"Relevance makes banks best friends in business" - interview with Conny Dorrestijn and Mark Hartley of BankiFi

Thursday 31 October 2019 11:38 CET | Editor: Oana Ifrim | Interview

Moving from a great customer experience to a relevant customer experience is crucial and that is what Open Banking facilitates

Based out of the UK and the Netherlands, BankiFi offers financial institutions solutions technology to enable their business customer with the right Business Banking solutions at every stage of life, throughout their entire journey. The company offers a native cloud managed services scenario with user subscription whereby the bank subscribes to a set of micro services of their choice: invoicing, accounting, payments, nudges, lending, virtual accounts, cash management, etc.

What do you see as the main trends in banking?

Mark: I believe APIs are a huge trend – and not just the regulatory APIs, but the general realisation that the API enablement of banking services is very important for banks, specifically premium APIs (where banks can charge for the usage of the APIs).

Moreover, the global interest in using cloud technologies among financial institutions has experienced growth in recent years. Banks realise the benefits of the cloud, particularly when they look at collaboration with smaller companies who build services on the cloud platform.

Conny: The technologies surrounding cloud computing are becoming more mature. There are many reasons why banks are now looking to the cloud, but final acceptance still circles around two important banking paradigms: trust and regulation. The cloud is winning the vote though, it is simply inevitable for security (shared security is always stronger than going it alone) and scale, time to market and cost efficiency.

Research shows that the cloud is here to stay. The 2019 surveys from Flexera and Divvycloud indicate strong growth rates across large enterprises and SME.

What is BankiFi`s vision and mission?

Conny: Open Banking can transform the market for banking providers that serve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs, who are the backbone of our economy and, unfortunately, are hugely underserved by the traditional banks. Therefore, innovative thinking is needed in the market where SMEs and entrepreneurs with an appetite for Open Banking are currently underserved.

Banks can play a big role in helping the entrepreneurial part of our society. Worldwide, SMEs produce about USD 850 billion of annual revenue for banks, through deposits, lending, overdrafts, and payments. The global market is expected to grow by around 7% annually over the next seven years.

This makes SMEs a more attractive segment and the opportunity to better serve SMEs opens a new wave of newcomers with new customer-led propositions. It`s high time for banks to embrace the business customers in the way it should.

Mark: The data that a business operates on as we move away from cash and away from cheques and, moreover, the data that resides in your bank account or your bank accounts (if you`re multiply banked) is the same data that powers your accounting package, so why wouldn`t a bank offer a like for like service to their business customer that is offered by the accounting package vendors.  In a post open banking world this is where their biggest threat will come from as the accounting packages will be able to offer connectivity to multiple banks, potentially reducing the bank to be a dumb pipe. 

A traditional bank can do what new players have done in trying to take market share by simplifying the painful administrative things an SME does on a daily basis: invoice their customers, collect their money, pay their suppliers, do their accounting and keep on top of their tax returns. If banks want to continue to matter to SMEs, they must pay attention to what the customer wants and offer it all to them on a single plate. It’s now time for them to bite back – not let their business be eaten away by new apps and niche players.

Our goal is to help the bank compete by offering its customers the services that they need. All businesses need to do their accounting, they all need to get paid, they all need to send invoices out and so on – so why wouldn`t banks offer the same services as the new players in the marketplace? What we are trying to do is offer services through a banks that customers of those banks need to operate those businesses.

SME owners appreciate the financial insights that help them to manage their business. We believe the time is right and helping the entrepreneurs and small businesses is crucial, as they are vital to the success of the economy.

What banks can do to monetise their Open Banking infrastructure for business customers (SMEs) and bite back at the intruders by doing better?

Mark: First, we need to look at how a bank makes its money. The traditional way for banks to earn profits is by lending. 

We, at BankiFi, are both a payments and a lending facilitator; by offering services around these two segments, banks will be able to not only move away from having a very product-centric view of the world (where their first thought has always been which products can I sell to my customers) to understanding what the customer wants from them. Building services around payments generates better service, whilst at the same time allows the bank to sit in the supply chain and proactively identify lending opportunities.. So why doesn`t a bank send invoices on behalf of their customers? Why doesn`t a bank collect money on behalf of its customers? BankiFi enables traditional incumbent players to offer that to their existing client base. We can become the payments and lending facilitator by offering a wide set of services that customers need to operate their businesses.

Conny: Relevance makes banks best friends in business. Moving from a great customer experience to a relevant customer experience is crucial and that is what Open Banking facilitates.

In recent news, Nationwide has made an investment in BankiFi. Could you please elaborate on the initiative?

Mark: The investment is the latest deal from the Nationwide`s Venturing Fund set up a year ago, which is designed to create partnerships in which the Society and partners share knowledge and expertise. Nationwide is looking at delivering new capabilities for its business customers by exploring new services and technologies. Nationwide has announced its intention to launch an SME bank, an SME current account and, as a result, is now collaborating with BankiFi to make additional services available for business customers. This is an endorsement to what we`re saying with respect to the need for banks to offer more than just bank products to help customers.

Conny: BankiFi’s platform provides business account holders with a menu of services such as accounting, invoicing, payments, cash flow, VAT submission, lending, and banking services – from the bank or its pre-approved third-party providers through a single API. We support the idea that Open Banking should mean greater choice for business customers as well, and that they deserve financial and banking services that are wrapped around their daily lives. Banks and building societies can bundle our micro services into any bundle they or their customers might choose and offer it through their preferred channel. This experience is possible with the latest technology, through one bank cockpit without sending the customers off to meander through endless apps.

What are BankiFi`s plans and roadmap?

Mark: At BankiFi we will continue building up our micro services which can connect to banking services via application programming interfaces (APIs), including tax return, expense management, cash management. These are meaningful services for the customers.

Conny: We are looking into the large enterprise area, enterprise integration. On the longer roadmap, we are also looking into co-developing microbusiness services with large banks for specific customers.

About Conny Dorrestijn and Mark Hartley

Conny Dorrestijn is globally active in the fintech industry, as BankiFi’s Founding partner and in range of Advisory and non-executive roles in fintech, advisory and investment companies.

Mark is a renowned innovator and thought leader on Payments & Open Banking and Advisor to the Board of Nationwide Building Society.

About BankiFi

BankiFi supports financial institutions in the monetisation of their open banking infrastructure through micro business services which the bank can bundle into a relevant business accounting and banking offering. BankiFi supports financial institutions in the monetisation of their open banking infrastructure through micro business services which the bank can bundle into a relevant business accounting and banking offering.

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Keywords: interview, Conny Dorrestijn, Mark Hartley, BankiFi, Open Banking, invoicing, accounting, payments , nudges, lending, Virtual Accounts, cash management, cloud, APIs, banking, innovation, SMEs, fintech, technology
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech