Taken from the blog of Joe Casali, AAP, NCP, EVP, Payments Innovation, NEACH
One of the many changes the industry is currently experiencing is the move toward partnering with FinTechs for innovation. Recently, I found myself wondering what we could learn from New England FinTech leaders and how their perspectives could inform our decision-making on strategic partnerships going forward.
While developing our most recent white paper, “Partnering for Innovation: The New England FinTech Evolution,” we had the opportunity to sit down with leaders from New England accelerators and non-profits, who are shaping the New England FinTech community. Over the course of our conversations, we gained valuable insight into the opportunities inherent in FI/FinTech partnerships1.
Take for example, the FinTech Sandbox, a Boston-based nonprofit that drives global FinTech innovation and collaboration. The FinTech Sandbox produces the annual Boston FinTech Week which had 47 events and over 3,000 registrants in 2018, with the goal of providing networking and thought leadership discussions related to financial services and FinTech.
Sarah Biller, co-founder of the FinTech Sandbox, believes that Boston’s FinTech community is in a unique position to transform the finance industry and solve some of America’s most pressing financial challenges.
“We have the technologies, funding, and talent to address these critical issues as well as support from various incubators and other programs that help local FinTech firms thrive,” says Biller. “We are also at the center of emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.”
Jean Donnelly, executive director of the FinTech Sandbox, believes choosing the right partner is critical to success.
“Successful partnerships form around shared priorities for both sides,” says Donnelly.
Vasillos Roussos, managing director at the DCU FinTech Innovation Center, adds that he believes building the right foundation from the start is critical for success.
“Both organizations need to view each other as partners and understand each other’s north star,” says Roussos. “Being able to trust each other is also key to success. Trust comes from engagement, which helps create better engagement. That engagement ultimately leads to a better partnership, which can help overcome bumps in the road that can otherwise derail the relationship.”
Also crucial for success is buy-in from the financial institution, says Devon Sherman, program director of MassChallenge FinTech. Sherman believes buy-in at three levels is critical for success. First, when working with a FinTech startup, the support of senior executive management at the financial institution is nonnegotiable. Equally important is champion support. A champion, usually a senior person such as a vice president at the financial institution, maintains the resolve to keep moving things forward at the institution and works to establish a successful outcome. Finally, buy-in from the business unit sponsoring the work is critical to success. The business unit outlines goals and milestones, charts progress, and maintains an appetite for problem-solving. With these components in place, Sherman believes the likelihood of success is greater.
Education comes in many forms. Sometimes knowledge is gained through conferences and events; while at other times, insight is gained from conversations and relationships. NEACH’s 2019 Innovating Payments Conference, October 9-10, 2019, at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport offers both—structured learning through targeted presentations and opportunities for one-on-one conversations with industry thought leaders like these.
What have you learned from the FinTech community? What questions do you have for the FinTech leaders mentioned in this article and others like them?