Is Banking’s ‘Uber’ Moment Coming?

SAN JOSE, Calif.– Has banking had its “Uber moment,” or is the industry still waiting?

This was one of the key questions debated by the fintech professionals attending Bank Innovation 2017, currently taking place here.

Uber, for the uninitiated few, sparked a worldwide shift in its industry after its founding. Since then, its reputation has had its ups and downs, but its influence is undeniable.

“Fintech is similar to social media 10 years ago,” said Ruth Polachek, CEO and co-founder of Fincheck, during a panel at Bank Innovation yesterday. “Each one of these changes didn’t start without a market leader–the same thing happened with smartphones. We are still yet to see an Uber or WhatsApp or Facebook of the fintech industry.”

While fintech has driven the banking world far forward, as Polachek notes, singling out one particular company as the “Facebook of fintech” is a challenge with no clear answer; the industry might not yet have experienced the event (or company) that will have such effects.

Of course, there are some who believe that this moment in banking already passed–and quite a while ago.

“There is an Uber of financial services–it’s Capital One, and they’ve been around [for some time],” said Daniel Kimerling, head of API banking and open platform for Silicon Valley Bank.

A company founded in 1988, well before the golden age of fintech–which began in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis–resting the laurels with Capital One might raise a few eyebrows. Yes, its data-driving marketing changed banking, but at this point it’s a rather traditional banking brand, and it does not exemplify 2017 technology, even if it does have a cool Alexa skill.

However, the company does boast online and mobile banking tools, including an app that is consistently ranked within App Annie’s top 20 finance apps, and has acquired several fintech startups, including Level Money and Paribus.

What Polachek is looking for is a startup that completely revolutionizes banking in ways that are unforeseen today. She calls it a “game-changer” startup. This might come in the form of deeper algorithmic banking or bot-driven “everything” banking — or something completely beyond current expectations.

What do you think? Has banking had its Uber moment?


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