Collaborate to innovate: the value of partnerships in times of crisis

The COVID-19 crisis brought about monumental changes, as banks had to reprioritize and adapt to changing regulation, to enable the free-flow of funds between Governments, small businesses and consumers. Whilst partnerships between banks, fintechs and other technology service providers have always been part of the fabric of the sector, the urgency of mitigating the financial impact of the virus accelerated the need to work together to find new solutions for global benefit. 

This collaborative approach has only increased since, with an industry shift towards understanding others’ expertise and utilising the resources of business leaders. At times of uncertainty even greater collaboration and openness are required, as well as a willingness to explore new ways of working that will best support the end customer. Partnerships between all players have been a crucial part of digital transformation journeys, helping banks to adapt to changing consumer expectations. 

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted great examples of banks using technology and partnerships to support customers. Seeing local small businesses hit hard, banks like DBS in Singapore, and Caixa Bank in Spain worked with partners in innovative ways to help businesses continue trading. DBS worked with startups to help cafes in Singapore go online during the lockdown, while Caixa Bank helped retailers continue to make sales using social media channels. 

These innovations have been facilitated by an evolution from banks to open themselves up to partnerships and collaboration. Banks recognise the agility and innovation fintechs bring to the table, with 70% of banks saying partnerships are important for business in 2023. This is up from two-thirds in 2022, demonstrating the continued focus on creating meaningful partnerships.  

The power of connected ecosystems and collaboration – at speed 

This question is an ongoing challenge as more businesses adopt hybrid or remote working models – how do you bring together the best talent, expertise and know-how when working with remote teams or partners that are based in different parts of the world? I would advocate an open, platform-based approach. This helps to ease collaboration and co-innovation so that new products and services can be delivered faster to end customers. 

Collaboration is a key part of our proposition at Smita Gupta Advisory, believing that delivering as a team goes beyond the scope of what each player could deliver alone, and creates value for all involved. It is clear to me that a transparent and collaborative approach between partners, with each playing to their key strengths can deliver something far beyond the sum of the individual constituent parts. 

My business model at Smita Gupta Advisory differs from consultancies or agencies that come in to deliver a project and complete the work. We work with clients to improve their processes, systems, talent and capabilities in order to continue to grow after we finish working together. I have also built out a Talent Vault that ensures clients benefit from expert help for whatever challenges they face. Businesses benefit from bringing on trusted advisors that specialise in high-priority areas, and the individuals or agencies receive another client or project.  

Leveraging third-party innovation and a platform for app development and monetisation 

There are many financial literacy apps coming to market from fintechs of all shapes and sizes. With the current cost of living crisis, every little helps with awareness of how to better save and budget. 

For example, Atlanta-based fintech, Monotto, has brought its app RoboSave to the market, which makes small automated, AI-based savings tailor-fit for each individual – helping people save money towards goals. Online bill pay services like Allied Bill Payment from Allied Payment Network are more critical than ever. And CRiskCo has launched its app, CRiskCo Approve, which will empower financial institutions to make faster decisions to provide loans to small and medium-sized businesses – vital at this time. 

Tangible outcomes for the benefit of the end customer, and the entire sector 

Partnerships and increased collaboration are good for all parties – from banks and fintechs, to other service providers, and individual developers. When executed well, partnerships help to: 

  • Create economies of scale across the ecosystem
  • Reduce monopolies and democratize collaboration for firms of all sizes
  • Create new growth opportunities and revenue models for everyone
  • Accelerate innovation and bring new products and services to market faster

Partnerships are also essential in helping us to bring our clients closer to their own end customers. 

Many banks are well on the way to adopting a more open and collaborative approach – and this is already delivering benefits to them in the way they innovate and deliver digital banking services to clients. 

Adopting such an approach and enabling ongoing collaboration across the ecosystem is more critical than ever today. We’re focused on helping all players achieve this. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you want to learn more.