A new kind of everything: Selected trends in digital payments and related FinTech

5 minute read
5 minute read

A new kind of everything: Selected trends in digital payments and related FinTech

Everyone wants to be “current”, but wading through the volumes of articles, blogs, reports, white papers and opinions relating to all things “FinTech” is a daunting challenge. To help you cut through the noise, we have selected a number of recent papers and posts which we think provide a good backdrop for the rapidly changing digital commerce landscape. This initial collection includes six of the most important recent reports from leading management consulting firms, and we have summarized and consolidated their key insights relating to the future of our industry. (You can find a list of the reports and their URLs at the bottom of this article.)

Stay tuned. Over the coming months we will be sharing more insights relevant to the evolution of digital commerce.

A new kind of customer. With the ubiquity of smartphones and easy-to-use apps, consumer standards for both service quality and service experience have risen to a new level. Boston Consulting Group’s “Banking on Digital Simplicity” report explains that customers now expect a “bionic” banking experience: instantly accessible and intuitive technology for their day to day activities, and human interaction for their more complicated needs. BCG argues that banks that do not differentiate themselves by offering a better customer journey will risk being viewed as “public utilities” – with all the pricing pressure and lowered profitability that goes with that status. Even banks’ traditional competitive advantage in customer trust is no longer an impermeable defense: in their latest World Retail Banking Report, CapGemini and Efma show that while banks remain leaders in consumer trust, a whopping 87.9% of consumers now somewhat or completely trust FinTech-provided services as well. Since trust is largely influenced by experiences, it is also important to note that according to the same report only 48% of Gen Y customers in North America reported positive experiences with their banks. This new, more demanding kind of customer will continue to grow in importance – possibly quite rapidly. EY’s latest FinTech Adoption Index shows that while Canadians lag their global peers in the adoption of FinTech products – at only 8.2% of digitally-active consumers versus 15.5% globally – this is set to change rapidly as Canadians’ awareness of FinTech improves (57% of non-users said they weren’t aware of FinTech alternatives). Banks largely see this shift as both inevitable and in-progress: according to PwC’s “Blurred Lines: How FinTech is Shaping Financial Services”, 61% of financial institution executives globally believe that within five years 60% of their clients will regularly be using mobile apps to access their services.

A new kind of ecosystem. Change is also happening at a systemic, industry-wide level. CapGemini/Efma observe that 96% of bank executives see the financial system as evolving steadily into a “digital ecosystem” embedded within a secure, regulated framework. It is an evolution, though, that will hardly be easy. 87% of executives in the same survey believe their existing infrastructures cannot support this new environment, while radically new technologies are as yet only partially understood – only 30% of executives in the fund transfer and payment sector feel that they have “fairly complete knowledge” of how blockchain works, notes PwC, and executives in other financial sectors report even lower levels of understanding. While the development of open APIs are an accelerating phenomenon – something encouraged (even demanded) by regulations like PSD2 and XS2A (Access to Accounts) – difficulties with legacy system integration will often require expensive “core transformation” initiatives before they can bear full fruit. There is broad agreement that the effort will be worth it, however. As PwC points out, banking industry players see APIs and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings as important elements of a future in which they’re able to provide customers with new services more rapidly and inexpensively than ever.

A new kind of partner. There is also broad agreement that success will require a different approach to innovation. The financial institution that seeks to solve a problem entirely by its own efforts is an increasingly rare bird – the overwhelming trend, instead, is towards partnership and collaboration. The rapid rise of FinTech has presented both a challenge – PwC respondents predict 28% of their banking and payments business may be at risk by 2020 – and a potential solution: 65% of bank executives see partnerships with FinTech companies as the best way to deal with the threat they present (while only 28% see them as competitors), note CapGemini and Efma. In “FinTechs May Be Corporate Banks’ Best ‘Frenemies’”, BCG points to the specific capabilities that make FinTechs attractive to incumbents: specialized services, low costs, digitally-enhanced features, their ability to reach under-served customer segments, and strong data analytics. Banks are making acquisitions a core element in their strategies, too, with some building corporate venture capital funds of $100m or more. All of this partnering seems equally attractive to the FinTech players themselves; with start-up financing declining in the now-consolidating North American payments space, observes KPMG in “The Pulse of FinTech, Q1 2016”, more than a quarter of FinTech funding deals involve corporate participation. Beyond their new connections with financial institutions, FinTechs are seeking growth by allying with each other, with players in other industries, and even with regulators.

In short, we are witnessing an entire industry in transition, with technology enabling new entrants and new services, in turn sparking more demanding customer expectations and requiring a difficult but necessary sea change in how incumbents do business – and who they do business with. We’re excited to bring you more detailed looks at these and other trends in future posts.


CapGemini/Efma              World Retail Banking Report 2016

EY                                         EY FinTech Adoption Index

KPMG                                  The Pulse of FinTech, Q1 2016

PwC                                    Blurred Lines: How FinTech is Shaping Financial Services

BCG                                     Global Retail Banking 2016: Banking on Digital Simplicity

BCG                                     FinTechs May Be Corporate Banks’ Best “Frenemies”


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