World’s “first fintech bank” takes stock of 2016 and looks ahead to the coming year.
Fidor Bank, self styled as Europe’s original digital challenger bank, says that 2016 was the year that mainstream banks realised how short they’ve been falling in the field of innovation. Sophie Guibaud (pictured right), VP of European expansion at Fidor Bank, said that banks are “gobbling up small fintech startups faster than ever”.
Guibaud went on to point out that 25 per cent of global banks would buy a fintech company (citing a Business Insider article), while 60 per cent would partner with one. She said that this is “incredibly positive for both businesses and customers”.
But not all of her compatriots in the digital banking space would agree. Starling Bank, a digital only bank which is backed by $70m in pre-launch seed funding, published a report in September which forcefully argued that rising levels of mainstream bank collaboration is gradually eroding the core principles of fintech businesses.
“… It appears fintech has lost sight of its original purpose – to release the stranglehold of non-competitive banks over consumers,” wrote Guy Shone, CEO of Explain the Market, who co-authored the report.
Looking ahead, Fidor’s Guibaud thinks that corporate banking will come to the fore as the focus of fintech innovators in the coming year, with a particular focus on small and medium sized businesses.
“The UK is home to over five million SMEs, yet 85% of business current accounts (BCA) and almost 90% of business loans are provided by four providers currently, with just a 4% annual BCA switching rate,” she said.
Guibaud believes that incumbent banks tend to offer products that are better suited to large corporations, adding that fintech firms are “ideally placed” to offer real value to SMEs in 2017, allowing them to thrive in a challenging environment.
Fidor Bank was founded by Matthias Kroener in 2009, pioneering the “fintech bank” model. Like many of its more recently launched competitors in the digital banking sector, Fidor acts as a marketplace for its customers, providing access to a range of intelligently vetted financial services through strategic partnerships.
Fidor launched as a retail bank in the UK in September of last year, and plans to branch out into mainland Europe in the coming months. The firm already has more than 350,000 online community members spread across Germany and the UK, with a customer base of over 120,000.