Competitor & Partner: How the Big Banks Are Dealing With FinTech StartUps and What This Bodes for the Future
- December 2, 2016
China Fintech Shanghai Spring 2016 Forum
In order to face, but also engage with, the competition being created by the flurry of new FinTech StartUps and their various innovations, “right now, [banks] are playing both roles – competitor and partner of FinTech StartUps– because they do not know what the future will look like,” according to one of the panelists during China Fintech’s Shanghai Spring 2016 Forum. The panel consisted of Miguel Solana, Head of Innovation at Santander, Jon-Tzen Ng, Head of Digital at Standard Chartered, Brian Koch, Online Channel Manager at Silicon Valley Bank; and Zennon Kapron, Director of KapronAsia, who was moderating. The event took place on March 23rd at XNode‘s new coworking space in JingAn. Organized by mediaman, KapronAsia, China FinTech and XNode StartUp accelerator, the event was designed to provide attendees with information about the latest trends in financial technology, the future of innovation for banks in China, and the approach being taken in response to the new competition. In this regard, Solana’s observations were shared by his panelists.
According to Brian Koch, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) engages tremendously with the FinTech community, particularly in the United States, with interest to further expand their services abroad. The bank currently works on deepening its partnerships with FinTech payment companies, for example by helping them with leveraging their payment platforms and building up streamline on-boarding. Also, he observed the new orientation of SVB towards biometric FinTech companies that incorporate facial recognition software. Koch argued that the combination of FinTech start-ups’ innovative ideas and traditional banks’ expertise in business model development had a promising future.
Miguel Solana highlighted the speed of current FinTech developments and the need for traditional banks to quickly recognize and respond to new trends. Santander, therefore, focused much of their corporate venture fund on engaging with different think tanks, venture builders and partnerships with various incubators in the US and in London (and soon, maybe in China). Similarly, Standard Chartered’s SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator Programme in Hong Kong, was its first step towards engaging with local and international FinTech companies in Asia.However, Jon-Tzen Ng acknowledged that banks, in general, were still very slow to adapt to the new financial ecosystem.
However, everyone agreed that China was a good starting point for banks to reconsider their own structure and test new business models, as the level of disruption that was occurring here was unique.
According to the panelists, traditional banks would mainly be interested in partnering with FinTech companies that have proven their ability to succeed in the Chinese market, such as WeCash in Beijing; and companies that ease and advance payment processes. Solana added that it was important to distinguish between consumer-related FinTech and corporate-related FinTech. Many of the innovative functionality in the consumer-space could be used by banks in the commercial space, observed Koch.
Overall the event was an enlightened discussion of the possibilities going forward and one that the attendant FinTech StartUp founders, bankers, investors, accelerators, and industry observers all appreciated.