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FinTech Leaders on the Future of Digital Banking [Interview Excerpts]

Learn about the thoughts and opinions of FinTech leaders on the future of digital banking, the next steps banks should take, and where millenials fit in.

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Last week, AppDynamics hosted an exclusive networking evening for Financial Services executives at SushiSamba in London. Over 70 tech leaders gathered to enjoy great views over the city (the weather was on our side), excellent food, and a panel discussion moderated by Shane Richmond, former tech editor for the Telegraph. We sat down with a few IT leaders from top financial service institutions, joined by our CEO David Wadhwani, who shared their thoughts on the current and future state of digital banking. 

Silicon Valley’izing’ Banking

Shane’s first question was about the concept of ‘Silicon Valley’izing’ Banking. Digital transformation, software is eating the world, every business is a digital business—we can’t open a magazine or browse a news article without coming across phrases like these. The question is, are consumers demanding digital or are innovators leading the pace of change?

The panel was in agreement—consumers are in the driver's seat. Customer expectations are changing, and the way they fundamentally want to engage with their bank is different. They want to do business how and when they want, and not be dictated by branch opening hours. For the Challenger Bank, it’s not about disruption for the sake of it. “All banks have the same problems but the capabilities to solve these problems have changed. Banks are taking different approaches but the end game is the same—making sure the customers can access their money when they want and how they want.”

One panelist specializing in investment banking explained that to keep pace with and drive innovation, they are developing labs around the world, bringing in FinTech organizations to potentially invest in but also learn from.

Changing the Mindset

With disruption comes change in technology, processes, and culture. Established banks are huge organizations who may have had employees work for them for upwards of 20 years, so changing the mindset of these employees is no small task.

Shane asked the panel what they considered to be their biggest barrier to change. One panelist focused in Retail Banking said it’s the culture. “It needs to be accepted that someone will emerge as the Uber in Financial Services.”

Our panelist specializing in investment banking also agreed that culture and communication presents the biggest challenge. “It takes a long time to get a new message through the Investment Bank because of the size of the company it is. It’s difficult to convince the organization to let go of thinking 24/7 about regulation and security, and more thinking about innovation. The labs [are] the beginning of leading that change.”

Winter is Coming

Lastly, Shane asked the panel, “What excites you most about the future of digital banking and what keeps you up at night?”

The sleep spoilers included the momentum of change and global social change. The warning that ‘Winter is Coming’ (Game of Thrones fans will absolutely understand) was used to sum up that greater change is always imminent and we don’t know what’s next...artificial intelligence and machine learning could be next to Uberize the market.

One panelist specializing in infrastructure services discussed the next generation of employees as both a potential challenge and a great opportunity. “Millennials are less likely to stay in a job for a long period of time. This means recruitment and retention is a top priority, but it brings massive opportunity for innovation and new ideas”.

The overall sentiment from our panel is one of optimism—with the clear message that organizations and individuals in all markets need to move faster, listen to their customers, focus on innovation, and embrace change. The Challenger Bank believes we’re only one percent complete on the digital journey. As a customer of a couple of banks, I’m excited to be along for the ride.

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Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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