Dossier «The Future of Finance: Ethics, Technology and Globalisation» coordinated by Joan LlobetISSUE 10 (NOV 2018)
A NEW ENVIRONMENT Fintech and the reinvention of finance

The banking industry is facing a major transformation of its activity due to the need to reinvent its services (which are expensive and not designed for online use), the change in user demand for digital products and the need to adjust inefficient structures. Traditionally the financial sector has been almost exclusively an area for financial institutions, but the falling cost of technologies has led to the emergence of new players in the industry, such as fintechs, with alternative proposals in all spheres of financial activity, through new mobile-first and data-driven formulas. However, after a few years, most of these new companies experience scalability problems and, going against their original philosophy, they end up collaborating with banks, generating a partnership of mutual interest: fintechs contribute to the transformation of the bank, and with the support of the bank, they achieve growth that they would not achieve alone. Through these banking-fintech partnerships, a paradox arises in that these entities which initially challenged the banks may end up being their point of support, ensuring the change to the banking sector is quicker and more transformational than disruptive. Conversely, the fintechs that remain in competition with the banks (between 20% and 25%) are forced into mergers, agreements, etc. in order to break-even. In Spain, the growth problems in these areas of competition with the banks (robo-advisors and crowdlending) seem even more intense than in other countries.

The most significant problem for banks comes from the large tech operators that have the capacity to unseat financial institutions in some of the most profitable spheres of activity. It seems impossible for banks to maintain total control of the business in the spheres that are shared with tech operators, such as purchase payments and money transfers. However, banks have an advantage in terms of their widely-recognised customer data protection management, which is a value in which they clearly exceed the fintechs.

Banks are developing multiple agreement strategies with fintechs, such as direct purchases, acceleration and incubation programmes, venture capital funds, service agreements and partnership agreements. Proper analysis of each area of innovation is crucial to identify the contributions made by a fintech, and the key variables are the capacity to generate volume and ability to displace current banking services. This article proposes a relationship model consisting of the gradual integration of fintechs into banking environments through: i) integration into the core of the bank; ii) collaboration or service agreements; iii) contributing to their development through acceleration and incubation programmes and the launch of “challenger” programmes or competitions to discover talent.

FinTech;  fintech ecosystem;  banking digitalisation;  banking transformation;  digital finance transformation;  bank-fintech collaboration; 
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