I have been travelling a good part of 2016 and have had the opportunity to hear many speakers and industry experts ponder this question. One of the most interesting answers I have seen to date on this question is a LinkedIn post by Sabrina Del Prete, Digital Transformation Director at Williams & Glyn /RBS. Digital transformation in banking – is it a mission impossible?

She states, “The key word in Digital Transformation is indeed “Transformation” and not “Digital”. Doing digital is fun, creative and rewarding – it’s a journey that you take with a light heart and a sense of optimism. Transforming a business in a sector that for hundreds of years has remained virtually unchanged, programmed for risk aversion and centred around products rather than clients is hard – cynicism and resilience are essential travel companions.”

As the CEO of Horizn, which has always been on the bank side of digital transformation, versus the “disrupting” fintech startups, I am always surprised by the focus on this question. Maybe it’s simply because there are no sides. Transformation can’t happen without collaboration. If you are on the side of transformation, you are indeed on both the banks and the fintech side. The digital age has no respect for borders and the movement of money will have no borders either. I would venture to say innovation and transformation have no borders. Just take a look at the giants, Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook. Emerging fintech companies and traditional financial institutions will eventually have no borders, as both players need each other to define and advance the new financial landscape.

Buildit2

Many consumers are adopting innovation faster than most banks.  Banks need to innovate, arguably faster than their customers are. Banks need to be innovating internally, partnering with fintechs and be focused on getting their digital innovation to market. Or more importantly, there needs to be a cultural of adoption for both the bank employees and their customers that could help propel and embrace innovation. In a world that becomes 100% more technology intelligent every 18 months, speed is of the essence. Marc Benioff (CEO of Salesforce) is very clear on this: “Speed is the new currency of business”

Digital transformation we know has the potential to change the role of today’s banks, and simultaneously help them create a better bank for the digital age. It is simply a time for action, partnerships and for collaboration. It is time for banks with their internal stakeholders and outside fintechs to partner collectively to build banks for the digital age.

For us at Horizn we also know that, “build it and they will come” is a myth.  We believe in the need for digital and cultural transformation, both for the bank employees and for the customers they serve. To dramatically accelerating market adoption of the banks digital transformation will mean getting employees and customers digitally fluent on all the digital innovation. The key elements of the Horizn platform are, to drive awareness, adoption and increase revenues by inciting employees and customers to learn the latest digital innovation. Fast!