I’ve been writing about banks needing to refresh core systems for years.
and I’m fed up with it. I’ve also been writing about the new business model of digital banking based upon apps, APIs and analytics for years, and I’m fed up with it.
We need to move on.
ANY bank that is still running on a platform built before 2000 is dead.
ANY bank that Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) is dead.
ANY bank that has not researched and internalized blockchain and AI is dead.
Well, maybe not, as I still cannot name a single bank that failed due to a flawed technology strategy, but I can point to the fact that banks who are tied to inflexible, closed systems are being targeted for acquisition. The acquirer does not want the bank. It wants their customers, and it has always been this way.
I guess the biggest challenge for a bank is how to be open, agile and lean. These are consulting words that I am not keen on, but they do make sense. The thing is: what do they really mean in context of the above?
An Open Bank is one that truly understands the terms embedded, ecosystem and platform. Again, these are words we bandy around, but what do they mean?
Embedded: created seamless and frictionless financial experiences for the customer.
Ecosystem: recognising the bank is just a small part of the cogs of the financial system and needs to partner with many others to make the customer’s embedded experience the best it can be.
Platform: moving the bank to the business model that is based on the network and truly digital at its heart.
What does this really mean? It means being able to make decisions same-day. It means access to decision-makers same day. It means implementation same-day. It basically means a same-day organisation.
I always remember listening to Risto Virkkala, CEO of ePassi, at our Nordic meeting five years ago https://thefinanser.com/2017/11/compelling-case-alipay-christmas.html/ saying that he got a decision to use their service with Alipay and went live six months later. His throw-away comment was that “this is about the time it took to usually get a meeting with a CxO at a bank”.
You cannot take decisions and have meetings in months and years. Agile means moving right now.
This is why lean is so important. You need direct access from the teams to the decision-makers. The old, monolith, waterfall organisation of a bank, where everything is tick-boxes and controls, fails in this world. That’s why you need a new organisational structure that is flattened and coach-counsel, not command-control.
If you work in a bank where the ability to get to the CEO involves seven layers of management or more, then you work in a bank that will fail. We need firms where a team can work same-day, and the only way to do that is to have an organisation that can get a decision same-day.
In other words, an open, agile and lean financial firm is a same-day firm. Near real-time, it can make decisions, change and implement same-day. If you cannot do that, then you’re not fit for 2022.