Collaborating Across The Atlantic

Finding common ground and leveraging each side’s strengths

by Molly Hoffmeyer

SixThirty’s FinTech Forum, hosted virtually on March 18 — almost exactly a year since the first lockdowns in the US & Europe — brought together leading investors, financial institutions and startups from both sides of the Atlantic. We discussed how the last year has impacted both incumbents and startups, and how that has impacted their opportunities and appetite for collaboration across the Atlantic.

Some key takeaways:

The global pandemic proved that proximity is not a limiting factor for collaboration. We can build relationships, make friends, and do business virtually, and still achieve a very positive outcome. While there is no substitute for in-person relationships (I think everyone is ready for business lunches to resume), the appetite and ability to collaborate virtually has increased, and the skill that we learned during the pandemic is here to stay.

Change is happening faster than ever, and this has created new opportunities for partnership and collaboration between startups and incumbents. For startups, early wins are critical. For incumbents, recognizing where a startup can plug into your processes, improve your capabilities, and provide you a strong ROI, in a world of rapid change creates opportunities to move more quickly and set yourself apart from the competition. For success, target this intersection.

Each member of the Forum brought a unique view to how COVID-19 impacted their business and view of collaboration. Check out the short snippets below to hear from them:

Where do the biggest opportunities lie in FinTech in the coming year?

Andreas Iten, SIX FinTech Ventures

ESG is a global problem, and one where startups and incumbents have to come together to solve the problem. The second from Europe is open banking, which we expect to become global over time.

Chuck Kim, Commerce Bank

Humanizing the digital business will be key going forward — it isn’t just digital, and it isn’t just in-person, but how the two can work together to create an ideal experience for the consumer. How to differentiate as a large company via relationships with FinTechs. There is so much opportunity for collaboration, to make the digital experience more human, and using those to help your brand stand out.

Carl Strempel, Imburse

We’ve been forced to be more open and honest with each other, in order to build strong relationships virtually. It is critical to get to know each other despite the virtual setting, even with a bit of awkwardness in the beginning, in order to drive trust in our relationships, and ultimately find success in partnerships.

For startups and corporates alike, what are the key drivers to gain success via collaborations on both sides of the Atlantic?

Sean Gilday, RGAx

First, think about finding success in the region that you’re in. Once you start to expand, the key is to share best practices from across the globe. Share what is happening, what is working, in unique markets to find opportunities to implement in other locations.

For startups, the key is to have a “successful” relationship from the beginning. Get your first in-production client as a proof point. Hit your goals, ROIs, and share that. The results will resonate in all markets that you’re targeting, and people will say “is this transferrable to my market” and give you the opportunity to show them that it will.

Pietro Carnivale, HITS

Shout your successes! One thing that COVID pushed around the world is that we proved that proximity doesn’t have to be a limiting factor for success.

How did COVID-19 change your priorities for investments & innovation?

Sean Gilday, RGAX, US View

Insurers’ expectations changed: cost savings, uptick in claims, efficiency; how do we remain connected with customers?

Expectations from PoCs or Pilots also changed: RoI and timelines- e.g. PoC came down from 18 months to 6 months.

Charles Kim, Commerce Bank, US View

Speed up digital solutions: e.g. account opening, workflows for fully-online processes for both consumers and businesses, ESG, improving payment solutions as well as wealth management.

Pietro Carnevale, Generali, HITS, EMEA View

Increased fear and uncertainty driving Life & Protection insurance, remote advice but via live, AI-supported agents, ESG.

Hala Zahran, Arab Bank, EMEA View

Customer needs changed: younger customers wanted to invest e.g. in crypto or gold, but safely with the bank. SMEs and mid-caps wanted help with FX hedging, and with making better decision given the changes in the stock market and FX. Unbanked segment also became important. The bank changed their mindset to work with startups to address some of these client demands.

Click here to view the full recording.

March 18, 2021 FinTech Forum On Tour panelists:

Anna-Marie Wascher — Founder & CEO, YvesBlue

Andreas Iten — Co-Founder, F10 / MD & Head, SIX FinTech Ventures

Boaz Yaari — Founder & CEO, Sharegain

Carl Strempel — Co-Founder, Imburse Payments

Charles Kim — CFO, Commerce Bank

Hala Zahran — Lead, AB Accelerator/ Arab Bank

Dr. Jana Dorband SelectUSA, U.S. Embassy Berlin

Meredith Moss — Founder, Finomial

Pietro Carnevale — CEO, House of Insurtech Switzerland / Generali

Sean Gilday — VP Strategic Partnerships, RGAx

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