Better Banks webinar, Banking Circle
Banks Europe Event Analysis

Review: Banking Circle Webinar – Working Together for Better Banking

This webinar was hosted by Banking Circle, in the last week of February 2021. Under the tagline of “Working Together for Better Banking: Using the lessons of 2020 to future-proof banking for 2021 and beyond”, the discussion was aimed at exploring how banks can make payments more efficient, how this can be achieved by working with external providers, and how, ultimately, this can lead to a better overall customer experience.

David Birch, Author, Advisor & Commentator on Digital Financial Services at 15Mb Ltd and Consult Hyperion, took on the hosting duties at this event. He was joined by:

  • Mark Mcnulty, Head of Payments and Receivables EMEA, Citi
  • Jon Levine, Co-Head of Institutional Banking, Banking Circle
  • Juan Jiménez Zaballos, Head of Financial Industry Transformation, Santander Group
  • Becky Clements, Director, Payments, UK Finance

The motivation for exploring this topic in further depth came from a recent survey conducted by Banking Circle, where they interviewed 300+ C-suite executives across the UK and parts of Europe such as Benelux, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, to get an idea of the challenges Banks face, how they feel about the current situation, and the steps they are taking to break down the barriers, such as exploring new partnerships.

At the start of the webinar, David Birch pointed out that some parts of the survey were fairly obvious and unsurprising – banks’ frustrations with legacy IT infrastructure, and the amount of effort that’s going on compliance, for example. The interesting results that they received were when it came to the importance of payments, both inside and outside the retail sector, and the willingness to work with external partners, moving forward.

First up was Mark Mcnulty. He introduced himself whilst striking a positive tone, that businesses and banks alike can now see out the other side of the tunnel when it comes to COVID, and now the question is “what do we take in terms of lessons… the lessons that are going to transform our business going forward? And how do we go about executing those?” One of these lessons, Mark agrees, will be about partnerships, ”With the light at the end of the tunnel […] given the focus on partnership where we need to be much more agile than we’ve been in the past.”

During this webinar, Banking Circle hosted a couple of polls, to gauge the audience’s views, and to use as a starting point for further discussion. This led to an interesting finding that, within the banking industry, opinions seemed to be split on whether the prime focus should be on working with retail institutions or SMEs.

Juan Jiménez was able to shed more light on why this might be the case, pointing out that Santander has a strong focus on SMEs because “they represent, in the typical markets, more than 80% of GDP, and they are the first employment creator in every single country we operate in, and they do not have when you look at the products and services that they enjoy from banking.” He explained that the banking products and services that the SMEs utilise are not totally digital, especially when it comes to those who are working on a cross-border basis – and also that this focus from Santander is validated “when we compare notes with other banks and neobanks  who are [making the] jumping from B2C to B2B as well.”

Discussion also turned to the issue of payments, with both the results of Banking Circle’s survey, and the webinar audience poll agreeing that collaboration is going to be more of a central focus in the next stage of the banking evolutionary process. David & Jon Levine, in discussing this point, teased out the fact that the consensus seems to be that, whilst payments is an obvious place for partnerships to happen, banks are still figuring out how to effectively use this data, whilst maintaining full control over it. Jon explains that, for some banks, this is a problem worth solving, as “you can use certain payments data to offer other services to your clients, it’s very innovative.”

You can catch up on the webinar here.


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