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The Lego Bank arrives

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Years ago (over fifteen to be exact), I talked about Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS). More than six years ago, I urged financial providers to become conductors and curators of the financial ecosystem. Now, we are in 2023, and there are a few examples of both structures in the fintech system, bearing in mind each structure is different. BaaS can be offered by companies like Solaris, Finastra and Marqeta, whilst curators of the financial ecosystem are few and far between. Either way, it’s all about building what I call the Lego Bank. 

The Lego Bank has thousands of pieces – or, if you prefer, processes – and historically banks have built all of the structure to manage those processes internally. Bearing in mind that most old style banks are better at dealing with risk, compliance, accounting and distribution through buildings with humans, this has been a challenge as, when those very same banks build software, they tend to do it quite averagely. That’s why 30,000 fintech start-ups have started up around the world in the last twenty years. Each one of these start-ups tend to start from scratch and build software that is more of an artform than just an internal development. They also tend to focus on just doing one thing brilliantly well with software, rather than trying to do thousands of things averagely.

The challenge with this is that, with so many start-ups, how do you sort out the wheat from the chaff? How do you identify a good start-up from a bad one? How do you identify a start-up that has dotted its I’s and crossed its T’s?

This is the due diligence which I encouraged banks to do years ago, as customers don’t want to build their own Lego Bank, even though they could. The problem for most customers is they want the services that Stripe, Klarna, Adyen and others can offer, but they don’t have the time or knowledge to do the due diligence on them. That’s why someone else has to and is why I talk about curation of the financial ecosystem.

A financial curator looks at the whole plug-and-play world of the financial ecosystem we have today and works out which companies are doing well. The financial curator performs the due diligence and then brings those companies to the customer. What is interesting is that I had not thought about the customer being a bank … until now.

Rather than a bank having to build one-to-one partnerships with 100 start-ups, what would happen if company did this for them? Well, that seems to be exactly what Monese has done with XYB.

They call this coreless banking and it delivers BaaS through a curated structure. It’s an interesting idea and has already been embraced by investors such as PayPal Ventures, HSBC, Augmentum and Kinnevik, whilst gaining a launch client in the form of Investec, an Anglo-South African international banking and wealth management group. In fact, using this curated ecosystem, Investec were able to develop a business current account  and launch it in less than twelve months.

I guess that’s why I was happy to provide a quote for the press release of Monese’s XYB launch:

“For almost fifteen years we have been talking about the development of Banking-as-a-Service, the Platform Economy and Ecosystems. The concepts are robust in financial services, but the challenge is how to curate this system. With thousands of companies creating financial innovation, how can you leverage and utilise them? What Monese with XYB has achieved is the curation of that system as a pre-emptive offer to turbo-charge banks into this environment. It's very innovative and admirable, and fits into my views of the curated economy, where firms work together to improve the processes and deliver the best customer experience.”


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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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