Prajit Nanu of InstaReM: Why banks need to partner with fintech businesses
Prajit Nanu is the CEO at InstaReM, a digital cross border payments provider and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. InstaReM operates in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, The UK and USA. Here Nanu shares with us why banks need to partner with fintech companies.
Innovations in technology have revolutionised the financial industry, with fintech solutions being the biggest disruptors benefitting both consumers and businesses. With new digital financial services companies noticing a rise in customer interest, the demand for fintech has increased and now, the banks are eyeing a piece of the pie.
Some traditional banks have been trying to compete with fintechs by building departments in-house dedicated to technology in response to the growing competition. JP Morgan in 2016 is a good example of this, spending big on fintech solutions and building digital services in-house. However most recently, partnerships with fintechs have been banks’ preferred method of operation - with many ‘big’ banks collaborating with innovative digital-only partners to roll out packaged product offerings and solutions.
Partnerships are the best options for banks because they are shackled by their legacy cultures and infrastructures. Due to certain way of doing things for a long period of time, it’s often hard for banks to move out of their comfort zone and unlearn a legacy of decades. For banks to take innovation gambles, they need agile and flexible fintech firms – hence why, partnerships with fintechs have become a must.
Traditionally, banks are not wired to think like fintech companies, which won't benefit them in the long-term, especially in this age of prominent digitalisation. If a bank isn’t looking to incorporate and implement the latest technology, its customers will move to a competitor that is, making partnerships with fintechs are both essential and beneficial.
Benefit one - Simplicity
There are many benefits of partnering with a fintech company, simplicity being the first.
What makes partnerships simple is many fintech businesses operate on a plug-and-play technology, which means these can easily be plugged into bank’s existing systems. Because of this, we’re entering the API economy which can best be described as an exchange of value between digital providers and digital consumers. This will revolutionise banking even further with the efficiency and speed with which payments will be processed.
Benefit two - Flexibility
Many of the new digital players also operate on platform-based models. Platform infrastructure offers banks flexibility in the products that they can have built. In the past, products were rigid, banks were rigid, and, in a way, customers were trapped. Now, through partnerships with fintechs, businesses that operate on platforms, products can be much more tailored and reactive to align with customer needs in real-time. Money is now digital and fluid. Banks needs to be the same.
Benefit three- Speed.
We’re now in a time where speed and ease is everything. No matter what it is, where it is, we want simple access to it, and we want to consume it quickly. That’s ultimately what all financial services providers need to be deploying. Collaborating with fintech companies can enable banks offer the speed that consumers crave. What slows bank services down are the complexities that are in place due to their legacy infrastructure. Take data for example, with a traditional model, banks commonly produce a tremendous amount of data manually. However, fintech solutions offer payment services that process data automatically resulting in a faster service.
How PSD2 can help this work
Fintech companies must be transparent with potential partner banks and be clear on how they can add value to banks and their customers. Both sides have to consider themselves as partners and not competition. The upcoming second payment services directive (PSD2) will help encourage this. The new regulation will require traditional banks operating in the EU to provide third-parties with access to customer information and data that was previously only available to banks.
Essentially, PSD2 will increase the quality of services delivered to customers and offer transparency. Customers will have the opportunity to choose services that cater to their specific needs, which will encourage and make it easier for banks and fintech companies to work with each other and use each other's resources for mutual benefit.
It’s a no-brainer for banks to work closely with innovative fintech companies. At InstaReM, we work with banks based in Asia and Europe that recognise these benefits of the bank-fintech collaboration. Although, this collaboration model is challenging for both banks and fintechs to provide better services, it also gives both parties an opportunity to improve and learn from each other.
Start-ups receive $60 billion investment, smash 2020 record
Start-ups on the continent have raised a massive 43.8 billion euros ($60.9 billion) in just the first six months of 2021, according to figures from Dealroom, surpassing the record 38.5 billion euros invested last year..
This is despite the fact that the number of venture deals signed so far is around half the amount agreed in 2020. Only about 2,700 funding rounds have been raised so far this year, compared to 5,200 last year.
Prime examples in times of change
Examples are Swedish buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna which has raised more than $1.6 billion in two financing rounds, the German stock trading app Trade Republic received $900 million in May and British payments provider Checkout.com snapped up $450 million at the start of the year.
The figures suggest that European tech firms are pulling in far larger sums of money per investment than in previous years, which defies the economic uncertainty of the pandemic and boosted online services enormously.
The CEO of Checkout.com, Guillaume Pousaz, said start-ups have often been created in times of crisis, citing the emergence of several new financial technology companies in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
He added that big transformational change was often the time when there is the emergence of a lot of new start-ups, sometimes when people are losing their jobs for associated reasons.
UK leading the charge
Scale-Up Europe, a group that includes the founders of UiPath and Wise, proposed 21 recommendations to help the region build “the next generation of tech giants.” Among the suggestions are tax credits to corporates for investing in start-ups and regulatory changes that adapt to new innovations.
Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO of Klarna, said the U.K. leads Europe when it comes to tech policy, and that there were a number of regulatory issues needing to be addressed before the European Union can produce tech giants of its own.
Siemiatkowski highlighted EU regulation of web cookies as an example of “poor regulation.” Yet, as the number of $1 billion start-ups in Europe continues to grow, the number of exits in the continent is also increasing.
This year has already seen some notable acquisitions, including Etsy’s $1.6 billion purchase of U.K. fashion resale app Depop and JPMorgan’s takeover of London robo-advisor Nutmeg.
As for stock market listings, a number of notable debuts have taken place in London in particular, including food delivery app Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace and reviews site Trustpilot. Money transfer giant Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, plans to go public in the U.K. capital soon.