In many ways, banks and Fintech are two sides of the same coin. Both bring financial service to consumers and companies and must deal with unique regulatory burdens. Yet, despite this commonality, the two often take a different approach to solving this problem.
Banks, for the most part, took a “build it and they will come” approach. High entry barriers meant that consumers never really had much of a voice or choice when it came to financial service. Rather, banks built products they thought the public needed, and business would flow in. For years, this strategy seemed to work.
Recently, though, Fintech companies flipped that equation on its head. Instead of building the product first and hoping customers would come, these innovators set out to reinvent the banking experience. To date, these efforts continue to be successful. From payments to lending, and beyond, Fintechs enjoy an ever-increasing market share.
Why Fintechs and Bankers might not be enemies after all
It’s tempting to assume that banks and Fintechs are in a constant game of ‘tug-o-war’ for the retail market given their opposite approach to providing financial services. While that logic holds true to a limited extent, the reality is becoming less about competition and more about collaboration.
After all, banks have a strong suite of products and the scale to make them cost-effective. Fintechs can quickly reach niches with customized services and experiences banks can’t easily scale down to. This cross-sector collaboration can help both parties deliver on their stated mission: bringing (better) financial services to the masses.
The Open Banking movement is key to fostering these partnerships by liberating financial data from financial institutions and placing it into innovators’ hands. Be it a bank or a Fintech, any institution can then use this data to raise the standard of banking services.
It sounds lofty, but don’t take our word for it: banks and Fintechs have been hard at work on this partnership for some time now. Here are 6 examples of banks and Fintechs collaborating for innovation.
6 innovative projects between banks and Fintechs
N26 and TransferWise
German neobank N26 is no stranger to Fintech. As one of Europe’s Fintech unicorns, the company knows the value of building quickly using partnerships and collaboration. To that end, N26 partnered with money remittance Fintech TransferWise to give its client low-cost access to over 30 currency pairs.
Spain has one of the most competitive retail banking markets in Europe. To help customers send small amounts faster than traditional bank transfers, the industry created Bizum. With the Spanish central bank’s backing, users can use the app to send and make payments from their phones, both between peers and with participating businesses.
Tradeshift and HSBC
Retail finance might get the bulk of the collaboration between Fintech and banks, yet that doesn’t mean other banking verticals can’t benefit. HSBC recently partnered with global supply chain finance company Tradeshift. In their agreement, the bank will use Tradeshifts’s platform to automate supplier invoice payments, speeding up and adding transparency to lengthy payment cycles.
As banking becomes more complex and financial data continues to proliferate, banks must ensure that their systems can keep up with their AML and KYC requirements. We’ve recently seen just how inadequate the current controls are. Here, Fintech partnerships can provide a solution to this problem.
A consortium of Nordic banks, including giants Danske Bank, Nordea, and SEB, came together to launch Fintech Invidem to help improve their KYC/AML operations. Using data provider Encompass, Invidem acts as a ‘central clearing’ for sharing, validating, and reporting transactions and customer data.
BBVA account aggregation for anyone who wants it
Some banks don’t wait for a Fintech to come along and disrupt their business, taking users along the way. These brave institutions instead welcome Open Banking and other tech solutions into their ecosystems.
Spanish Bank BBVA has long supported financial innovation. It should come as no surprise that the group was one of the first to allow its customers to connect external accounts into its app. Here, BBVA clients can aggregate their global balances for queries and transfers. If that wasn’t daring enough, the bank lets non-clients use the app as their own, better banking interface.
ABN Amro’s Grip
Dutch ABN Amro recognizes that engaging with consumers even if they aren’t customers is key to maintaining market share. As a result, it developed the Grip app. This tool is a personal financial manager that lets users connect to six different Dutch banks. From there, they can get insights on spending as well as coaching on making better financial decisions.
Bank-Fintech collaboration – the key for leading innovation
On the surface, the relationship between banks and Fintechs appears competitive, with nimble rivals nipping at the heels of slow-moving giants. Yet, beyond the media hype. Both sides will need each other to evolve their businesses.
It’s no surprise, then, that over 4/5ths of all banks see Fintech collaboration as a key driver for their innovative endeavors. Open Banking will only continue to make these collaborations more commonplace as banks catch up to Fintechs in deploying more APIs while taking a more customer-centric approach to delivering their services.
It’s yet to be seen if this “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach will pay off. However, if it does look like a winning formula, the remaining collaboration holdouts might regret their complacency.