Chris Gledhill is CEO and co-founder of Secco Bank, a new challenger bank in the UK. Prior to this, he was an innovation technologist in the Digital Innovation & Payments team at Lloyds Bank. This short interview took place at Sibos 2015 in Singapore.
Could you explain what prompted you to start Secco Bank?
Secco was born out of a frustration with UK challenger banks. Basically, we didn’t believe they were challenging much at all. With the other ‘new’ banks, you still get a balance, statement, card, and app. They look very much like the old banks, just with nicer UX. We saw there was an opportunity for banks to go full-stack, not just technically but conceptually – to reinvent banking starting from a blank sheet of paper.
What’s unique about Secco Bank, and how does it improve on the current breed of UK challenger banks?
In Secco, you can deposit money and data, meaning your value is measured not in monetary terms but includes things such as your knowledge, experience, education, connections, and so on. Your balance becomes your reputation and is disconnected from a ledger. With Secco, we’re not building a bank. We’re creating a platform to give everyone their own bank. You get your own vault for money and data, and how you use it is up to you.
Banks are working hard to set up innovation teams and improving their UX. Do you think this is going to help them with the customers of the future?
In the short-term, yes, this will help them. Right now, banks’ competition is other banks in their peer group, and they need to keep up with the latest UX trends and customer expectations. Also, good UX will aid financial inclusion. In the longer-term, banks need to assess their role and whether they need to be part of day-to-day life in the mind of a customer, or whether they become a utility.
Are you a believer in having all banking products under one umbrella, or a disaggregated approach to financial services?
There is much talk about ‘unbundling’ and ‘rebundling’ financial products. I think a product-centered view is incorrect – it should be contextual based on customer life stage, and automated as much as possible. In the near-term, customers tend to have products spread between banks, but with PSD2 and other aggregator initiatives, we’ll see a rise in PFM solutions providing an interface and aggregation layer on top of banks.
How will you ensure Secco Bank continues to use the innovation (for example, through newer fintech startups) available in the industry?
The Secco team is based in London, which is ground-zero for global fintech awesomeness! There is so much talent and innovation around London, which is perfect for our open innovation strategy. As much as possible, we like to share our vision and roadmap with the fintech community so that we can identify complementary fintech startups to work with.
To what extent will you open up your APIs?
Unlike the other banks that are looking to open up APIs, we’re going to give every Secco customer their own API called an IPI (Individual Programmable Interface). This means that the customer is in control of their money and data; they get to decide what to share and most importantly they get to realize the value of their own money and data.
How are you tackling the UK regulatory compliance process?
Secco is not yet a bank, and we’re in the early stages of our regulatory journey. The concepts in Secco are quite different to existing challenger banks and other FS businesses, and with our data-element we would like to involve other non-financial regulators such as the UK Information Commissioner. Luckily, in the UK, we have a progressive regulator that’s more open to disruptive innovation than their overseas counterparts.