The Shot Heard ‘Round the Banking World

  • Sam Maule
  • June 29, 2015
  • 7

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / NemosdadOne of the highlights of this year’s Next Bank USA conference  held June 16th in New York was the session titled “The Great Debate: Who will Rule Banking in the Future – Banks or FinTechs?”  Bank Innovation’s Phil Ryan summarized the session well in his recent post here. The panelists did an excellent job framing their arguments and I wasn’t able to write fast enough to capture all of the outstanding points/sound bites made during the debate.

Not surprisingly, Ron Shevlin from Cornerstone Advisors delivered the best zingers and most memorable quotes (what else would you expect from the Snarketing King). Two of my favorites were: his closing argument which he presented in rap; and the following clip, which Ron used as part of his opening argument:

“It is popular these days for many of you to quote “Silicon Valley is coming”. You all take that as an example that fintech is going to rule the world.  I do want to remind you that 250 years ago Paul Revere ran around warning everybody that the “British are coming.”  If I remember my history pretty well, it wasn’t the British that won that war and it isn’t going to be the fintechs that win this war.”

I have to call Ron to the carpet on this analogy.  Paul Revere worked for the revolutionary equivalent of a start-up. He belonged to a ragtag group of idealists with an insignificant war chest, very little industry experience, few team members and little infrastructure.  There was absolutely no way the American patriots should have been able to take on, let alone defeat the British.  But, as Ron noted, we all know how that played out.

If history could be rewritten, then King George would have declared “The Americans are coming” to the rest of the world.  Fast forward 250 years and it isn’t so much that “Silicon Valley is coming” but that “Silicon Valley is here.”  And just not Silicon Valley but Silicon Alley, Silicon Prairie, London, Hong Kong, Israel, Nairobi, etc. are all joining the ranks of the fintech (r)evolution.

The long-term effect of the American Revolutionary War parallels what I believe will happen with fintech and banking.  Over time the U.S. and Britain became strong allies and developed what is known as the “special relationship.” I believe, as do the panelists in Next Bank USA debate, that the banking ecosystem will thrive with growing the “special relationship” between banks and fintech.  Yes, not every bank will succeed in their digital endeavors, and we will see many banks fold up shop over the next few years.  And the same will hold true for fintech companies.  We will see a great many of them fail, be acquired by banks, or gobbled up by other tech companies.  Digital Darwinism will become the norm across the financial services ecosystem, and that is a good thing in my opinion.

Next Bank USA’s Great Debate asked “Who will rule banking in the future?”  But I don’t believe that’s the right question to ask. “Who will decide who rules banking in the future?” is the question more in line with my thinking, and that answer is simple enough: the consumer.  We’ve already seen the power of the consumer in the digital age and  the impact it has had on the business models for retail, auto, taxi, hotel, entertainment, and other industries.  To say that the power shift is coming to financial services is a gross understatement. It’s already here.

Sam Maule is Carlisle & Gallagher‘s Emerging Payments Practice Lead focusing on mobile payments, P2P, and cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter at @sammaule.

  Like This Post

7 thoughts on “The Shot Heard ‘Round the Banking World

  1. I think that FinTech is very important for banks to be able to improve the customer experience. I am not sure the “winning” is the right way to think about this. I believe that it will be a collaborative partnership between the techs and the banks. Each will do what they do best, with the techs pushing the envelope and the banks learning and buying the technology needed to survive. Using Ron’s quip and the historical idea: The British won all the early battles, but the Americans won the war; twice, (the second one was in 1812, when The Brits burned the capital) but while we lost battles, we won the war, and today, our cousins across the pond are our best friends. It might be best and most profitable for all if we focus on the latter, and cooperate for the good of our customers.

Leave a Reply