Banking Fintech

Why I believe banks may still win

Why I believe banks may still win. Image by Pretty Vectors, Shutterstock.com
Written by Duena Blomstrom

Duena Blomstrom reveals the thinking behind her decision to embrace new career opportunities, and tackle fintech revolution from new angles.

Some of you may have seen a bit about my leap back into 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’ve 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 to write the book. Having accomplished this (the methods that work to cause profound cultural change are defined and ready for a bigger consultancy to implement, and the book is nearly complete), and having finally arrived at the title I believe 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 a 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, which automatically makes them doers (a highly IQ-ed bunch of them at that!). Then their main offering is so pivotal and core to any bank’s DNA that have the courage to tackle big themes such as new business models, real transformation, and so on – this is built into every interaction Temenos has.

It’s a fintech success story in its own right. There’s 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 ‘startuppy’ in culture and fanatic about brand.

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

The “Why it rocks”

Cool as Temenos is, I jumped onboard because MarketPlace is a game-changer. It’s more than a cool idea one or two 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 creating opportunities for 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 fit 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 very 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!). It 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 also for 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 startups with exceptional products achieve 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 its 2,000 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 realise 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.

NEXT: Shaun Weston talks to Duena Blomstrom about emotional banking, cognitive dissonance and Temenos MarketPlace:

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Image by Pretty Vectors, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Duena Blomstrom

Duena Blomstrom is an independent digital banking consultant, an entrepreneur and VC, a mentor for Startupbootcamp and Techstars, an uncomfortably opinionated blogger, and a public speaker at industry events.

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