1. What is the biggest opportunity for FinTechs in the next 12 months?
It’s no industry secret that FinTechs command consumer appeal. We aren’t held back by legacy systems or tradition, so can afford to take risks, experiment with new technologies and deliver new and improved financial services.
As a result, the spotlight on FinTechs often shines exclusively on a perceived conflict with banks and the race to grow market share. However, it is this relationship with existing financial institutions that can hold the biggest opportunities over the next year. At Divido for instance, we recognise the importance of working alongside our banking community, building lasting relationships which are beneficial to all parties involved. We are proud to be working with some of the leading established, as well as challenger, banks in the UK and across the world, who are using our platform to supercharge their digital offering.
Every FinTech is aiming to solve a number of the very real problems which banks face. For example, the typical high street bank will deliver hundreds of different products and services, but this is often reliant on antiquated support systems, siloed divisions and high maintenance fees. This breakdown in communication and tired infrastructure can be detrimental to their competitive position. If FinTechs are able to focus on delivering only one of those services, and do it really well, more and more banks will approach FinTechs like us in the future to understand how they can work with, not against, us to boost their services and in turn, their ROI too.
2. How should established banks collaborate with specialist FinTech providers?
In order to build a mutually beneficial relationship with FinTechs, many banks choose to set up a VC fund or run their own local incubator. The latter is growing in popularity and often grabs the headlines. Yet, I believe this is the wrong approach. While they are often sold on their benefits, including exposure, mentorship and advice, these programmes are often run with limited funding, have restricted geographical reach and struggle to attract and retain the best operators. As a result, both the bank and FinTech often gain very little.
Instead, the best way for banks to collaborate with FinTech providers is through a neutral partner that can aggregate many FinTechs. At Divido, we have had great experience working with Mastercard Labs and StartPath, which constantly scans and selects the best FinTechs around the world, bringing them together for the banks to meet and greet in a very efficient and productive way.
3. How should FinTechs balance the need to grow their company vs the need to grow their audience?
We work with some of the largest banks in the world, many of which have a brand awareness and customer base which we could only ever dream of securing in our current stage of operations. However, it is through exploiting this relationship that we are able to grow our company and audience simultaneously, and this is where the opportunity lies for other FinTechs too.
Many do not realise that growing your company versus growing your audience doesn’t need to be separated. Through collaborating with banks, FinTechs can showcase their solution within a successful brand, boosting retention and inevitably increasing the number of partners they work with. In turn, this means greater exposure to clients and opportunities to display how great their proposition is to a broader range of audiences. Afterall, we win when our banks’ clients win, we mustn’t forget that.
4. How can FinTechs reach the same level of trust as established incumbents?
As a relatively new entrant to the market, particularly in contrast with large banks, gaining trust is difficult. So we started with the basics. One of our core values is that we always do the right thing; the right thing for our customers and our partners. This means broadcasting our legitimacy through ensuring we are regulated by the FCA, we are compliant with GDPR and certified for ISO27001 for IT security.
By tying ourselves to industry-recognised regulations, we can demonstrate that we are an organisation who is not only taking policy seriously and keeping the customer at our heart, but we are a company who can be trusted. For consumers, it can be too easy to believe that while FinTechs are changing the way of interacting with financial services, their adolescence is a sign of unreliability.
These are the perceptions which must be refuted. And so, in addition to proving our legitimacy, FinTechs can benefit from being affiliated with other trusted partners. For instance, we partnered with American Express, a brand Forbes declared as the world’s most admired within consumer finance. By aligning with well-established names, consumers immediately marry their trust of this brand, with yours.
5. What has surprised you most about your reception from the major industry players?
No one wants to be first. Banks are reluctant to set a precedent and make the first move in case it comes back to bite them. For this reason, we approached challenger banks and P2P lenders with Divido’s solution, knowing that they do not have the same legacy issues as the large incumbents. However, once we demonstrated just how well our platform can perform, the major players started approaching us to ask how we can work together. It seems as though once one makes a move, everyone else wants to follow out of fear of being left behind.
Christer Holloman is the CEO and co-founder of Divido, a platform for retailers, lenders and payment providers to offer their customers the option to pay monthly for any product or service. Divido works with over 700 partners including HTC, BMW and BNP Paribas. Divido connects multiple competing lenders, delivering high accept rates and low fees. The platform is also omni-channel, available online, in-store and via mobile, and works across multiple countries through one integration.