"Banks, don’t behave like the boiling frog. You won’t get out alive."

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A lack of understanding and of the will to change is often described through the story of the boiling frog. The frog is said to be unable to sense the increasing water temperature and will not search for a way out of his misery – leading to his inevitable death.

The fintech scene in Germany has been highly active during the past couple of years. Cologne is among the cities that prompt change in the industry and give birth to numerous new ideas year after year. The INNOVATIONSforBANKS 2017 congress gathered professionals from the finance industry to discuss problems and chances in innovation management. The associated Fintech Spacerace had nine startups compete against each other to define the most promising ideas.

Oliver Oster from OptioPay chose the parable of the boiling frog to depict that cooperation with fintechs can lead to solutions for decreasing margins and overwhelming costs – while remaining inactive will do harm to established businesses. Long gone are the times when emerging fintechs only aimed at landing a fatal blow at the troubled giants in the business. This message came across in most of the talks by the fintechs participating in the Fintech Spacerace, which was embedded into the two-day convention INNOVATIONSforBANKS. Nine young companies accepted the invitation by organizer BANKINGCLUB to take their chance in convincing the jury and the audience of their business cases during the pitches. The competition was framed by speeches by representatives of banks and service providers concerned with innovation management in financial services.

With Community Life and Clark, two insurtechs reached second place in the community voting. The former want to introduce life insurance to the digital world, as they are still entangled in inflexible structures and cannot meet the needs of a new generation of customers. Marc-Philipp Kern from Clark entered the stage with confidence, as their service secured a cooperation with ING-DiBa and also went live with PSD Bank Hannover lately. Clark describe their app as a mixture of robo advisor and personal consulting via chat and phone, resulting in a insurance-cockpit for customers. First place was secured by investment platform GIROMATCH. CEO Robin Buschmann described their process which checks off credit assessment and history, KYC and electronic signature within five minutes.

The jury was made up from representatives of banks, a fintech and a consulting/company-building venture. Their choice for second place were Finprove and GIROMATCH. During his presentation, Arne Westphal from Finprove emphasized that banks do have a treasure chest filled with lots and lots of data stored in their basement, but more often than not leave them unused. Their service detects points where the customer can save money through their online banking data and offers banks to profit from commissions when the users change providers. Contovista won first place in the competition. The Switzerland based startup works according to the data-driven banking principle and offers personal finance management (PFM), business finance manangement (BFM), data enrichment as well as analytics – all as white-label-solutions.

The event revealed the outstanding quality of ideas the young companies still produce after the fintech hype has been around for a while now. Obviously, both banks and fintechs have understood that a battle for customers and market share won’t help any of both parties. Those will be successful, who can make use of the customer base, the trust and tremendous expertise banks have together with the agile structures and fresh ideas of startups to generate new revenue streams and – above all – offer the customers outstanding services.

Image source: Ladd Greene, via unsplash.com