One of the requirements was the fast scalability of resources and people. The company decided to look for external consultants to create a partnership with. The aim was to start designing the envisioned solution together with a dedicated engineering team.

“We quickly thought of FINGO, as some in our team had already worked with FINGO before. So, after some meetings, we decided to begin collaboration with three dedicated FINGO engineers,ˮ recalls Christian Stendevad, Penneo CEO.  

Dawid Kuśmierek, Backend Developer at Fingo, admits that two Penneo employees enjoyed the previous experience of cooperation with FINGO. “They thought we represented a high level of competence,ˮ recalls Dawid Kuśmierek. “Therefore, as soon as they realized a need for an external team for Penneo, they approached us, and so it began.ˮ

From the very beginning, FINGO focused on external integrations with an accounting software provider. It was about situations when other platforms need to be connected with Penneo. “Briefly, such integration allows you to send documents to Penneo directly from another system, instead of downloading and uploading them manually. Thanks to the cooperation with Penneo, FINGO has certainly developed its competence related to Node.js technology, OAuth2 and the widely understood API Management,ˮ admits an expert at FINGO.

“Initially, the FINGO team started by getting acquainted with Penneo’s systems and provided support on one of our existing integrations. After that, the focus moved to the Penneo API Management project, where the team is currently working on designing and developing a new authentication system.ˮ Christian Stendevad concludes.  

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