The post-COVID era of fintech will be defined by a renewed commitment to the customer experience – both digital and in-person. Add to this an eagerness to find and work with new partners, new markets, and new communities and you have a glimpse at what we saw in fintech’s future at FinovateEurope this month.
Among our demoing companies we saw innovators like Meniga that have developed solutions to help financial institutions better engage their increasingly climate-conscious customers. iProov, a multiple-time Best of Show winner, followed up a demonstration of its biometric authentication solution with a post-Demo Q&A conversation on how the technology is being applied in the fight against COVID-19. Finovate newcomer Cobase, which provides bank connectivity and treasury management solutions to corporates, shared insights into its decision to pivot toward also offering a white-label version of its platform to banks.
There was a moment, before COVID, when fintech’s perennial “Year of the Customer” declaration was in danger of becoming a bit of a cliche. Clearly, COVID turned that potential cliche into a real crisis in financial services as institutions were, due lockdowns and quarantines, literally cut off from their customers. Customer service strategies that had been perfectly appropriate – even innovative – a year ago, were obsolete in a matter of weeks.
How fintechs and financial services companies, internally, with their customers and members, and with each other, responded to this challenge was understandably the overarching theme of FinovateEurope. What we learned was that, in virtually every case, it was an embrace of both digital and human capital that enabled companies large and small to continue to serve their customers. And by taking advantage of a widening range of channels including voice and chatbot, and upgrading their capacity to effectively manage a higher volume and sophistication of digital transactions and activity, these institutions are well-positioned to outperform as the threat of the pandemic subsides.
A large part of this outperformance may well come from a renewed sense of the power of partnerships. The collaborations between financial institutions and fintechs to help facilitate relief funding to small businesses and individuals during the COVID crisis are not likely to be forgotten when the days of mask-wearing and social distancing are gone. And as the Meniga example shows, we should be equally observant to those heterodox partnerships; ones, for example, that add lifestyle offerings rather than just traditional financial solutions. As competition grows – including competition with Big Tech – these brand-redefining partnerships may become a more common response for fintechs and financial services companies, in Europe as well as in the rest of the world.
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And last but not least, congratulations to the winners of Best of Show for FinovateEurope 2021: Dbilia, Proptee, and Quantum Metric.