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Synergistic Opportunities for Banks and Fintech Companies

By Patrick Maes, CTO, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group


Patrick Maes, CTO, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group

A lot has been said about the relationship between banks and fintech start-ups. Many have implied an adversarial relationship or spoken of banks needing to take an acquisitive approach (via corporate ventures).

I have a different view on this. Firstly, I don’t think any bank in the world can call itself “fully digitised”. There are plenty of unsolved challenges such as full digital on-boarding, 100% availability of critical services, fully integrated omni-channel capabilities, end-point security, … challenges that cannot be solved by one bank or organization on its own and can often only be addressed by the industry as a whole.

Banks should build strong relationships with all parties in their ecosystem – existing vendors & partners, fintech start-ups and the bright minds in universities.The numbers of challenges to be addressed are numerous, there is no need for rivalry because the financial services pie is much bigger than start-ups often realise.

The solutions will inevitably originate along different and innovative paths and none should be discounted, meaning there is a lot of potential and value in connecting across the ecosystem. I would compare it with the gold rush in California and Victoria, this time it is happening in the digital space.

At ANZ, we are in the varying stages of building these relationships:

  • We are undertaking innovative projects with many universities across Asia Pacific.We have explored platforms for co-created apps with internal and external parties, advanced data visualisation techniques, usage of gamification in financial advice, advanced analytics, etc.
  • We are beginning to investing in fintech environments across the region includingenvironments in Australia and New Zealand among others.
  • We are beginning to engage with fintech start-ups themselves to explore possibilities.
  • We are undertaking collaborative events such as ‘blackthorns’ internally and externally.


One of the challenges we are working through is to understand how we can truly integrate with start-ups and other smaller organisations.

In my recent trip to Silicon Valley, I learned that there are now organisations specialised in providing advice on setting up corporate venture funds (CV versus VC). That makes no sense to me – if they were so good at VC, why would they bother to provide advice?

However, personally I don’t believe we should be setting up a corporate venture unit. Not so much from an investment perspective (everybody can throw money around), but more from a capability perspective i.e. the ability to guide start-ups through the multiple phases of growth, which is the critical skill of successful VCsas I discussed recently with Marc Andreessen.

Our main assets as a bankare our ability to provide reliable and secure services for our customers at scale, our experience and most of all trust. These are some of the assets we bring to any relationship, and especially to start-ups. They have unique cultures, IP and technology capability, and share our insatiable passion to solve problems. Combining both worlds in a collaboration model that allows all parties to share experience, experiment and grow successful businesses underpinned with sound and sustainable commercial models, will ultimately result in the best outcomes for our clients, communities and economies. That’s exactly why we getup each morning.

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