Myths destroying: why big tech companies is not a threat to banks

The modern financial market is not only the world of innovative projects and high variability. As all complicated history period goes, the current financial agenda is filled with constant fears. The fears of the old over the new are replaced by the fears of yesterday’s new over something unusual, what has not yet received a conditional classification or label. For example, few years earlier, many US and UK banking experts often predicted fintech startups would “kill” old banks once and for all.

At the end of 2018 and now the fintech community is filled with threads, like «big tech makes startups and banks weak». Firstly, let me remind you: the term «big tech» means modern tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, etc. — many of them were startups, but they have become so massive and large that they create projects outside their sphere. Facebook and its products are developing money transfer, Amazon creates streaming platforms and wants give consumer and business loans, Google… does everything for everyone. Financial, human and technical capabilities allow big-tech companies to become a universal solution to all issues. And it scares people.

Speaking of fintech solutions: large technology companies don’t want to become banks. Why? Because the status of a bank is a big responsibility and high costs corporations don’t need. But offering the products that directly compete with banking, such as consumer loans and p2p money transfers — it’s much better. How many companies can compete in the number of audiences with Amazon or Instagram, am I right?

If we add to this a trend of distrust to banks and confidence in the constant “online” support of your favorite marketplace — you will suddenly get a serious reason for banks to be nervous. Here’s a good example: would you rather trust your money to the «Rozetka» or some of the old Ukrainian banks? Even if your choice is on the bank side, you’re already thinking about the options. The very fact of your doubt proves the process of transforming the financial system has been launched.

Sounds incredible? I have not shared with you interesting western insights for a long time. Take a look at analytics of Bain & Company consulting agency, which, among other interesting information, says about the preferences of bank customers. 54% of respondents trust at least one big technology company more than all banks. 29%of them trust at least one big tech company more than their main bank (the one with a deposit or a salary project).

It sounds scary — but only from the standpoint of the banking sector, which is good in its business, but doesn’t always understand, how IT-based companies work. An example of Western countries is advance payments for merchants on Amazon, which in 2017 were provided for $ 1 billion. It’s a bug thing, but not for Amazon-class company. If the conditions on the loan were more profitable than at the bank (and, most likely, it was so, I don’t have adequate statistics here), then a billion dollars is more likely a quarterly indicator, than an annual number. But here the big tech company hit an iron ceiling of its own capabilities. In other words, Amazon provides high-quality service of the marketplace in 24/7/365 mode, and this is their patrimony. They don’t earn on loans in the way banks do. However technically convenient it would be, financial and operational opportunities won’t be enough.

In addition, no business will want to deal with overdrafts, if they can avoid it. It’s difficult, requires resources that can be applied to a new product and earn money. In addition, customers would still not have a single account in the imaginary «Amazon Bank», and would use the services of competitors for any possible benefit to themselves.

As a result, it’s absolutely clear, as before, that neither ambitious fintech start-ups nor financial technologies «supernova» can do a threat to banks. As I wrote before, this is an opportunity for all parties to earn more. Coverage and confidence in big-tech companies can be an effective channel for the distribution for banking services: some profit from direct sales, others from intermediary services. And the customer receives a high-quality service.

CEO of the international payment system LEO, the shareholder of IBOX Bank