Next week I will be at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to discussing some of the key dynamics taking place in finance and fintech – if you will be there, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll be delighted to arrange a meeting.
Before the event, I have been thinking a lot about the finance industry and what we can expect to see in the future. I want to share some of my thoughts here.
The importance of Agile in the digital transformation initiatives of financial organizations
One of the key aspects that I’m looking forward to discussing is the importance of Agile development methodologies in helping banks and financial services companies with their digital transformation initiatives. Faced with increasing Fintech competition, financial services organizations have to change. What I’ve seen when working with clients, is that Agile development provides an excellent methodology to create the change that is needed to compete in this new world. It is no longer just a software methodology. But rather it provides the way for enterprises to create teams that have a much greater customer centricity than they had in the past. Agile helps organizations to become more nimble, more flexible, and responsiveness to customers, which is exactly what is required in this new FinTech dominated world.
New R&D teams help experiment with new technologies
In addition to implementing Agile development, we’re also seeing financial organizations creating new team structures. For example, they are creating dedicated teams to experiment with the latest technologies. We’re seeing this happen particularly amongst Belatrix’s clients, where we’re helping financial organizations put together research and development teams, and guiding them on their technical and business strategy. They can first pilot and then implement the latest technologies, from machine learning to augmented reality. Belatrix worked with one financial services organization to develop a mobile banking platform with functionality including an augmented reality map, so customers could easily find their nearest ATM using markers identified by their cell phone.
Tech giants will reinvent retail banking
Earlier this year, in a whitepaper published by Belatrix, we argued that one of the largest tech companies in the world, whether Facebook, Amazon, Google or Ant Financial, will soon become the largest retail bank in the world. As we stated in the report, these tech companies have the platform and the scale to upend retail banking. They already have a digital wallet which underlies the services that enable users to buy and sell on their platforms, such as Google Wallet and Amazon Payments. Facebook Messenger Pay is already available in the US. But there remains a question about what this bank will look like? An interesting point was raised by the fintech commentator, Chris Skinner, in that these Internet giants may not become a “bank” as we commonly think of one, but will offer banking products, such as loans. As he states “I don’t see the internet giants becoming banks. I expect them instead to reimagine banking and finance for the internet age, and deliver it as a frictionless digital service that doesn’t feel anything like banking as it is today”. This is a fair point, because these technology companies are fundamentally different from traditional banks. In particular they are different due to their emphasis on creating powerful customer experiences, underpinned by extensive customer and ethnographic research (just look at the research Facebook conducted to come up with its selection of 6 “reactions” or emojis, instead of a single “like” button).
As mentioned I’ll be at Money 20/20, so please stop by booth 738, and I’ll be delighted to chat about these topics and more.