JAX Finance, 3-6 April 2017
The Conference for Technology in Finance

Technology not going with finance is like saying macaroni doesn’t go with cheese

David M. Brear, renowned speaker and one of the top FinTech influencers to follow in 2016, believes that banks can and should put the current technological innovations to good use. We talked to Mr Brear about the FinTech movement’s “disruptive” label and whether banks will "evolve or die."

In this interview, David M. Brear, the Chief Thinker at Think Different Group and one of the top FinTech influencers to follow in 2016, is talking about the inevitable clash between FinTech and the banking industry, banks’ next step and what happens if they miss the boat and not adopt new technologies.

JAXenter: Mobile banking is back in the spotlight as fraudsters recently pulled a £6,000 sting. Some claim that technology does not blend well with finance. Should we blame technology for these unfortunate events? 

David M. Brear: Frankly, no! Technology not going with finance is like saying macaroni doesn’t go with cheese. From earliest forms of physical money where people built in mechanisms for spotting fakes to today —where we try to use blockchain to rethink the sins of technology forefathers— Tech and Fin are completely intertwined. I’m a big believer (in the same way they say there is no such thing as bad children — just bad parents); I do not think the banks have a technology problem, they are just terrible at times at putting it into action. Technological innovations will be the heart and blood of the banking industry for many years to come and if big banks do not make the most of it, the new players from FinTech and large technology companies surely will.

JAXenter: Should banks be the ones to take the lead and ease the transformation towards the future and (inevitably) BaaP (Banking as a Platform)? Why? 

David M. Brear: I’d see this as a great way to maximize the opportunities that the banks have and the new players don’t in a significant community. Millions of customers make not only a BaaP play interesting from a partner’s perspective but also a sustainable (if they do it right!) advantage. I think the hardest part in this for them to get over is going to be the cultural barriers that such a shift in sharing and working will bring to make BaaP work. If I was a bank CEO right now I would be setting up a team of people to make this happen along with the traditional setup.

Technology not going with finance is like saying macaroni doesn’t go with cheese.

JAXenter: Do you believe the feud between traditional banks and FinTechs is real or is it just a stunt performed by one of them? 

David M. Brear: Yes, it’s real because lots of people are using FinTech players. The banks this year have tried to move the dialogue to one of collaboration rather than competition as I think anyone would try to switch the narrative in a losing PR battle. The big shift in 2016 really is that —I think— the current biggest battle is actually between more the traditional suppliers and FinTech than the Banks and FinTech. Companies entering markets and being able to provide services that the big companies cannot offer, or worse, the ones they can for significantly cheaper, has really had an impact on the industry this year and I think will be a trend that will continue on.

JAXenter: Is FinTech a global pandemic? 

David M. Brear: Without doubt it is, yes! £19.4 billion was invested in FinTech last year. It’s the cool cousin of banking that everyone wants to be involved in. I think we are at a real tipping point with it. We are seeing the excuses for banks providing poor customer experience losing credibility and in a market where technology players are providing personalized and contextualized experiences into the daily lives of all walks of life then how long can banks continue to underwhelm?

FinTech is the cool cousin of banking that everyone wants to be involved in.

JAXenter: Do you think the phrase “evolve or die” describes banks’ situation right now? 

David M. Brear: Sure. Evolution for me though is clearly optional. Not all banks are going to survive in the way that they have in the past. The thing about evolution is that it works one death at a time in the wild while in banking its really one retirement at a time. The cultural shifts required and the adoption of new and challenging technology is beyond where most comfort zones are.

JAXenter: Does FinTech still deserve the label “disruptive” or has it outshined this tag? 

David M. Brear: I think the term disruptive has been overused a lot in the last five years. If something isn’t being disrupted, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it? Bullshit! People like to attach silly title to things!

Thank you very much!

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