El InnoDay FinTech 2021 convened yesterday in La Nave (Madrid) by Foro ECOFIN, in collaboration with the Madrid City Council and the Madrid Capital FinTech (MAD FinTech) cluster, served as a catalyst for the dialogue opened in the last year within this cluster, which proposes collaboration between public and private entities, between banks and FinTech, between universities and technology companies, and between… (See the broadcast on YouTube).
Tras un año justo de cierres y confinamientos, la banca española volvió a ratificar su compromiso de cambio de la mano de las entidades FinTech que quieran participar con ellos en este proceso. And this was stated by entities such as Santander, CaixaBank, Unicaja Banco, Bankia o BBVA. And the latter three highlighted it, they communicated their web windows to present FinTech projects and even managers as disruptive as Ignacio Cea, director of Innovation at Bankia and the future CaixaBank-Bankia, publicly gave their email to attendees to receive these proposals for collaboration and FinTech alliances.
A year of work put to good use with this collaboration reflected in the InnoDay and in the mutual offer to intensify real relationships where the banks recounted examples of FinTech that already collaborate with them in their open banking, while FinTech companies such as Finizens exemplified this collaboration in banks such as Evo Banco or insurance companies such as Caser.
InnoDay FinTech 2021 was inaugurated by Miguel Ángel Redondo, Councillor for Economy, Innovation and Employment of Madrid City Council, who highlighted the financial and technological capital of the city: “Madrid has everything to attract talent, investment and entrepreneurship”, highlighting the role of the capital as “a driving force and European benchmark in digital transformation”.
New Banking, now or never’ report
The contextual framework for the debate emerged from the ‘…’ Report.New Banking, now or never‘, an exclusive interview with the digital consultancy firm Vector ITC (a Softtek Company) to present at this InnoDay FinTech 2021. Javier Agulló and Rafael Moreno, directors of Vector ITC, explained the three levers of change currently available to the banking sector – which is at a historic crossroads for change and sustainability – that others are not.
- The outsourcing of all those activities that do not represent a differential value compared to competitors.
- Advance the formula foralliances, mergers and acquisitions.
- Deepen the digitalisation of the business.
Javier Agulló, Commercial Director, insisted that “customers have changed their habits, they have gone digital”, which requires understanding where to go in order to respond to this challenge.
The moment calls for a banking transformation, which is why Rafael Moreno, director of Consultoría Estratégica, warned that “the financial sector is in a perfect storm” due to interest rates, the concentration process and changing customer behaviour. “Before there was only one traditional bank, now there are millions of platforms, neo-banks, FinTech… and that puts pressure on prices and costs”.
Moreno expressed concern thatbanking and FinTech partnershipsdo not always realise their full potential because of “a mismatch between what I think might happen and the reality between two cultures of two very different institutions”.
In this sense, he has advocated the approach to digitalisation by thinking about ‘what’ it is going to be used for, ‘how’ and under what ‘adoption process’. “Technology has always been the basis for change,” he explained, encouraging people to lose their fear of taking advantage of it.
Ainhoa Campo, directora global de Open Innovation de BBVA, spoke of the diverse model of collaboration: investment funds in San Francisco for FinTech entities or in Artificial Intelligence in China, acquisition and integration processes for service niches, open innovation proposals in several countries in America and Spain, to collaborate or internal structures for innovation, incubation, etc. “In the last two years, the maturity of FinTech and the internal culture of being interested in communicating with FinTech and working to make things happen has changed. “Digital transformation is not per se, it is for the customer, to make their life easier,” he said.
Ignacio Cea, director ejecutivo en Tecnología, Operaciones, Transformación Digital, Innovación y Ciberseguridad de Bankia, explained that they go out to look for startups from Insomnia and with recruitment programmes based on a faire play of collaboration without investment, but where a fund has already been set up with minority stakes in five FinTechs. Its methodology is to achieve in four weeks to finish the relationship processes. “Digitisation is a way of life”, a change of culture.
For its part, Israel Rodríguez Ponce, Director de Innovación, Alianzas Estratégicas y Open Banking deUnicaja Banco, explained that “we understand open innovation as a collaboration between equals to seek solutions and synergies that complement value propositions, because the objective is to provide value to the customer and generate wealth for the society in which we operate”. He added that the digitisation of SMEs and the self-employed is, for them, “giving them tools so that they can be competitive”.
The three executives have highly valued the recent approval of the Sandbox, which the Unicaja Banco executive considered “an opportunity for the country” that should be taken advantage of.
Jaime Galdeano, Director of Technology and Operations – Enterprise Mobility at Santander, in conversation with Luis Asensio, director of the Banking Sector at Vector ITC, added: “It is not pretentious to say that Spain leads technology in the financial sector, but sometimes we are a little shy or embarrassed to recognise the things that are done well in this country”. In addition, he stressed that “banking and FinTech are now in a phase of mutual understanding” because “the customer is the focus of a new product or one that we can improve”.
TopTen FinTech 2021
Then came the FinTech replica, represented by Aplazame, Bnext, Finizens, Housers, Imagin, October, Pleo, Qonto, SeniorsLeading and Woonivers; who presented, through a video, their main achievements during 2020 and their proposals for this year. The screening was followed by a debate on the mechanisms and reality of collaboration.
- Benjami Puigdevall, CEO of Imagin, born within CaixaBank, stressed that “we are at a particularly mature moment” in terms of collaboration.
- Raquel Garcés, CEO of Aplazame, recommended “having a framework” that lays the foundations for collaboration between FinTech and financial institutions. Although it is not always easy because of the difference in cultures and approaches, as highlighted by Carles Marcos, country manager Spain at Qonto, who acknowledged that, in his case, “collaboration with banks has been difficult”.
- Antonio Cantalapiedra, co-founder and CEO of Woonivers, stressed that banks “have a number of strategic aspects” in which they have to fit in as FinTech. “They don’t impose it on you, but if you’re not on the radar, you’re hardly going to be able to collaborate with them,” he explained. However, he highlighted the opportunities that still exist and that they are already taking advantage of with entities in Andorra for TaxFree. “Banks are looking for a cross-section of transactions to search for data, and FinTech can offer this.
- Luis Castillo, Founder and CEO of SeniorsLeading (Silver Money)He added that FinTechs “become customer prescribers for financial institutions” with these collaboration models, which also serve to bring financial services to new audiences, as SeniorsLeading does with seniors, in a model that, in reality, no longer has categories, as all those involved are at the same level.
- “The financial world is no longer just about banks,” said Grégoire de Lestapis, CEO of October Spain. But this needs to be owned by both parties, which is why Giorgio Semenzato, CEO of Finizens, pointed out two ingredients for a successful collaboration: alignment of interests and working philosophy. “Just as banks look for the right partner, FinTechs do the same” to ensure that the collaboration is successful, he said.
- In the debate it became clear that the basis for success will be to focus on the customer, who “wants everything done right and wants it done now”, as Aiyana Moorhead, country manager Spain at Pleo, put it.
- “The younger client does not want to buy anything, they want use and service,” said José Luis Marina, CDO of Housers, who warned of the “brutal disruption” that Google or Facebook could become banks.
InnoDay FinTech 2021 wanted to join Women’s Week with a panel that united the vision of the two sides of the Atlantic through two women leaders: Carmen Mª García, founding president of the Woman’s Week Foundation (FWW) and of MAD FinTech’s Gender Economy Commission, and Blanca Treviño, presidenta y CEO en Softtek.
The FWWW president denounced that “women continue to work longer hours than men and the wage gap is still an unresolved issue”. And she opened the debate on equity, empowerment and barriers to advancement with the Softtek executive, who began by talking about talent and explained that it “has no gender, nationality or sex preferences”.
As a board member of a major multinational, Blanca Treviño wanted to encourage girls and young women not to set limits for themselves. “Don’t waste time saying what you think will block you. Don’t put your future in anyone’s hands, don’t let them, and make a commitment to yourself,” she added.