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It’s us and them

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It’s interesting how people interpret things. Many think it’s old banks versus new banks; branch versus app; physical versus digital; government currencies versus cryptocurrencies; and more. For me, it’s not versus though. It’s and.

We live in a world of transition where new and old banks work together well. My old bank does my boring old stuff; my new bank does my everyday living. I like access to a branch for complex discussions, rather than waiting on a phone for hours, and I like an app for a touch and swipe transaction. I rely on government currencies that are trusted and speculate on cryptocurrencies that aren’t trusted. You get the idea. It’s not versus; it’s and.

The reason this is important is that so many people assume it is us versus them. They believe there is a war going on here, whereas many old banks want to partner with new players and vice versa. It’s just that there is a mutual distrust and caution. Neither party trust the other party, and so they cannot partner, and yet they feel they must in certain areas, like payments. After all, it’s not versus; it’s and.

The reason for the us versus them view of the world is because digital is replacing physical. It is a revolution of structures, not an evolution. This revolution of structures can be seen from Amazon online replacing the Main Street shops; from shopping for travel deals across the internet rather than in a travel agent; the generation who YouTube and TikTok rather than watch the TV … you know all this. It means the old guard of store owners and media have been running scared for years. Now, it’s been the turn of financial institutions. But all of the old guard get it wrong. It’s not us versus them; it’s and.

It's us and them.

When you get this point, you start to think differently. For example, how could my boring old bank leverage buy now, pay later and APIs for merchant checkout online? How could my bank focus more upon SME lending and support? How could my banks app improve to the level of ease of use of this challenger bank?

If you’re running a bank, you should really be taking every emerging fintech trend and challenge yourself to see how you can embrace that trend internally, and whether you might need to partner with a third party fintech to make it happen.

If you’re running a fintech, you should be looking at every process banks run and see whether it could be done better with today’s tech, and then consider whether it is something a bank would buy from you. Interestingly, in this context, many fintechs become software providers to the traditional industry rather than competitors to it.

It's us and them.

The core point is that the natural wariness between those replacing old systems and structures, and the players in that space, has created this huge friction of opposites whereas, in reality, the field is open to all. We just need to consider what position we’re playing on that field.

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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