Fintech represents ‘potentially fatal risk’ to retail banks, report says

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The Economist has released a new report from the publication’s Intelligence Unit, “Retail Banking: In tech we trust.” The report, sponsored by banking software provider Temenos, asserts that the digital revolution has moved from existential threat to potential survival strategy for the world’s retail banks.

According to a press release about the study and report, “fintech poses a potentially fatal risk and will be a severe test of banks’ IT systems and their ability to respond to rapid changes in customer expectations, short product development times and growing cyber risks.”

Key findings from the study:

  • Bankers expect that by 2020 the banking environment to be shaped strongly by technology and nontraditional competitors. They believe that retail banking will be fully automated (64 percent); and more money will flow via fintech firms than through traditional retail banks (57 percent).
  • The “scare scores” attached to changing customer behavior (22 percent), new entrants (26 percent) and new technology (24 percent) are significantly lower than in previous years; but still represent a considerable collective threat.
  • Apple Pay and its ilk (20 percent) and other nonfinancials (20 percent) may yet emerge to really upset the traditional banking sector. “Robo-advisors” could lure away more profitable wealthy (and not-so-wealthy) clients (17 percent), while P2P lenders attract dissatisfied borrowers and savers (21 percent).
  • With too-big-to-fail rules nearly complete, regulators now have time to cast an eye over consumer protection issues, with product design and transparency (24 percent) and fines and recompense orders (19 percent) still in play.
  • Bankers see three main areas that they must change in order to survive: adapting the role of the branch network (36 percent); getting the right talent (35 percent); and modernizing technology (31 percent).
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