Are Fintechs a Buzzword or a Bad word?

5 mins read

We sell our queue management system to some of the world’s largest banks, which automates and digitally transforms some of their existing manual processes. As such, we come under the broad classification of being a “fintech.”

Thing is, we don’t want to be painted by this particular brush. When it comes to selling to banks, calling yourself a fintech is more of a bad word than a buzzword that sells. Allow me to explain.

Fintech vs Fintechs

What banking pain points are you solving?

It’s trendy to hashtag your social profiles under tags such as #fintech and #digitaltransformation. But no bank comes to us asking for fintech. It can also be arguably asserted that none of their banking customers know or care about what is fintech.

What they do come to us for is solving specific banking challenges or pain points. For example, right now, we’re getting many enquiries from banks and their IT services providers asking for how we can help them implement safe distancing compliance to avoid crowding and long queues in branches.

Fintech vs Fintechs

Fintech is an acronym for financial technology, but fintechs are the startups that are offering innovative or alternative digital banking services to consumers. So the bank can’t ignore fintech, but has to compete against fintechs.

The upshot of it is that banking institutions are co-opting fintech into their process, but they don’t want to use that word, which for them is a reminder of the competition. This is another reason why we don’t want to use this word fintech in our sales pitch to banks.

Fintech Innovation Labs as gatekeepers

If you approach a bank that has set up its own innovation lab and you say you’re a fintech, their default response is to send you to the people running the lab. The innovation labs have become gatekeepers for any “fintech” pilots deployed by the bank, so a quick and easy implementation by a local branch or region is out of the question.

Fintech providers may have to go through a 6-month contest ot pilot program to know whether you are going to get the contract. Far easier for the tech provider and the bank decision makers within a city to say that it is a digital queue management system that all the local branches in the city can implement within a day.

End of banking as we know it. Or not...

Modern banking is a very old business (see our history of banking timeline), which goes all the way back to 1695, when the Bank of England issued the first paper banknote. They’ve seen a long line of buzz words, innovations and technologies come and go, or be assimilated into the banking system, which has managed to survive everything to-date.

It could also end up the other way around, with successful fintechs acquiring banks. For example, LendingClub recently purchased Radius Bank for $185 million in what was dubbed as the first fintech takeover of a regulated US bank.

So the question - are fintechs going to mean the end of banking as we know it, or not...Bankers think they’ll survive this too, so we don’t want to second guess our customers. They’re always right.

By Neel Padmanabhan

September 18th, 2020 ·

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