Fintech: Friend or Foe? Why are we still asking?

Fintech: Friend or Foe? Why are we still asking? fintech

I have been travelling a good part of 2016 having just returned from Money2020 and recently the UK where Horizn was fortunate to attend an invitation-only European Digital Banking conference near London. While in London a similar question was asked, “Which side are you on?” both the startups and some of the largest and smartest minds were in attendance pondering this question.

One of the most interesting answers I have seen to date on this question is a LinkedIn post by Sabrina Del Prete, Digital Director at Williams & Glyn /RBS. Digital transformation in banking – is it a mission impossible?

She states, “The key word in Digital Transformation is indeed “Transformation” and not “Digital”. Doing digital is fun, creative and rewarding – it’s a journey that you take with a light heart and a sense of optimism. Transforming a business in a sector that for hundreds of years has remained virtually unchanged, programmed for risk aversion and centred around products rather than clients is hard – cynicism and resilience are essential travel companions.”

As the CEO of Horizn, which has always been on the bank side of digital transformation, versus the “disrupting” startups, I am always surprised by the focus on this question. Maybe it’s simply because there are no sides. Transformation can’t happen without collaboration. If you are on the side of transformation, you are indeed on both the banks and the fintech side. The digital age has no respect for borders and the movement of money will have no borders either. I would venture to say innovation and transformation have no borders. Just take a look at the giants, Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. Emerging fintech companies and traditional financial institutions will eventually have no borders, as both players need each other to define and advance the new financial landscape.

Many consumers are adopting innovation faster than most banks. Banks need to innovate, arguably faster than their customers are. Banks need to be innovating internally, partnering with fintechs and be focused on getting their digital innovation to market. Or more importantly, there needs to be a cultural of adoption for both the bank employees and their customers that could help propel and embrace innovation. In a world that becomes 100% more intelligent every 18 months, is of the essence. Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce) is very clear on this: “Speed is the new currency of business”

Digital transformation we know has the potential to change the role of today’s banks, and simultaneously help them create a better bank for the digital age. It is simply a time for action, partnerships and for collaboration. It is time for banks with their internal stakeholders and outside fintechs to partner collectively to build banks for the digital age.

For us at Horizn we also know that, “build it and they will come” is a myth. We believe in the need for digital and cultural transformation, both for the bank employees and for the customers they serve. To dramatically accelerating market adoption of digital transformation will mean getting both employees and customers digitally fluent. The key elements of the Horizn platform are, to drive awareness, adoption and increase revenues by inciting employees and customers to learn the latest digital innovation. Fast!


is Founding Partner CEO Horizn (Horizon Studios)