No coffee time for bankers - Part I

By accelerating digital transformation, the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the gap between the top and bottom companies on the power curve of economic profit. Competitive differentiation, more than ever, emerges from superior digital capabilities, technology endowment and agility.

To discuss this topical issue, KnowThyBrand Founder Giulia Lannucci welcomed to the ICT Spring FinTech Summit experts from renowned institutions and global companies.

Banks must embrace continuous innovation to stay in the race

Luxembourg for Finance CEO Nicolas Mackel started the ball rolling with the significant changes we have seen in banking since the onset of Covid – especially on sustainability with an increasing concern for health and safety, and ongoing discussions on greenwashing to strengthen the EU regulatory framework. Nicolas also reminded the financial and geopolitical consequences of the war in Ukraine before ending on a more positive note though: “The human rights factor will gain in importance. Firms and governments will have to pay much more attention to this, which in and of itself is a good thing.”

Next on stage, UBS Country Head Heinrich Baer, Mirabaud & Cie CEO Jeff Mouton and Galytix CEO & Co-Founder Raj Abrol for a roundtable moderated by ABBL Head of Innovation, Digital Banking and Payments Ananda Kautz. Although from different financial entities, all agreed that industry players should provide more “personalized, relevant and seamless” services to stay in the course. According to Jeff, one of the main challenges ahead in private banking is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in different key sectors such as AML and KYC, especially to improve efficiency and customer experience.

Potential investors could then dive into foreign FinTech ecosystems alongside Fintech Associations from Belgium, Romania, Japan and Singapore. This roundtable discussion, moderated by LHoFT Head of Partnerships and Ecosystem Development Alex Panican, was the opportunity to discover that despite their specifics – from different funding grants and sandboxes, to market opportunities – they all have the same thorn in the side: talent hiring. What if implementing FinTech programs, training and new university masters was the way to go?

CIOs on cloud nine

Cloud is more than a mere technology offering. For CIOs, it is a force elevating their roles to that of innovators and catalyzers of business growth, as reminded Advanzia Bank Chief Information Officer Romain Fettes and Microsoft Senior Financial Services Industry Executive & Banking Lead Martin Moeller. For Romain, achieving such a goal inevitably required a “radical shift to an API-first approach and cloud-native technologies”, having direct consequences on Advanzia products and services’ time to market.

More specifically on data, Head of the University of Luxembourg Finnovation Hub Dr Jean Hilger reminded that, as a global leading financial center, Luxembourg has a huge interest in finding a way of sharing sensitive information while maintaining confidentiality and data ownership – especially considering that “all customers facing operations will eventually shift from privately-owned banks to electronic platforms.” His presentation, entitled “No coffee time for bankers”, was actually the common thread of this morning’s FinTech Summit, highlighting the challenges that traditional financial services are facing to comply with the sustained pace of innovation, the change of customers’ behaviors and the evolution of a relevant legal framework.

The rise of crypto-assets and the Metaverse

Investors are overflowing with questions on cryptocurrencies and the Metaverse… But are they truly a natural step for banks? According to PwC Luxembourg Blockchain and Crypto-assets Leader Thomas Campione, traditional banks need to get up to speed, develop a new strategy, test the waters, focus on trust and rethink core competencies if they want to catch digital asset owners – especially considering that they are mainly young, wealthy and digitally savvy. “So, if banks do not offer access to crypto-assets, they run the risk of seeing a high percentage of the amount they deal with everyday completely wiped out. From that perspective, access to crypto-assets will undoubtedly become a new table stake”.

Not to mention that the upcoming regulation in the EU and the US could well reshuffle the cards and accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies and the Metaverse by traditional financial institutions.

Creative and strategic insights – followed by young and yet promising startups’ pitches (KPay Innovation and FINMAAL) – that will undoubtedly contribute to the FinTech evolution.