Solving the Puzzle of Interoperability.

  • Anders la Cour, CEO at Banking Circle Group

  • 23.10.2022 10:17 am

It’s nothing new to say that digitalisation is transforming the way we do business across the globe, and that, paradoxically, the world is actually becoming smaller through that process. But despite this revolution, the underlying infrastructure in many industries remains largely unchanged.

The front-end of commerce today has already been transformed and globalised – I can buy something online from a different country and expect a great customer experience and fast delivery – but the back-end process, which the customer doesn’t see, is still outdated and often disconnected. While there is undoubtedly a huge amount of innovation and digitalisation happening, it is generally still in silos. 

In the payments world, there is a real lack of interoperability, whether it’s between payment systems and schemes, the connections between different geographical markets, or even between fiat and digital currencies. As companies accelerate the digitalisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions, there is a growing need for modern-age financial solutions.

New players have disrupted the status quo in banking and payments, but in this new landscape there is a need for back-end financial services providers who can handle the nuances of infrastructure, leaving FinTechs to focus on their services and their customers.

The banking and financial services sector is seeing some really interesting trends at the moment. Following the 2008 financial crisis, FinTechs came into the market and each attacked specific parts of the value chain – whether it was payments, lending, or FX. That shook things up, as these new entrants were providing better customer service, and in some cases were both cheaper and faster than the incumbents.

But a decade on, we’re seeing yet more change – FinTechs are now looking to offer a range of products and services that combine the benefits of an efficient user experience and trust in a brand. Organisations are rebundling the products that were unbundled during the first wave of disruption. That, coupled with the accelerated digitalisation driven by the pandemic, has led to businesses increasingly recognising the value of delivering multiple solutions over a single platform online. 

It’s a shift that echoes the evolution we have already witnessed in other industries, such as telecommunications, where bundling as a strategy has helped offer more value to customers and maximise customer lifetime value. 

Multi-solution platforms are great for improving customer stickiness – they allow you to go beyond solving just one problem for the customer, and instead to offer a complete lifecycle of financial services. By expanding their propositions, FinTechs can ultimately better serve the end-customer. But to do that well, they need to provide both the services that customers want, as well as those that they might need but not yet realise it – all without compromising on brand value or mission. It can be a tough balance to strike, but when done well, bundling delivers competitive advantage to individual organisations and improves the FinTech industry’s value as a whole. 

According to the latest Global Banking Annual Review from McKinsey, the valuation gap between the leaders in the banking industry and those trailing behind is widening, and capital markets are anticipating a ‘great divergence’ between the leaders and followers. Examining how financial services firms can future-proof their business models, the report suggests that “top performers bring customers into an ecosystem, connecting them with other services and building a dynamic and distinctive customer experience.”

It's clear that there is great opportunity for financial services firms to continue to harness digitalisation and innovation in the current landscape, with rebundling as the latest phase of the fintech evolution. But the puzzle piece that still needs connecting is the interoperability of financial systems and spaces, and the connections between global markets.

We see ourselves at Banking Circle Group as a bridge to create that interoperability. We were built for the digital economy, and as a multi-solution platform we enable payment companies, banks and global marketplaces to deliver cross-border banking and embedded finance products to their own customers through our next generation technology. 

We want to facilitate easy movement between financial systems and services, regardless of the markets that our clients and their own customers are in. As a back-end provider for other financial services businesses, our focus is on taking away the complexity and handling the infrastructure, leaving our clients to focus on what they do best. 

At the centre of our ecosystem is Banking Circle S.A., a payments bank that is fully licensed yet free from the legacy systems that can make traditional business banking slow and expensive. The bank delivers global payments and banking services by connecting to the world’s clearing systems, and was built with a mission to increase efficiency and reduce the costs around cross-border transactions. 

Since its launch in 2016, Banking Circle has grown rapidly and we have committed significant investment to the integration of a vast network of local clearing and payments schemes to build a super-correspondent banking network. Add to that the rich set of complementary solutions within our Group ecosystem, and we have a full stack solution for today’s commerce players.

As a Group we have already processed more than $250bn in transactions volumes and are growing at pace. Now, we’re preparing for a bigger expansion into the U.S. market, which is set to kick-off later this year. It’s a region I see our interoperability strategy as being a great fit for, as the North American financial system is unique and remains fragmented.

As a Group we’ll be providing banking, payments and embedded finance services. With Banking Circle S.A. being licensed in both Luxembourg and the U.S., we won’t be going up against existing local banks in the region, but rather will be enabling those in the U.S. to operate in and out of the country and into any country in Europe where we have clearing access, and vice versa. Through us, banks and financial institutions in the U.S. can enable their own customers to operate in Europe and receive domestic payments from the region. Two of our Group businesses are already live in the U.S., which means we can also offer business payments and card issuing through B4B Payments, and embedded finance from YouLend.

Our focus in the U.S. will really be on enhancing the global payment capabilities of our clients in the region and making cross-border trade easier, all by leveraging our financial technology platform to act as a connecting bridge.

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