‘Rabobank’, ‘De Lage Landen’ (Insurer) and ‘MyOrder’ announced to partner with the Startup Bootcamp FinTech for the coming three years. Together with Mastercard and Lloyds Bank, Rabobank is the only Dutch bank participating in this European accelerator program to support startups in the Fintech to accelerate their business.
The bank wants to learn from and collaborate with participating startups. In an interview with Harrie Vollaard, Innovation Director at Rabobank, the necessity of this step and the opportunities that come with this participation in Startup Bootcamp Fintech have been discussed.
Despite credit crisis Fintech is growing
While the credit crisis left its mark in the financial sector, the ‘Financial Technology ‘ (Fintech) industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally. There are currently nearly 3,000 Fintech startups, in which USD 12.2 billion has been invested in the past years.
The industry has an annual growth of 15 percent. Moreover, the industry not only contains Fintech startups. Even international players such as Apple, Google (eg Google Wallet) , eBay (including PayPal) and Amazon (P2P payments) are part of the sector.
As a partner Rabobank keeps a finger on the pulse
In February of this year, the Rabobank Group joined the Startup Bootcamp Fintech as a partner. Rabobank is not only providing a financial contribution to the program, but also opens (and shares) their network for start-ups through mentoring, knowledge sharing and experience with the Fintech entrepreneurs.
Rabobank sees it as necessary to participate in such an accelerator program. “We see more and more startups in the financial sector. There is a growth of innovative companies that focus on payments, next generation financing, such as crowdfunding and bartering and all kinds of business-to -business solutions,” explains Harrie Vollaard. “For us it is important to know what is happening in the Fintech industry and we would like to have access to the eco-system in which startups and accelerators operate. Ultimately, we want to enter into collaborations with startups.”
Lloyds Bank, one of the other partners in Start Bootcamp Fintech also wants to share its network and knowledge with start ups. Commenting on Lloyds’ involvement in the accelerator in a statement, Alessandro Hatami, Director of Digital Payments and Innovation at the bank, said: “Through this partnership, we hope to help smaller fintech businesses get access to the expertise and funding they need in order to grow. We will work with Startupbootcamp to advise start ups on how to become more effective in working with large financial institutions, especially by providing insight on customers’ needs and expectations.”
Looking for next generation banking
Rabobank is going to focus on several innovations. Within Startup Bootcamp Fintech they are interested in next generation payments, next generation finance, big data, security & risk, social and personal finance and various platform solutions (business-to -business solutions such as e-invoicing and banking software).
“We would like to highlight new developments in the market; we might be able to apply them in our organization. We want to create customer value, increase employee productivity and cost- efficiency. Innovation helps us with that, “explains Harrie. “In addition, we are especially interested in new business models in the financial sector. The mobile payment solution Square is a good example of a new business model in the market. And also our own MyOrder SideKick (ed. : formerly known as Second Screen ) is a good example, where the transaction is a utility and SideKick the real added value for the customer and for us a new source of income.”
Regulatory changes, opportunity or threat?
According to Harrie, in the last five years, much has changed in terms of business models, “We see a lot of new business models based on new internet technology. That change has a huge impact on the banking system and will be accelerated by changes such as the proposals regarding Payment Account Access Services as part of the Payment Services Directive in the legislation. Under pressure from the European Commission this creates a level playing field for other players in the market (ed. : third party service providers). ”
On the question of whether this is an opportunity or a threat to Rabobank, Harrie replied : “If you wait long enough, it becomes a threat. The long-term hazard is that banks ultimately deliver commodity products and new market entrants fantastic value-added services on top of that. You see that sometimes happening already in the field of payments, but this can happen in the area of financing too.”
“The opportunity lies in the collaboration. As a bank, we can provide our client base and distribution channels and integrate these with the new services of startups. This creates ideal combinations. A good example of such a combination is the Spanish bank Santander and iZettle (eds: the European response to Square). With such cooperation you increase speed together. As established party it is much harder to change your direction” argues Harrie.
Mentoring as the basis of the partnership
As partner of the Startup Boot Camp Fintech, are you also going to coach startups? “The essence of the Startup Bootcamp is mentorship, thus guiding startups with money, knowledge and office space. By the way, these are not only contributions from banks, such as Rabobank , but also investors. ”
With the Fintech accelerator program Startup Bootcamp will start, unlike previously with other programs, to pay even more attention to the early spotting of ideas, by organizing so-called hackathons. During hackathon programmers, designers and project managers are going to work intensively on a certain topic (or problem) for a few days and devise solutions under pressure.
Corporate versus corporates
Harrie Vollaard is excited about the passion he experiences at the promoters of Fintech Startup Bootcamp and at the starting entrepreneurs. “It’s great to meet people with a passion and a drive. That’s sometimes different in the corporate world,” he must admit.
“Perhaps , Rabobank might have a more entrepreneurial culture in three years time as well, thanks to the Fintech Startup Bootcamp,” Harrie said with a wink . But more seriously: “We would like to have at least a few partnerships established with a number of startups in three years time. If we are able to achieve that, I’m a very happy partner of Startupbootcamp Fintech . In the long term, our participation might lead to a change of the strategy of the bank. The speedboats can see certain movements in which we should move our tanker around.”
This blog is written by my Dutch friend Pascal Spelier and is recently published on his (Dutch) personal blog Finno.