Bankathon 2017

Until today we have organised four Bankathons and it all started in April 2015. For the second half of 2017 we are planning another two events, in Amsterdam and Berlin. Additionally, there are more and more other FinTech hackathons which are mostly organised banks. This is quite a high selection for FinTech developers to choose from when he/she is considering attending a FinTech hackathon.

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XS2A: Access to Answers

Currently, Europe is being seen as the role model for Open Banking. Incumbents like banks are obliged to open up and provide access to the data of their customers. A trend which might have happened even without a regulatory requirement as well, but definitely a lot slower (yes even slower than the development of PSD2…). In the years after PSD2 it is likely that other financial accounts will be opened up by banks for third parties as well. But is connectivity to these financial accounts the only barrier which is avoiding innovation from happening in this industry? I believe that opening up is one step, but probably an even more important one is to increase quality of our financial data.

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Services I love to pay for

Today is a little off-topic, since I am writing about tools I use every day and not specifically about FinTech.

At the end of my studies I signed up for Xing (German version of LinkedIn) premium. As many other people in the same situation, this was a helpful tool to connect to others in order to find the right job since the basic version has lots of limitations. However, since then I am a premium member but advantages were rather little for me since usage of LinkedIn was anyway predominant. Now I have finally lapsed my subscription and feel quite happy not to pay the 90 EUR per year for a service I don’t actually use.

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Attraction of uncertainty?

Since 2013 I am reading FinTech news on a – more or less-  daily basis and tweet about it. Twitter was a good way to find new interesting articles but also discuss them with a diverse audience. The interest in FinTech started at the end of my studies when I was wondering if joining a bank is actually the only option with my background. Thanks to an internship at a VC & SumUp, an innovation / entrepreneurship focused MSc degree and finally joining figo – all of this has deepen my consumption of FinTech news.

When I was going through the news of the last weeks to find a topic to write a blog post about I couldn’t really find a relevant one. When I finally went to my tweets of this week I came to realisation: most of my reading activity during the last weeks was much more about Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies than “traditional FinTech” – which was usually the case. Blockchain has been part of my reading since a few years but was always just one topic of many and other topics such as Open Banking and APIs has been dominating. In the past weeks this has changed, which is why I have deleted a few FinTech sources in my Feedly and replaced them with Blockchain focused ones.

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Guess who’s back, back again…

One of the most important thing for being successful in anything from sports to learning a new skill: Consistency. Something I have been lacking a lot in this blog here. It has been more than two and a half months since I’ve published my last blog post. Last blog post in mid April and today is already beginning of July. So I have missed my own goal of one blog post per week pretty badly. That is something I cannot undo but aiming to become consistent again and live up to my self-set goal.

The reason for being so quiet? Many things from “being busy in life” to my honeymoon trip. And as so often missing the deadline once makes it a lot easier to do it again. And again. That’s why being consistent can be hard 😉   Continue reading

Feeding my bank account

I have just returned from a Easter weekend trip to Dublin and unlike in Berlin, paying by card was easily possible in most of the shops, bars or restaurants. Paying with card is definitely more convenient, however, my current main reason for using card instead of cash is adding data to my bank account. While using cash, details about my spending behaviour are lost but with card payment this data is saved and accessible later on.

At the moment the pure benefit of this is that my N26 app helps me to categorise my expenses and that I’ve a nice overview of my total expenses. However, our financial data becomes more accessible thanks to PSD2 and new services are making more and more use of this data. At the moment these services are mostly focused on recurring expenses in order to optimise contracts and help the user to save money, but it’s just a matter of time until new service providers will also offer services on our full “financial footprint”.
In order for this to happen it’s important that the holder of the financial data (e.g. bank) understands the true value of the data and treats it accordingly. Until today the value of financial data has not been exploited much and keeping “the record” was a requirement but not a business purpose. A good example for this is the monthly bulk credit card payments. I’m using a credit card issued by a travel company which helps me saving credit card fees while booking a flight. However, since the monthly sum gets deducted in one sum, the data from each single booking is gone. My N26 app cannot categorise these single payments correctly and my “financial footprint” is inaccurate. This is because no party involved had an interest to move the data but just the payment itself. There was no value in forwarding the data. Personally, I believe removing barriers all around handling and transmission of financial data will be an important post-PSD2 step so service providers can actually make use of our financial footprint and not just payment transactions.


To be continued…

Can you build MVPs in banking?

This week was time again for the EXEC conference. It is probably one of the biggest FinTech conferences in Germany and personally my favourite FinTech conference in Germany. This time a little different since it was first time in Berlin and not Frankfurt, and additionally, the conference covered not only FinTech but InsurTech as well.

What was the trending topic? Well, you could say “all the typical things” as known as PSD2, Open Banking, Identity, etc. On top of that there was one more topic that was touched in a couple of presentations and conversations: Building MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) in banking. Valentin from N26 and Peter from SolarisBank touched this topic in their presentations and my very own presentation was all about “Building MVPs in banking”.

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I love my data. Why does my bank not?

In a previous blog post I have already raised the question when we will finally see a “Spotify of Banking”: a provider of financial services that we don’t want to switch because the service knows us too well and thus creates positive entry barriers for other providers.

I know there are – especially in Germany – many people who don’t like the idea of sharing data. But if you take a look at different industries you can see that services that make use of consumers data is growing a lot, which is an indicator that more and more people are happy to trade their data in return for something.

But trade in for what? In my previous blog post I only talked vaguely about a banking service that makes better usage of financial data and provide a better service. I have taken a look into at some services that I am using that make use of my data and categorised them based on their benefits for me. Basically, there are two main benefits for me:

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Is multi-banking just account switching light?

Are you using multi-banking already? Trust me, your bank is very likely working on it and the feature will be advertised to you very soon. PSD2 and XS2A is forcing banks to open and provide access to it’s (untouched) holy grail – its customers data. As this is a big threat for most, but rather slow moving incumbents. However, making use of PSD2 and access data from its competitors is another story. Because that’s the way banks act.

Banking is known for its homogeneous landscape and most banks have more-or-less the same offering. Multi-banking is now another way for banks to attract customers from its traditional competitors. Implementing financial accounts from its competitors into own banking front-ends is aiming in the short-term for higher customer interactions. But in in long-term? I assume the goal for most banks is to do cross-selling of other financial products. Since these players are pretty homogenous nearly all banks will follow. This is the typical me-too strategy where one player copies a new service, feature or product from a competitor in order to not be less attractive for its customers. This is very common in banking, and is especially applicable, when the initial action from one player is clearly targeting at attracting customers from its competitors. Multi-banking can be seen as something like this.

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My #FinTech homescreen

“Lars, you are seeing so many new FinTech services every day. What is really your favourite FinTech service/app/solution/…?”

I have been asked this question quite often in the last few months. FinTech is spreading and new  services become available now on a more regular basis. In the old days, banks took months or years to plan, design and develop a new banking application and very often offered basically the same product in a new style. This is now changing due to new entrants in the financial service industry: services and especially apps are developed and released in much faster cycle. And these cycles will get even shorter and the attention for each and every new service will decrease on average – which is a good development.

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