Why are banks “trying to shapeshift” into technology companies?

Technology in Fintech 1.0 and disruption made banks stop and take notice but Fintech 2.0 is all about letting banks in and allowing them to have a stake in the space. However, during Fintech 1.0 a lot of banks were forced to make what most in the industry saw as knee-jerk decisions, adopting questionable strategies. Most banks are still following the same strategies.

Banks as “technology companies with a banking license”?

Quite a few bank CEOs and executives view their banks as “tech­nol­ogy com­panies with a bank­ing license.” Yes, it is not inconceivable that banks have a lot of developers.

Sil­i­con Val­ley will be com­pet­ing with us very soon. We are ready – JPMorgan, 2014

Can banks trans­form into real soft­ware com­pa­nies? Click To Tweet

Successful banks in the future will need to be “Fintech” companies as well – blending their financial services with specific technology aimed at their customers – Fidor Bank, 2015

Or should they even be trying? Executives may be tempted to pitch this idea to board members, but the reality is that banks have very little say (or non at all)anymore on how the standards for digital banking are defined. Fintech 2.0 has ensured that the playing field is in favor of Fintechs and not the banks.

So what should banks really be doing? Their focus should be on capturing and analyzing customer transactions with the new mobile channels and then pivoting towards a fully digital relationship. However, this is where the C-Word comes into play.

While Fintech 1.0 was all about disruption, Fintech 2.0 is about facilitating collaboration. Click To Tweet

If banks insist on shapeshift­ing into tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, and becom­ing bank­ing plat­forms instead of an amalgamation of accounts and mort­gage prod­ucts, will they develop a corresponding ecosys­tem as part of a broader strategy? Would this be a transitional measure towards a more radical transformation? NO. Although banks absolutely need technology to survive today and grow tomorrow, they still need to be banks.

Bottom line is, customers don’t want banks!

Clearly there is a case for demanding the abolition of banking as we know it. Fintech has already proved that it’s not a utopian idea. However, would that require the abolition of the state of affairs that needs banking? The bottom line is, customers don’t want banks! They want what the bank can facilitate and that is “rocket fuel” for Fintech. But what does the banking system do that we actually need? Currently, banks perform a number of functional requirements: management of money, access to money and the ability to purchase things with credit. For a consumer, the primary goal is “buying something” easily, more conveniently, faster and cheaper. This means that “banking” and “technology” as an enabler of banking is tertiary.

I’d love to know what you think on this topic. So let’s keep the conversation going. Comment below.

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A marketing expert for the first-to-be-licensed E-Money institute in Germany, PayCenter GmbH. He has experience in developing online marketing campaigns, online & mobile product launches, and EU funding regulation. He is an active fintech blogger with interests in online banking, mobile banking, mobile payment, and insurance.

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