By: 22 April 2024

Fisher spoke to me about how technology is changing the way institutions work, and the ramifications this could have on the industry

Tina Fisher on the changing banking landscape

As traditional high street banks and digital challengers continue to try and win customers, there are myriad factors that need to be considered.

I spoke to Tina Fisher to get her views on how the landscape currently looks, the ways in which the traditional banks risk being left behind, and how regulation faces being changed in hindsight due to the speed of digital banking.

Tina is the current chief marketing officer at Intix, a platform that allows financial institutions to view transaction data in real-time. Prior to this, she was the former co-founder of SnapnSave, a cashback website that’s had great success in South Africa.

Tina, thank you so much for your time and for speaking to me today.

There’s a split in the UK between the traditional banks versus the challengers. Do you think that there’s almost a bit of fear in the traditional high street banks from these challenger banks? Do you think that the big traditional banks are having to take a much harder look in the mirror to attract consumers?

I think it’s very interesting. Why are digital banks growing? I think it’s largely a generational thing and it’s mostly centred around trust. When challenger banks first came to market, there were certain uncertainties about them. You can understand why some people didn’t rush to put all their money in these unknown entities before they’d had a chance to demonstrate their ability to manage money in a trustworthy manner.

Fast forward a few years, and people now have much more confidence in these providers. Individuals have either used these services, or have friends and family who have, so they know they’re safe. That increased trust has led to more customers and it’s a big reason why digital banks have seen such growth in recent years.

I think traditional banks should be considering the challengers and looking at how they can evolve their own services over time. If institutions are just offering a mechanism to save, and to hold on to your money, then it won’t be enough. But from my understanding, and from speaking to people, the traditional banks aren’t necessarily considering the challengers as competitors either.

I was reading an article Barclays published that said 93% of card transactions under £100 now are done with contactless on phones. With regards to the challenger banks, convenience is a huge thing. For example, Monzo is an app, it doesn’t have branches, but we all have smartphones, and we can’t really exist without them. Do you think that’s potentially part of it as well?

I think the answer is: it depends on the generation you come from. I read a similar study, which mentioned how Generation Z don’t carry physical wallets anymore, they rely on digital wallets stored on mobile devices. Compare that to the older generation, many of whom are still too cautious to use their phones to pay for things.

Obviously, they’re the two extreme ends of the spectrum, and the rest of us probably fall somewhere in between. However, as time goes on, it’s likely people are going to become more comfortable with everything being on your phone, which will remove the need to always carry a physical card.

Finally, whenever looking at trends in payments it’s important to acknowledge that geography still plays a big role. Different countries engage with payments in different ways, and there remain areas of the world where cash is still king.

I agree with the generational split, as you said. My parents both have online banking, but begrudgingly, and I think my dad has a mobile app that he doesn’t know how to use and doesn’t use.

And he would never tap his phone on something! Whereas my daughter doesn’t even have a card and has never had a card. We probably fall somewhere in the middle. Yes, I have cards, but I never use them. I don’t remember my PINs, even though sometimes you need them!

You’re the Chief Marketing Officer at Intix; do you think that ability to look at data in real time has influenced the way financial institutions work? 

It’s surprising how many major financial institutions aren’t optimised for tracking and making the most of digital transactions. I can think of one organisation, a top five global bank in the world, that is lagging with their digital transformation. Because of many legacy systems and internal IT builds, many banks and financial institutions are unable to see all their payments and transactions on one window, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of transaction data in the organisation. This effects many areas such as customer service levels, operational efficiencies, reliance on IT departments for example.

It’s fair to say there are varying levels of digital transformation happening within each organisation. It’s important to note, this isn’t just technical upgrades for the sake of technical upgrades. Losing track of transactions can lead to massive reputational hits for banks and financial institutions. Imagine you’re a company doing business banking and your bank informs you that it has lost track of a £5m payment, which you need urgently because you’ve got a shipment at the docks – that’s going to be a major dent in that relationship.

So, do you think that these institutions that don’t have access to this transactional data are at risk of being left behind?

They are definitely at a disadvantage. It can cause serious damage to their customer reputation, as well as leading to a loss of revenue. As a bank, you’re always going to have customers who can’t find their transactions, or who want to know the status of their transactions. Right now, some organisations are taking up-to seven days to source this information. That’s because the data is often buried and siloed across different systems. With the legacy systems that many banks have in place, the task is akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

By contrast, financial institutions and banks now have access to far more powerful platforms, like Intix, which work in a similar manner to search engines, like Google where you can index all of your transactions and payments on one platform. You put in a person’s name and how much the amount was, as well as the date, and all the similar queries pop up in a matter of seconds.

Do you think that some older, established banks aren’t seeing the potential impact these issues could have on their reputation?

Yes absolutely. The ability to see all of your transaction data in one place, predict issues before they arise and answer your customer queries within seconds not days, will most certainly have an impact. Similarly, as the volume of data increases, so do the regulations that banks must adhere to. A system that allows you to have all of your data at the click of a button will help your ability to report.

The stakes are higher than before. The regulators used to say, “give me the information I need about regulated transactions,” for example, “and give it to me in 30 days”. They’re now saying they want it in 24 hours. The banks can’t meet that requirement because data is stuck in all these different silos. As a result, they could get fined.

Is this something that you think will be built into regulation?

I think there are several different factors at play. For one, banking is changing. Just look at instant payments for example. Customers are demanding that payments are instantaneous rather than taking two or three days. But what does that mean? Well, the incidence of fraud could potentially go up because now payments aren’t going through older AML (anti-money laundering) and fraud systems, they’re just instant. It’s almost having to be retroactive.

So, then the regulations are changing to keep up with instant payments and ensuring that the banks can report on this in real-time for AML purposes. This is all happening very, very quickly and many of the banks are struggling to keep up with the times in terms of digital transformation. As such, they can’t meet these needs. So again, this is why something like Intix can really help.

Intix have recently partnered with Clearstream. How do you think that’s going to affect the financial landscape?

Clearstream is on a very big mandate to digitally transform their organisation. It’s part of their innovation push and so they, for example, have an organisational mandate of innovation. One of the systems they’ve chosen to use was Intix, to amalgamate all their transactions – thousands of transactions in a day – in one place so they’re easily accessible. 

I think it’s going to have a massive implication for their business. Already the use case is seeing a large decrease in incoming calls from customers, less time spent per call, less money spent per call, and increasing customer satisfaction. So, it’s already shown a big impact and that will likely grow further over time.

We also have a partnership with FIS, which means two fintech providers are working together to solve a problem within the financial services sector, which I think is fairly unique. Oftentimes you hear about client/provider partnerships or relationships, but this is two fintechs joining forces to solve problems together.

Which is really interesting; it’s two fintechs coming together to solve problems that affect fintechs, but again affect the traditional banks too. I wonder if traditional banks are almost resting on their laurels and wondering/hoping that the new kids on the block might actually solve the problems for them.

Daniel Besse, chief technology officer of Clearstream, said the reason that they chose Intix was not because we’re the biggest company, but because we’re deep experts in what we do. This is all that we do every day, day in and day out, so they had the assurance that we were experts and could meet their requirements.

There’s the argument that 10 years ago, institutions would be building everything themselves and then failing. Now they’ve started opening the doors to fintechs. They’re realising that sometimes it’s better to buy from the experts with deep industry knowledge.

Image: Tina Fisher

Robert Welbourn
Robert Welbourn is an experienced financial writer. He has worked for a number of high street banks and trading platforms. He's also a published author and freelance writer and editor.