Banks: Too large to fail, easy to Disrupt

“Senior banking executives are focusing on the impact that individual Fintechs or types of Fintechs will have on their organisations and industry but this narrow view means they’re at risk of missing the bigger picture. This article explores what could happen if Finch Start Ups began to bundle all their services together and shows how one move could alter the industry forever.”


In 2008 banks were considered to big to fail but seven years on it’s looking increasingly likely that they’re not too big to disrupt. Over the past number of months I’ve been speaking to the senior executives of many of Europe’s largest banks and while it’s clear that all of them see disruption happening on the margins none of them feel that their institutions are going to fall any time soon.

In todays digitally connected world I’m increasingly seeing that organisations that are blinkered by old 20th Century assumptions die by them.

Technology as a democratising force

Technology is having a democratising effect on Entrepreneurship – it’s lowered the bar to entry and it’s shifted the power away from the corporations and into the hands of the individual. Over the past three years the number of start ups registered around the world has shot up ten fold to over 100 million while the number of patents has increased six fold and it’s all because technology has simplified our ability to find new sources of funding, identify and engage with expert resources and rapidly produce then sell new products and services.

Over the past five years there have been 174 start ups like Airbnb, Beats, Box, Dropbox, FIS, GoPro, Jawbone, Nest, Palantir, Pintrest, Shazam, Spotify, SpaceX, Square, Tesla, Uber and Zillow that have hit multi billion dollar valuations and created new markets worth $1.5 Trillion.

A Swarm of Start Ups

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with a number of London Fintech’s in Canary Wharf and while there was a lot of discussion about how they could get their products and services adopted by the banks talk quickly turned to why they needed to be adopted by a bank at all. After all each of them represented a different piece of the financial services jigsaw puzzle and all that was missing was a convenient platform to bundle them all together under a single brand and in the age of digital, cloud, social and mobile that platform is easier than ever to create.

To use an analogy from nature, a single Bee is nothing more than an irritant but when they all join together and swarm the threat they pose can be deadly and the diagram below from CB Insights shows how, in this example HSBC could be disrupted if such a swarm did mass but why stop at the banks, using this simple ‘Bundling’ approach P&G and Unilever become targets too.


While many senior executives from many industries, not just financial services are assessing the impact that individual start ups might have on their business very few, if any of them are assessing the impact that they will have on an industry or an individual organisation if they all begin collaborating and bundling their products together. Perhaps the next generation organisations will be Start Up Integrators?

About the Author: Recognised in 2013 and 2014 by the public as one of Europe’s leading emerging technology and disruptive strategists Matthew Griffin works with Analysts, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Governments and global organisations to help them see, reveal and adapt to the impact that new technology driven trends and business models will have on culture, society and their business. Twitter me @mgriffin_uk or call me on +44 (0) 7957 456194.

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