Banking Fintech

Fear and coding in Las Vegas

Fear and coding in Las Vegas. Main image: Kobby Dagan,
Written by JP Nicols

JP Nicols revisits the ever-present themes of leaders, learners and laggards around the subject of fintech and digital progress in banking.

Like so many of the fintech flock, I’m making my annual Fall migration to Las Vegas for the Money2020 conference. I’m looking ahead to what I hope to see there, which is how fintech is becoming more and more embedded into customer experiences and customer expectations, and how financial institutions are using fintech as a differentiator. The Capgemini/EFMA World Retail Banking Report surveyed 14,000 consumers worldwide and found that nearly two-thirds said they were the customer of at least one fintech company.

I’m also reflecting back on the other banking and fintech events that I’ve been to over the last couple of months: Finovate and Next Money in New York, Sibos in Geneva, BAI Beacon and the Fintech Stage in Chicago, and keynoting at three different banking conferences with groups from Massachusetts, Missouri, and half the country with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. Plus, scores of private meetings with bank and fintech executives along the way.

Besides a digital wallet full of frequent flyer miles and a backpack full of Hudson News and Cinnabon sales receipts for my accountant, the main thing I picked up on my travels is that my industry innovation maturity map of Leaders, learners and laggards is evolving, yet still valid.

Leaders, learners and laggards revisited

When I developed the maturity map a couple of years ago, I defined financial institutions that were innovation leaders as those that prioritise innovation as a necessary business activity, and support it top-down, bottom-up, inside-out and outside-in. At this stage of evolution, I’m seeing another difference from leaders. They also see fintech as a force for redefining business models and improving customer experience.

The small group of learners in the middle is growing bigger, as more banks are realising the need to keep up in this era of digital disruption. The same Capgemini/EFMA report also surveyed 140 industry executives around the world and found that 90% of banking executives believe that the pace of change is increasing the need to innovate, and 65.3% said they viewed fintech firms as potential partners.

I’ve talked with a lot of learners over the past few months, and they definitely see the potential for partnering with fintech firms, but they’re finding it challenging to see results quickly, partially because bankers and fintech entrepreneurs seem to come from different planets. They also continue to be challenged in finding the necessary internal resources and expertise, since many cannot afford dedicated, full-time innovation teams. Most are trying to make do with what I call ‘And-I’s’ – employees with the words “and innovation” tacked onto their existing job title and full-time job duties.

My original definition of laggards was primarily marked by ignorance; executive teams operating with tunnel vision around a narrow definition of competition limited to just their peer group of similar institutions. My recent experiences and conversations tell me that ignorance is now supplemented with an unhealthy dose of denial, as they begin to negotiate their own fintech grief cycle.

Laggards think they’re “partnering with fintechs” because they have a few technology vendors and a procurement process. They’re also much more likely to view fintech as merely opportunities to reduce costs, rather than the ability to drive better customer experiences.

Spotlight on Capital One

I’ll be talking to a lot of financial institutions and fintechs this week at Money2020, but I’ll be spending some extra time with some of the leaders at Capital One. In upcoming posts, I will interview Tom Poole, managing vice president of Mobile Commerce for Capital One, about mobile payments and integrated commerce, and Naveed Anwar, their managing vice president for platform, strategic integrations & community, about the “platformification” of banking, and how they’re working with fintechs.

I will also be recording these interviews for special episodes of Breaking Banks, the world’s first global fintech podcast. By the way, it was recently announced that Breaking Banks is now the number one business show on the VoiceAmerica network, with over 2.2 million total listeners in over 100 countries.

So follow along as I report this week from Money2020 in Las Vegas.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. JP would like to thank Capital One for sponsoring his posts and podcasts and for providing access to its team, but points out that all opinions expressed are still his alone. Main image: Kobby Dagan,

About the author

JP Nicols

JP Nicols has been internationally recognized as a leading voice for innovation, strategy and leadership, and his work has been featured in some of the industry’s top publications and conferences.A former senior bank executive, he is Managing Director of the FinTech Forge, and founder of the Bank Innovators Council which is now a part of Next Money, a global community committed to reinventing financial services through design, innovation and entrepreneurship.

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