April’s LendIt Fintech conference in San Francisco was all abuzz with excitement.
Attendees mixed with the leading lights of the fintech industry and discussed everything from how to open a bank and compete to the impact of blockchain and the digitization of key financial services.
And then some news filtered through that stopped everyone in their tracks: the new UK challenger bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, had reached 100,000 clients in less than one month after launching.
Hitting that milestone in such a short space of time was no mean feat, especially as Marcus only offers a single product, and it doesn’t even have a mobile app - something that’s a must-have in the modern age of digital banking.
But it’s not the only challenger bank posting such impressive numbers:
Meet the Contenders
- Revolut (UK) - 2 million clients in 5 years
- Monzo (UK) - 1 million in 2 years
- Monobank (Ukraine) - 500,000 in one year
And there are others coming up fast, such as N26, Atom, and Starling.
So, what do these newly successful and industry-changing banks have in common?
- A clear, engaging, and easy to navigate user interface and customer experience? Absolutely.
- A simple and straightforward product line? For sure.
- Terms that are easier to understand and more attractive than traditional banks? Yes.
- Freedom from clunky and outdated legacy systems? A huge bonus.
Yet, the one thing that unites each of these challengers is their commitment to providing a better level of service than their traditional counterparts. It really is that simple.
“Banks Don’t Like Banking Anymore”
It’s true. Consider how difficult it is to become a client of a traditional bank in the first place.
Think of the hoops you must jump through when applying to use one of their products; the paperwork you must complete, and the proof you require to show you’re an upstanding and reliable individual.
You can relocate to a new country and bring your beloved cat or your favourite chair, but you can’t bring your credit score. It’s archaic. And what do you get in return?
- Complicated products designed to catch you out, not help you.
- ROI that’s barely worth your attention, and certainly not worthy of your years of brand loyalty.
More interested in millionaires
Traditional banks are more interested in the middle-aged millionaire depositing funds than the student graduate just starting out and struggling to navigate this complex financial landscape.
This is why the challengers are seeing so much success.
They’re winning the battle for the hearts and minds of both millennials and mature customers alike, providing a better level of service and a more satisfying experience.
And there’s still so much scope for even more fintech disruption.
New and existing financial companies see banking products and services as a way to complement their core service ideas. Think lenders, wealth managers, insurance providers, FX traders, and more.
To compete, they need to seamlessly extend their offering, and the question they need to be asking is:
How do we build something that looks like a bank?
Financial Service Is Now a Commodity
Of course, it’s not as simple as deciding to start your own bank.
There are multiple factors to consider when embarking on such a complex challenge. The best place to start is by reading the New Bank Startup guide issued by the Bank of England.
However, the traditional route to building a new bank is time consuming, costly, and, despite all of the available support, incredibly draining. From a technical point of view, you would have to invest heavily in infrastructure (network, hardware, software), not to mention licensing, branding, and design.
In many cases, most of this isn’t necessary. If you look closely, most of the famous and successful challengers aren’t (technically speaking) banks.
You need to outsource
Consider the following: If you’re an established financial service provider, such as a lender or payments facilitator, investing in the infrastructure required to issue cards or enable check cashing would put a significant strain on your cash flow.
But what if you could outsource most of the important financial operations required from an existing and ever-expanding range of SAAS financial service providers?
Key financial products and services are becoming increasingly commoditized each and every day. You can shop around in this virtual marketplace and select a card management service provider, a loan management service provider, CRM, payments, FX, securities, investments; you name it.
The tricky part is selecting the right ones and integrating them effectively to present a workable end product to your clients.
Choosing the Right Tools to Start a Bank Business
And after working with clients around the world, choosing from a substantial range of service providers from most finance segments, we’re well placed to share some advice when it comes to selecting the right tools for your new fintech business.
The popular hints and tips are only a search away, so let’s not tread over old ground. Instead, here are some of the less obvious considerations you should take into account when selecting your provider:
1. Pay attention to integrations
Make sure that your customer verification, anti-money laundering, and onboarding processes satisfy all of the service providers you are planning to connect with. Often, individually, they support the necessary checks and are compliant with regulations. However, we’ve seen cases where the approach to ID verification might be different depending on the provider, which complicates or duplicates the onboarding process.
For example, for a regular card, an account or payment provider may require a single set of customer data, while a credit scoring provider may need an entirely different data set. It’s best to check this before you start to avoid any unnecessary complications.
2. Ask for a demo
Don’t forget to ask about a dedicated demo environment and documentation for each of the provider’s APIs. If you assume that a company you consider to be well known and respectable has them, you may be surprised to learn that many don’t. This can slow down the integration process and testing, resulting in delays and anxiety for all involved.
3. Put UX and UI front and centre
Don’t skip the UX/UI design stage. Expanding your business by adding a new product or service will impact how your users use your system. The user interface and user experience are fundamentally important to the success of your venture. You must also ensure the SAAS components fit together. There’s a possibility that your chosen service provider only delivers data in a certain format, which is difficult to work with when designing a new user experience.
Customer expectations have never been higher, so you can’t risk the reputation and success of your business on a UX/UI that simply “does the job”. Everything has to be flawless. A dedicated design team specialising in fintech could be the best hire you make.
Some Blocks Are Easier to Build with
LendIt was an outstanding showcase of some of the most exciting financial SAAS providers on the market today.
If you’re ready to choose the blocks to build your game changing banking service, here are some of our conference highlights:
A SAAS provider of customer accounts data insights, including categoriations and personal finance management. They can also act as a payment initiation provider.
You can user their services to allow a customer to interact with their accounts from multiple banking institutions directly within your app, making it convenient and easy to adopt.
A BAAS (Back-end as a Service) provider, delivering immediate access to the backbone of your apps. Handy if you’re a startup looking to launch your platform fast and with minimum considerations for legacy data.
There’s a high demand for savings and investment services done right, as demonstrated by the incredible success of the Marcus savings account.
Here are two providers you can count on to allow investment features in your app:
Allows your customers to start their wealth management journey by enabling investments in various stocks and securities.
If you’re aiming for a more dynamic and tech-savvy client, you might offer them an option of investing in tokenized property through STOs processed by Smartlands.
Learn how Metryus Can Help
If you’re ready to start your own bank, Metryus can put you on the path to success.
We’ve helped a number of fintech enterprises take their first steps towards becoming challengers, and we can help you too.
Simply fill in the form below and let’s talk.