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February 22, 2016

Efma, Avanade, Microsoft Get Together for New Fintech Move

Financial technology (fintech) is one of those things many of us are already using and don't even realize it. A broad term that covers a lot of ground, fintech can be just about anything from an insurance company's Web portal to a mobile payment app. A new effort from Efma, Avanade and Microsoft, meanwhile, will offer up a powerful new fintech portal to help the fintech community connect to potential markets in banks and insurance firms.

The portal represents what's considered to be the first such instance of a platform that connects fintech makers to potential institutional users. As Efma's CEO Vincent Bastid noted, the platform offers a means to help fintech provide solutions to financial institutions' needs and demands. The platform allows fintech firms to fill out a simple form, available at no charge, to make an account with the portal and post currently-available solutions to it.

The profile also gives fintech firms the opportunity to show off collective chops, bring in some publicity, and network with the growing array of Efma member institutions, now number over 3,300 across 130 different countries. Some of the largest banks on Earth are already connected to the portal in some way; reports suggest BNP Paribas, La Caixa and Santander are all backers of the portal.

Microsoft's financial services director for the EMEA, Patrice Amann, offered comment: “Microsoft and its partners are empowering financial institutions to thrive in the digital age, and we are proud to be working with Efma and Avanade to support this initiative and connect the rapidly expanding fintech community with retail banks and insurance firms globally.”

It almost sounds like a Craigslist for fintech; with users able to offer up various solutions to see if anyone's interested, and those looking for a means to augment services and better distinguish themselves from the competition likewise able to do so. Some might call the banking industry a hopeless, antiquated wreck, and with mobile payments and blockchains and crowdfunding, it really is getting harder to see why a bank is really all that necessary any more to begin with. Sure, there are some legacy functions that banks still accomplish well—cashing a paper paycheck among these—but how long until direct deposit to a mobile payment system is the norm rather than the exception? For banks to keep up, they must offer the latest in technology to help make users' lives better; brick and mortar is suffering all over, and the nine-to-five bank branch is no different. Fintech can help improve that brick and mortar proposition, and make the whole thing better—and more resilient—as a result.

Technology changes whatever it touches, from retail to healthcare to even banking. Fintech's growth can be a huge help to banks...or it can replace banks. Just which will happen is up to the banks.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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