Aion Digital: 10 Things to Consider for Fintech Partnerships
Written by Faaiza Adil, Loyalty Product Manager Aion Digital
The Fintech space is seeing unprecedented expansion and the banking industry’s landscape is changing. As many company’s struggle to keep up, they are left unable to make it past the first stage of their business development lifecycle. As tech giants like Google, Amazon and Apple join the already competitive financial services, partnerships have become necessary to stay ahead. The stakes have never been higher for choosing the “right” technology partner to fit your strategies and drive that growth curve. Serial innovators, such as challenger banks, are also struggling to capitalize on new markets and revenue streams without strategic alliances.
So the question now is who? Who is this the perfect service provider, software vendor, or market leader that can be utilized for saving time and resources? More importantly, will they facilitate product line expansion or niche specialization, increasing the time to market while staying within budget? The answer is not that simple as deliverables required from each technology partner may differ greatly. However, there are some common criteria that can prove invaluable for evaluating different types of partner support.
To help FinTech’s, we have suggested the 10 best criteria for selecting potential partnerships to assist through various phases of their business lifecycle, including:
· New Technology
· Market Access
· Resource Channels
· Support & Maintenance
· Contingency & Risk Reduction
1. ‘Fit’ Your Digital Roadmap
Every fintech needs a clear strategic roadmap and must require the same from its partners. Partnerships begin by ensuring both companies’ strategies, missions, and values are aligned. Introductory documents like partnership prospectus, annual reports, and corporate profiles are imperative in laying out a collaborative vision. Companies must request these materials to verify that a potential partner meets their strategic objectives before beginning high-level negotiations or signing any contracts. This is the essential first step towards that viable partnership agreement with mutually beneficial terms and measurable growth targets. Alternatively, this could indicate that any collaboration together would prove short-term and resources are better spent investing in joint longevity elsewhere. That is why it is not a bad sign that most partnership discussions stop at this point.
2. Product Line Upgrade
Proven or state-of-the art technology is the first factor in creating a successful partnership for expansive product features with low operational costs and high speed to market. Undeniably, improving a company’s technology components or capabilities is the most frequent reason for forming a fintech partnership. Most establish their white label licensing or affiliate program’s early on knowing this is the industry standard for providing their software solution, technology stack, or capability upgrades. Hence, financial institutions and other technology firms need to be on the lookout for partners offering these practices. They allow a company to gain immediate access to extensible delivery timelines, pricing model options, and a structured integration process.
3. Risk Mitigation
Fintech partnerships are shared collaborations; the partners share expenses, responsibilities, but most of all, the risk. FinTech’s have a culture of risk acceptance within a fast moving and uncertain regulatory environment. Companies that enter risk sharing partnerships can go after bigger endeavors which are more likely to succeed than one entity bearing all the risk. In addition, a partner may enhance a company’s capabilities for risk monitoring and mitigation activities. Therefore, a partnership that includes a team dedicated to monitoring and managing risk portfolios can be a huge asset. The best partnerships will share risk in order to move forward towards shared resources and rewards.
4. Market Expansion
Many FinTech’s find it challenging to increase market access in order to sustain customer acquisition. A quick way to scale a business is through new customer channels though this option contains many barriers to entry. This is why partners with large market shares or different market segments are appealing targets for accessing an untapped customer base. Companies can immediately benefit from these new client networks by establishing referral terms within their partnering agreement. This is also a way of reaffirming customer loyalty and adding value to those providing market access, as their clients are monetizing new opportunities through them.
5. Intelligent Enhancements
AI and machine learning were outliers in the development of financial services but now act as market differentiators leading the hottest technology trends. Consequently, FinTech’s are discovering that AI enhancements, data analytics, and robot advisory can impact every key area of digital banking. Banks, credit unions, payment transaction providers, and others are rapidly adapting AI to optimize operations and inform decision making. Therefore, AI partners are becoming more and more desirable as they fill the growing technical gaps that companies need. These “intelligent” partnerships are revolutionizing financial services through reduced customer attrition, unmatched insights, and cybersecurity.
6. Leveraging Clients Data
FinTech’s retain a strong sales pipeline by examining their clients customer behavior clients. Clients are always competing to increase market share by capitalizing on every possible customer behaviors and aspirations. Sales leads and account managers should leverage these insights by procuring a list of digital vendors that offer these services. A fintech can utilize this insider knowledge to secure the perfect partner. As a Fintech, these partnerships not only meet your client demands before they go on the market, but also showcase your personal attention and flexible sales approach.
7. Innovation, Innovation, Innovation
Serial innovators and thought-leaders on technology trends are a valuable commodity for FinTech’s considering partnerships. Innovations can range from lending methods, payment initiations, big data, cryptocurrencies or more. These can provide the disruptive edge that a Fintech needs to survive in an overcrowded market making such partners highly sought-after. However, the most successful innovators are 3x more likely to advocate open and multiple, innovative collaborations which provide companies an ideal partnership opportunity. Therefore, following the latest trend-setters, new tech commentators and early adopters, will allow a company to identify disruptive players who are ready to join forces. New innovations may also come with higher risk but the payoff for successful and substantial disruption in financial services is well worth the investment.
8. Regulatory Relationships ❤
Financial regulation and compliance is creating uncertainty within the industry. As new technology entrants and innovators are accelerating the rewards, regulators are struggling to control the growth or surveil the risks. Heavily regulated data protection laws and financial governance are beginning to hold back FinTech’s looking to implement select digital features. For this reason, companies favor partners that actively engage with regulatory bodies and key industry decision makers. Innovation hubs, technology incubators, and regulatory sandboxes can identify partners that test and accelerate new digital initiatives in a legislative environment. These licensed partners can ensure FinTech’s develop their innovation and expertise for evolving digital lifestyle within compliance regulations and financial laws.
9. Security Planning
Data privacy and security practices to prevent breach and fraud are necessary with today’s financial technology environment. In the United States, the average total cost of a data breach is $3.86 million with an estimated 280 days required to safely contain the breach. For FinTech’s, it is imperative to conduct due diligence on security protocols while discussing the terms of a partnership agreement. This is standard practice to ensure a partner has preventative mechanisms and cybersecurity in place, along with any response plans. It is strongly advised that a company take no shortcuts in their security schemes, monitoring instruments, and contingency plans for worst case scenarios. Likewise, partners with comprehensive prevention, transparency and responsiveness are appealing prospects.
10. Branding & Reputation
A desirable brand can accelerate a fintech’s growth trajectory. These brands can be defined as a reputable market leader, a high standing governance model, or simply as the ‘top talent’ in their its respective expertise. Partnerships with an influential brand demonstrates a company’s viability to potential clients and investors. A leading brand referenced as a partnership can make the ultimate difference when bidding for a high-profile project. Partnering with an entity for brand recognition may take precedence to all other considerations as it offers a combination of the aforementioned criteria such as market access, customer security, and regulatory assurance.