2015 was the year that fintech hit the mainstream press, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down as 2016 gets underway. One of the most exciting developments in this space, particularly in the UK, has been the rise of the challenger bank. These fully regulated organisations are taking on the traditional banks at their own game, except they are doing it through providing great products and fully digital experiences.
We caught up with the CEO of one of the most exciting UK-based challenger banks, Tom Blomfield of Mondo, to get his thoughts about the changing world of banking.
What elements of financial technology will hit the mainstream in 2016?
I think 2016 will be a big year for new banks, especially in Europe. Whether it’s “neo-banks” like Number 26 or Monese, or fully regulated banks like Mondo, it seems like a move into the mainstream is likely.
Are you concerned about financial regulators stifling innovation in their pursuit of consumer protection?
It really varies depending on which regulator you’re dealing with. The UK’s regulators are fairly forward-thinking, especially in terms of authorising new retail banks. It’s much harder to get a new banking charter in the US, in comparison.
Sadly, regulators currently seem to be reacting against a decade of “financial conduct” scandals – compensation payments for PPI mis-selling reached £28 billion in the UK alone. Every time we talk to the regulator about doing things in a new or different way, it seems like they’re trying to figure out what the catch is, or how we might be ripping people off. They’re a naturally skeptical bunch, but I guess that’s their job.
Ultimately, though, banking licences enable you to lend out other people’s money. It’s right that there’s a fair amount of prudence in their regulation.
How can challenger banks like Mondo persuade the average consumer to abandon their brick-and-mortar bank and sign up?
First of all, we make it really simple to try out an account. Deposit as little as £50 and see if you like the way the app works. It only takes a couple of minutes to open an account. Then you can spend time getting to know how Mondo words before you decide to take the plunge and switch accounts.
Second, we offer a product that’s truly differentiated. The feature-set and functionality really set Mondo apart from legacy banks. It’s banking that really makes you smile.
What is your vision for the future of the banking experience?
I see the future of banking as a “market place” or an app store. At the moment, legacy banks acquire customers when they’re very young and aim to sell them a number of financial products throughout their lives. Mortgages, credit cards, loans. But they’re very rarely the most attractive products available.
Instead, your bank should present you with a range of options and let you choose what’s best for you, based on price, customer service or convenience.
Tom is set to join us and speak at Future Bank Asia, running 20th-21st April at Suntec Convention Centre in Singapore. For more information and to book your place click here.