Relationships: the currency of success in fintech

The collaboration between fintech and banks is the core of the financial revolution. Helene Andersson, Head of Customer Operations, explains how relationship building has been redefined in recent years.

min read

|

A2A (account-to-account) payments have seen major growth in the world of financial technology and in Europe, their potential is noteworthy. A report from Token and Open Banking Expo indicates that Open Banking payments are gaining traction across the UK and Europe, projected to reach $87 billion in transaction volume by 2026.

Partnerships are really at the core of A2A payments, as they’re built on existing bank infrastructure to facilitate the direct movement of funds between bank accounts. This means that A2A payment providers face the challenge of establishing relationships with banks, ideally covering all available banks in a specific country. 

Even though the importance of relationships might be undisputed, achieving them is another matter. How is it possible to manage the delicate relationship with banks, and how is technology reshaping the connection with traditional clients?

In this editorial, we investigate these questions with Helene Andersson, Head of Customer Operations, who shares her insights into why nurturing relationships could be the most significant investment for success.

The evolving landscape of fintech relationships

In the ever-changing world of fintech, relationships are fundamental. This was highlighted in a recent European study across Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The study found that fintechs do not always disrupt existing businesses radically; instead, they’re evolving to shape a new business ecosystem where traditional banks remain central. Fintechs primarily position themselves as partners to established businesses, offering technical solutions or innovative ideas often acquired by banks. 

Additionally, fintechs act as intermediaries between banks and customers, leveraging open banking solutions that utilize customer and account information from traditional banks. This dual role allows fintech companies to shape the market landscape by facilitating new services and enhancing customer access and choice.

Helene Andersson, Head of Customer Operations, confirms that building strong connections is essential for success: “Building relationships with banks, partners, and stakeholders remains crucial in the fast-changing world of fintech, where technology is always evolving.”

But how does this rapidly evolving industry affect the way relationships are built and maintained? “There is no universal standard, and the approach to building relationships and engaging with clients varies, depending on the industry and client type. For instance, banks traditionally used to adhere to strict protocols such as always preferring in-person meetings, yet this culture is gradually shifting.”

The nature of relationships and their management are evolving as fast as the industry, and technological advances are further reshaping everything.

Technological shifts: Redefining relationship building

Technology has reshaped how relationships are established and maintained.

Firstly, advancements in technology have facilitated universal access to resources and services, going beyond geographical limitations. In other words, setting up a meeting is always possible, no matter the distance, as long as connectivity is ensured.

Helene points out, “The way meetings happen has changed significantly because of technology. When I worked in banking in 2017, meeting clients digitally wasn’t a thing. The adoption of virtual meeting platforms – especially after the pandemic – has revolutionized how we engage professionally, breaking geographical barriers and enhancing inclusivity. To put it simply, there are no excuses not to meet, even with clients that are on the other side of the world.”

Secondly and more importantly, technology is rewriting the dynamics between the main players in the industry, banks and fintech companies. It’s not a surprise that the relationship between fintech companies and banks might be intricate. Accenture’s report highlights the predominant role of fintechs in commercial payments, as they swiftly introduce novel services at competitive rates. With the market slated to soar to $1.26 trillion in revenue by 2028, 55% of banks currently grapple with the formidable challenge posed by fintechs. Furthermore, a staggering 72% of banks acknowledge the arduous task of competing in vital sectors such as merchant acquiring services, payment cards, and cash management.

When asked how fintech companies can balance competing and collaborating with banks, Helene responded, “It’s hard to compete. Banks typically possess larger staff and extensive infrastructure. They also face strict regulations and usually lack flexibility. And while their financials are remarkably strong, that only goes so far when it comes to driving innovation. For fintechs, teaming up with or being bought by banks is often the best solution to make progress in the industry, combining their strengths for success.”

In navigating the challenges posed by fintech dominance, traditional banks are forced to reassess their strategies and adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape.

This brings us back to the main question: how do we build and manage relationships in this setting?

Prioritizing human connections

Helene’s answer is relatively simple: “As mentioned above, there’s no standard for managing client relationships. But maybe there’s a common denominator in the Swedish approach, especially when meeting clients from other Regions.”

Sweden is known for flat organizational structures at work. One way to look at it is that everyone is approachable, which probably stands out, especially when meeting partners and banks from other countries.

“Our strategy is to always form a solid team – both internally and externally. We sell relationships; it is our strongest USP. In the end, everyone wants a human connection and maybe have a laugh during a meeting.”

Conclusion

Building strong relationships with banks, partners, and stakeholders is crucial in the ever-evolving world of fintech.

Helene Andersson, Head of Customer Operations, highlighted that these connections are the bedrock of success, facilitating access to resources and collaboration opportunities. The collaboration between fintech companies and traditional banks is at the center of the current financial revolution, where technological innovations can enhance efficiency, accessibility, and security while meeting evolving consumer needs.

Francesca Portoso avatar