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Am I financial marmite?

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At a conference the other day, a banker came up to me and said “oh, you’re that fintech guy who throws rocks at us all the time”. A short while later, a fintech founder came up to me and said “oh, you’re the banking guy who thinks we will all fail”.

Interestingly, a short time later, another banker came up and gave me a big back slap, saying “I love the way you challenge us Chris, you really are an inspiration”; then a fintech founder grabbed me and asked if I could join their advisory board.

I guess I must be marmite: you either love it or hate it.

The thing is that I say it how I see it. The core issue for banks is that their executive teams are not technologists in general; the core issue for fintechs is that they have lost a lot of funding in the past year, and are struggling to pay bills.

That’s something.

And then I think about the things I return to all the time, and another friend said “Chris, you’ve said the same thing for years but it seems to have had zero impact. Is it because no one is listening?”

That’s a good question, and has some truth. In almost all of my books and writing reflections, I constantly come back to the same themes: bank leaders don’t understand digital; they are doing digital transformation wrong; they have huge challenges when most of the board and executive are focused upon risk and regulation rather than technological innovation.

Meanwhile, fintechs are doing great things focusing on micro processes in the industry or using the open banking ecosystem to create new business models. This is a challenge to the traditional players but it won’t kill them. It just challenges them to work out what’s going on, keep up and, if they feel it’s difficult, buy those innovators who are distressed due to their financial runway running out.

We’re seeing quite a lot of the latter recently, as it has been troubled times for many. That’s another slide in my pitch deck …

… it’s all about the timing.

It reminds me of the blog I wrote the other day about all the retail challenger banks launched in the 1990s that are not closing, and being bought by incumbent banks. The issue is that they launched banks that looked like incumbent banks, with stores and physical distribution. Fifteen years later, lots of new banks launched with platforms and systems. The new banks have millions of customer – nine million with Revolut and ninety million with NuBank. The model is different and is challenging; the old retail model that looked like old banks was not.

So yes, the world is changing and I may be Marmite in finance, but it’s nice to know that some bankers and some fintech founders love me.



Chris Skinner Author Avatar

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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