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Tink: What Makes a Good Bank-Fintech Partnership?

Bank and fintech partnerships are booming as the shift in the financial industry is taking everyone in the same direction — towards data mobility and digital-native solutions, both of which are enabled by the open banking ecosystem. Our 2020 open banking research shows that more financial institutions in Europe are partnering with fintechs and investing in use cases such as onboarding automation and financial management services, to streamline the customer journey and to make it more personal. Here Rafa Plantier, UK & Ireland Country Manager at Tink outlines what makes a good bank/fintech partnership.

It’s encouraging to see that almost a quarter of European financial institutions (22%) have already established at least one fintech partnership, with some having up to five. But the path to a successful partnership can be complicated and a successful outcome is not always guaranteed. Bringing a bank and a fintech together is a challenging operation and it is essential for fintechs to become proficient in navigating onboarding requirements and complex procurement processes that have been in place for years.

At Tink, we’ve been creating successful partnerships, gaining valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t. Based on our experience, here are our top tips for establishing a fruitful and enduring partnership:

A shared vision 

There must be clear understanding and agreement on what needs to be accomplished and when. For every deliverable, it must be clear to both parties what the challenges are and what is required. Each side must identify an internal point of contact to spearhead the initiative. These internal champions are a crucial factor when building a good partnership, as they are responsible for understanding the finer details of the partnership process and surfacing any potential problems and concerns on either side.

On the bank’s side, the internal contact must connect different departments of the bank. They must gain buy-in from management whilst managing their expectations; align departments around a unified message that can be communicated back to the fintech and escalate any issues as required. On the fintech’s side, the internal contact must learn and understand the complex processes of their partnered bank in order to successfully navigate complicated onboarding requirements and procurement processes that many larger banks have in place. They must also observe the bank’s interpretation of regulations such as PSD2.

A shared responsibility of internal contacts from both sides is to ensure that the project never becomes too big and unwieldy. Trying to achieve too much will invariably stifle progress and delay the project.

Having a new tech mindset

Partnerships between financial institutions and fintechs are invaluable. For big banks, access to emerging technology and innovative new ways of working could help boost their competitive edge and meet changing consumer needs. Our open banking research shows that banks have a clear thirst for adopting new banking technologies —  with 60% seeing IT modernisation as the biggest driver for open banking investments.

Fintechs can lead the way here, helping institutions move away from traditional legacy systems and get to grips with new and emerging technologies that will help them to remain competitive and meet new customer demands.

Take everyone with you 

Guiding relevant team members through processes, demonstrating how the technology works and clearly explaining the objectives of the partnership, will help provide clarity and guarantee buy-in to team members. Clear, ongoing communication between both sides of the partnership is key; internal discussions without the external partner present may cause decisions to be made without approval, which could jeopardise a project.

For a partnership to work at an optimum level, take the time to schedule regular catch-ups to talk everything through with your partner. This provides an opportunity for team members to ask and answer questions associated with the integration process, and a chance to discuss ideas with those responsible for the bank’s roadmap for the project.

Partnerships from a bank’s perspective

I’ve shared my tips on what makes a good partnership from a fintech’s point of view, but what are the key factors from a banker’s perspective? Rui Negrões Soares, Head of the Digital Bank department at Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) — and one of our partners here at Tink — shares his thoughts on what elements make the best bank-fintech relationship:

“In every relationship, the same key ingredients are needed: commitment, hard work and respect. It is imperative to remember that we are all part of the same team and share the same common goal – to bring the DABOX, a PFM app that aggregates information from every bank in Portugal, to market.

“It was essential to talk and listen to each other on a regular basis and to always keep our common goals and challenges in mind. We’ve always worked as one team and it was this commitment that led to our successful partnership with Tink. In less than six months, we went from contract negotiation to delivering the DABOX app – the first open banking app in Portugal. It wasn’t easy at the start as many Portugese banks were not entirely ready for this new ecosystem, but by the end of 2019, we reached our KPIs and our MVP was a success.”

The time to act is now

Over the last year, we have seen a significant rise in the number of financial institutions embracing partnerships with fintechs. In fact, our research revealed that 69% of financial institutions indicated that establishing a partnership will be a priority for them over the next 12 months.

The demand for better, more personalised digital experiences in the financial industry is growing at an astonishing rate. As the pandemic accelerates the shift toward digital channels, customers around the world are seeking intuitive, value-added banking experiences. Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, we expect to see even more banks and fintechs working side-by-side as partners to accelerate growth and realise the full benefits of open banking.




  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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