EBAday 2024: Success stories in collaboration

At EBAday 2024 in Lisbon, Finextra's own Niamh Curran moderated a lunchtime session titled ‘Rising Stars', with Luca Kotton, platform owner at Investec Bank; John Salter, chief customer officer at ClearBank; Jenny Winther, head of payment schemes at Handelsbanken; and Phoebe Zhou, head of emerging payments, GPS Europe at HSBC, discussing success and industry newcomers.

On the payments trends driving innovation, Kotton pointed to open banking as the standout. Zhou agreed, adding that open banking has been embedded across payments. She stated: “The transition focus now is moving from open banking to open finance. Looking at the UK government, it is considering how to build on top of open finance and open data, going beyond financial institutions and into key sectors such as utilities and transportation - which can feed into the ecosystem of daily life.”

Winther noted that cross-border payments are getting negative attention due to fraud and security concerns, and that is an area where fintech collaboration will be important.

On HSBC’s adoption of the SVB UK branch, Zhou highlighted how it wanted to continue to support the branch as it develops and stated that their innovations inspired them through the partnership, and allowed them to grow together.

Salter spoke from the perspective of a bank that started from scratch, pointing out that open application programming interface (API)s have changed the payments landscape. He added that clients are looking for certainty with their money.

Salter commented: “Banking has become gamified. Everyone wants to do something on a mobile app or over the phone, and it’s changed the way people operate. What we’ve started to see, certainly out of the UK, is regulators beginning to question who are going to be the winners and losers, as the market becomes more saturated.”

When asked about successful collaborations between fintechs and banks, Winther pointed out that there is collaboration and co-operation in the Nordic DNA. She explained that traditional banks and fintechs are able to balance each other out, with banks offering the security and trust that they have in customer relationships, and fintechs filling in gaps of technology and innovation.

She added: “We want to really collaborate. We want to have a real relationship. We want to know what you’re doing and how we do things better together. That’s what I see going forward.”

Kotton highlighted that having modular architecture is important to build technology stacks, and that continuous integration, constant development, cloud-based solutions, and automation are critical to be ready for new innovations:

“We don’t often talk about the hygiene elements. We all look at hygiene and know we have to do it, but keeping the systems up to date allows you to adapt with the technology as it comes along. API-first design is also key. It’s the only way that you can have seamless integration and adapt quickly. It’s easy once you’ve got an API-first design.”

When asked if speakers used AI to prepare for the panel, Kotton spoke about AI being used as a tool, but joked that he uses it for all and any birthday wishes. He continued: “I think we got to be careful of not getting lost in all of the technology and focus on your core centric customer values. It is also important to think about your staff and make them more proactive, allowing them to focus on the critical skill set that they were hired for in terms of really adding value from that perspective. We have to embrace innovation. It’s coming, there’s no pushing back, so we should all embrace it and have a positive attitude towards it.”

Winther agreed with Kotton that AI needs to be trained to be used in the right way, and Salter emphasised that AI will have a big role in keeping us safe, and will be essential in risk frameworks.

Moving onto the topic of growth and learning from each other, Zhou noted that people should be leveraging the opportunities offered by big companies to gain learning opportunities, and in general collaborate with other experts in the industry.

Salter agreed with Zhou, and added that fostering talent relies on company culture - not allocating blame. However, he said that balancing culture with time and profitability is tricky: "If you balance it well you will have space to be creative and innovate."

When asked about whether fintech and banks are moving away from competition and towards collaboration, Salter pointed out that there are more collaborative efforts at work, but it is not always a smooth journey. “There needs to be a mutual benefit that generally is based on a commercial basis because it’s important. If you have one person getting all the benefit and someone else getting very little - that is not sustainable.”

By on Wed, 19 Jun 2024 14:31:00 GMT
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