Why I believe Banks may still win

Some of you may have seen a bit about my leap back in the provider world so I wanted to write and tell you about my reasoning. While this mentions Temenos, Marketplace and my book, it’s honestly not intended as a plug fest so I have tried to keep them to a minimum and focus on the overall picture of the industry and why I believe this to be game changing.

The “Why now?”

When I left the “doing” world of FinTech a couple of years ago it was to focus on the concept of Emotional Banking – design methods that work to help banks succeed and write the book.

Having accomplished that – the methods that work to cause profound cultural change are defined and ready for a bigger consultancy to implement, the book is nearly complete-, and having finally arrived at the title I believed in – “Emotional Banking ™: How to Fix Culture and Use FinTech to Make Banks into Brands” it was clearly time to go back to the “use FinTech” bit.

I knew I wanted to stay at the intersection of CX, UX, Tech and Finance and that I needed to be sure I’ll be using my “a-ha” cultural and industry moments while seeing rapid change at scale as banks are running out of time.

I also knew I couldn’t have dealt with the cognitive dissonance of being an actual banker and having to be patient about change, and anyhow, the offers from them were few and far between, I’m not exactly an evident, politically correct and culturally comfortable hire for any bank.

Lastly, I knew that having been very lucky thus far in my career, I’m forever spoiled and couldn’t work for any company I don’t believe in and respect, which ruled out a lot of the offers from some big names.

The “Why them?”

And then the idea of Temenos came along and it all made perfect sense. First of all it’s a product company – that automatically makes them “doers” (a highly IQed bunch of them at that!)

Then their main offering is so pivotal and core to any bank’s DNA that courage to tackle big themes like new business models, real transformation, etc is built into every interaction Temenos has.

It’s a FinTech success story in its own right – no need to quote numbers but it’s a relatively young company that did nothing but software for banks and absolutely won at every imaginable KPI while staying focused on still being start-uppy in culture and fanatic about brand.

It’s honest and ready to admit it can’t do all the things so they let other providers focus on some of the stuff they won’t build themselves on the middle and front-end.

The “Why it rocks”

Cool as Temenos is, I jumped on board because Marketplace is a game changer. It’s more than a cool idea 1-2 amazingly smart people came up with, it’s an execution path to give their banks a fighting chance to react incredibly fast and still compete.

The premise is clear: there’s no more time to waste – between PSD2 opening the opportunity to all kinds of challengers new and old, and the big brand giants muscling in on financial services, banks need a solid, modern back-end and on the front-end a way to grab at the relationship with the consumer by redesigning the experience if they are to remain in the B2C game.

Temenos’ specialty is of course the solid, modern, back-end while there are hundreds of smaller FinTech providers that have built products for the relationship building front-end. Each of these elements is as urgent as each other and there simply is no more time for banks to be half-pregnant with the idea of innovation and the appetite for checking what FinTech providers fits into their vision through half baked POCs at the end of an accelerator cohort or on the back of an innovation-lab-ran RFP.

Marketplace gives Temenos banks this crucially needed speed (at the click of a button they can see precisely what that respective provider does and how it would fit and that same day they could be playing with it in their own sandbox and it would be days of painless plug-and-play integration away from having that functionality live to their consumers should it be desired!) but also gives them the legal, procurement or technical confidence that this provider was tested, certified and integrated by Temenos.

The beauty of Marketplace is that it’s not only a game changer for the banks but for the FinTech providers (aka the obnoxiously grammatically incorrect “the FinTechs”). Over the past few years, I met hundreds of providers whether at Finovate or while I mentored for StartUpBootCamp, Techstars and others and with a handful I got very much stuck in either as a founder, an employee or an investor so I’ve “been there” when it comes to finding partners to help small start-ups with exceptional products get to scale fast and it’s not an easy ask.

Interestingly, in true FinTech poetic justice fashion, I was once one of these vey providers trying to become a Temenos partner years ago when I was running Meniga’s sales. Let me tell you I would have killed for the opportunity as it is today – become integrated to the back-end, get in front of their 2000 banks and have all the legal, technical and commercial ducks in a row within weeks in lieu of the heavy lifting of a near-endorsement that didn’t end with much in the way of sales.

So I’m beyond excited and I believe this to be revolutionary. Temenos and Marketplace won’t be the only ones smart and brave enough to clearly spell out the time crunch banks are in and offer a clear path to fix that and so realize on the promise of partnership in FinTech, many others will do the same and this is therefore the beginning of the end for the chaos of the FinTech inflation.

The consolidation around value in the industry that I’ve long been speaking about starts here and with it, banks that now have the appetite to become a brand, the methods to culturally adapt around accepting that change has to be profound and fast and an execution path to make that change stand a fighting chance.

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