Go inside the secret world of bank and fintech partnerships

Forming a bank and fintech partnership is a lot like dating. You meet, hit it off and decide you want to be together. But first you have to manage the challenges of bridging two totally different worlds. This is the full story of how we figured out that banks and fintechs can see the future in the same way (cue: heart emoji).

Building

About three years ago, nine bankers walked into Tink’s Stockholm office. They were in Sweden looking for potential partners – technology partners. Like most of our subsequent partnerships, the bank’s aim was to find a collaborator that could help them reduce their time to market when rolling out new tech. 

And so we met. In a conference room at our headquarters, the bankers spoke about their very clear goals for transforming mobile banking apps. We shared our vision for how people would manage their money in the future. They echoed it. And so, we discovered a major overlap between where we were heading, and what the bank wanted. In other words, we hit it off.

A shared vision

For us, this meeting was a symbol of where the entire banking industry would be heading. The bankers’ thinking was progressive, and they shared our desire to understand what customers want for the future – and to work out how to make it happen. For our part, we understood deeply how using financial data in the right way could totally change the customer experience. 

It was also clear that we could learn a lot from each other. Banks have the industry experience to see how our technology can drive their business – and the entire industry – into the future. And we could contribute by showing them a new way of working with and thinking about technology, and how to roll out products much faster. Being together just made sense.

The first hiccup on the road to bliss

In so many ways, banks and fintechs are from vastly different worlds. As a fintech, we are used to having total control over what we do, when we do it and how we work with our technology. We work in agile teams and continuously ship service updates. 

The banks have to meet heavy regulatory requirements, make plans that span quarters (not weeks), and are dealing with legacy tech that fewer and fewer people even have the knowledge to maintain.

We have to find a way to bridge our two different worlds, meeting all of their requirements for care and caution – and ours for speed and sophistication. This is usually the first big challenge. High-level discussions and visions of the future are the easy part. It’s finding creative ways to overcome the differences that’s the hard part. But it’s also where the rewards are. 

Making a commitment

After a few meetings, you can feel if there is mutual chemistry, and whether it’s going to be a good match. If it is, the bank makes a proposal, we enter an engagement and everyone is blissfully happy. But then it’s time for the ‘making it official’ phase to really kick off – to try and put a commercial agreement in place.

In part two, we dive into what we’ve learned when it comes to overcoming the core differences between a fintech and a bank, and how to take a blossoming relationship to the next level – navigating risk, compliance and regulation.

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