The digital revolution has moved from existential threat to potential survival strategy for the world’s retail banks. For the first time in three years, the post-crisis regulatory squeeze no longer tops our retail banking trends. Banks may not like the renewed regulatory focus on know-your-client and suitability, but they now have a more pressing draw on their resources:
financial technology (fintech).
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s previous reports reflected a somewhat defensive attitude from incumbents about the rise of non-financial sector competitors. Times change quickly, however, and banks are risking their own existence if they choose to ignore the rise of smartphones and the proliferation of real-time, low-cost competitors.
The scale of disruption is unprecedented, across every market, every distribution channel and every single product line. Fintech poses a potentially fatal risk and will be a severe test of banks’ IT systems and their ability to respond to rapid changes in customer expectations, short product development times and growing cyber risks.