In this week’s webinar brought to you by The Fintech Times, Mark Walker, editorial director, sits down with Corinna Lamberti, VP of Product at Chip, and Neri Tollardo, VP Strategy at Tinkoff, to discuss the evolution of challenger banks.
This webinar looks at the success of challenger banks that seek to address the difficulties of traditional bank accounts. From audience appeal (44% of Millennials and Gen-z’s have opened at least one bank account in the last 5 years) to a focus on user experience and the implementation of market places that harness open banking, the panel considers just why challengers are so successful and how public needs have changed their evolution, from open banking to the global pandemic.
To watch the webinar in full, click here.
The session started with the panellists introducing themselves. Corinna Lamberti introduced Chip saying “three years ago we set on a very exciting journey to build the best saving account in the world, and today we’ve come a really long way.” Chip use AI to understand how much people can save, then helping them put that away in order to achieve their goals. Tinkoff was introduced by Neri Tollardo as Russias leading financial and lifestyle ecosystem, as the third-largest bank in the country by the number of customers (over 13 million.)
The discussion began with Mark asking the panel to explore challenger banks and their evolution over time, specifically looking at the panellists’ banks, asking Corinna what the main idea surrounding Chip was at the beginning.
Corinna advised that, in the beginning, they were trying to address two key problems. “The first was that, traditionally, people have been saving towards empty buckets, and our mindset, in terms of our generation of millennials, is quite different from that. We’re saving to achieve specific goals or objectives, like buying a house or going on a holiday. So the initial idea behind Chip was to put some kind of meaning behind those empty buckets and help people save towards the specific objectives they set for themselves.
“The second thing was around interest rates. In the past, interest years have been going down, so we really wanted to help our users understand and find alternatives to the traditional savings accounts. We wanted to help them access the best returns all in one place so they could make the best decisions with their money.”
The same question was asked of Neri, where different to Chip, Tinkoff has been around for a very long time, founded in 2006, “before the word fintech was probably even coined.”
At the time, the banking sector in Russia was relatively underdeveloped and complex to navigate for the customer. “We had the idea of being the first completely branchless, and eventually fully digital, digital bank in the country,” said Neri.
“The idea was actually started from looking at what happened in the US and the credit card market. Credit card penetration in the US was around two or three cards per capita, whereas in Russia it was something like 0.2 or 0.1 cards per capita. This was obviously a huge opportunity not only to bring a new product to the market but to also do it in a very innovative way that was much more customer-centric.”
Mark further commented that both panellists companies were started with the goal of helping the customer – “I think that’s typical of the fintech industry, the customer is at the heart of all the developments rather than in the traditional banking system where clients and customers were kind of just along for the ride.”
The discussion moved on to discuss the regulation surrounding challenger banks, and the challenges they can face because of that. For Corinna, though regulation is something that Chip has definitely had to think about, working very closely with the FCA to make sure their products and services are completely regulated, in the long run, it wasn’t actually their biggest concern.”
“I wouldn’t say regulation has been the biggest challenge for us, the biggest hurdle on our side is actually gaining customer trust, especially after the 2008 financial crisis. It’s been really challenging to make sure that we could get users to trust us full with their life savings.”
Finally, the discussion came to a close with Mark asking the panellists what they thought the future of the challenger bank industry would be. Neri said: “I don’t want to sound dramatic, but for a lot of challenger banks it could be make or break. I think a lot of challenger banks and challenger fintechs have started with one use case, and they have realised that in order to grow and monetise you have to actually go into other businesses where you might be able to make money.
“I think not everybody is going to be capable of doing that, and I would argue that there are a few fintechs around the world that have already struggled. So I think you will really be able to discern which fintechs have the right culture, the right business models and the ability to build something that is beyond a pure on-product service.”