The current period of digitalization is probably one which changes things most dramatically. It is very important to follow what is
currently happening and to react to this. So banks need to react very fast
because their competitors are FinTechs – i.e. Companies that are very fast,
that are very agile. What we increasingly see is a platform economy in which there’s basically a platform provider, often without any ownership into the assets
that are actually traded on the platform. Nonetheless, all these assets that are traded on the platform need
to be produced, and this is where banks play a very important role. The classical intermediation function might actually not be needed in a case where we can access each and everyone right away over online services and so on. So, therefore, banks have to think very carefully about what
is the additional value they create for borrowers and depositors alike. If we think of the bank as an entity in the middle, on the one hand, we have the depositors and, on the other hand, we have the borrowers. Then, we had depositors who gave the money to the bank and the bank gave money to the borrowers. Now, digitalization completely changes the picture. What used to be an intermediation
is now the disintermediation – by figuring out that, that all of a sudden, depositors can connect right away with borrowers. The question is, thus:
Why would the banks still be needed for this process? To give just a few examples: Depositors are
certainly very interested, in the first place, in safety. Second, it’s also very important for them to have liquidity. Third, they also want to have flexibility. For the borrowers, it is services that go beyond
the simple providing of money, such as advising and consulting on going abroad,
on taking on additional capital. Then, let’s call it renegotiation – meaning that whenever
the situation of the company changes, the bank actually can go into renegotiation with the
borrower to find new solutions and to adapt to those parts. And then, there’s also a very important part,
which is basically consulting in the broadest sense: to give information, to give advice on how to engage with
other countries, other companies, other business fields – so very closely following what this company is doing. So the key element is: Can the bank provide services to their customers
that go beyond what the customer can do on her own? The main challenge for banks – and maybe for many
of the industrial giants at this point of time – is to stay agile, to provide an entrepreneurial environment
in which students, but also employees can actually find the entrepreneurial spirit
they can also see in the startup scenes.

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