My Bank offers me KYC as a service for fintech apps & my business

  Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019.  As the year comes to an end, I am reviewing how many Fintech apps I personally use. I have been asking other `Fintech experts` this same question, to gauge adoption. I invite our Fintech readers to share what Fintech services you use personally […]

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Mortgages for `Branch-Never` clients is the next re-bundling item  

`Allocating capital and managing the risk on the debt side of our personal balance sheet is larger, more complex, and determines whether we reach our goals or how far away do we end up. This is primarily where we all need advice (human, bionic, hybrid) in the first place, and subsequently in the investment segment of our finances`

This is an excerpt from a post I wrote nearly 3yrs ago The vertical integration of SoFi has the core entry point right! One of the points I was making is that offering mortgages first and then expanding into wealth management, is the way to go during this digital transformation and cannibalization of several financial products. Simply because the value add of advice on the debt side is significant and easier for the end customer to understand.

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer – No.3 influencer in the finance sector by Refinitiv Global Social Media 2019.

Since then, the digital mortgage market has evolved – US players like Roostify, Mojo mortgages, or ElliMae – and several partnerships have been established. For example, Ally Financial partnered recently with digital mortgage disruptor; or HSBC with Roostify.

Since then, the market reality is that several Fintechs in the investment part (e.g. robo-advisors) have cannibalized products and services, while increasing customer acquisition costs. As a result, they have been forced to expand their initial laser focused offering. Which brings me to the recent announcement of Wealthfront, the digital-only standalone robo-advisor, that plans to add mortgages to its offering.

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 10.20.06.png

Wealthfront started on the asset side of our personal finances and is now enriching its offering on the liability side. Sofi did the reverse. Wealthfront, however, has been analyzing data for its clients around home pricings and mortgages, as part of their saving goals towards mortgage down payments. So Wealthfront is not starting from zero. They see demand (they always have been) on customers that are `Branch-Nevers` as they call them.

At the same time, Varo Money the mobile-only banking app (with no banking license yet) has been offering unbeatable free checking and high-yield savings accounts, and plans also to add mortgages and more once they get a banking license. Both Sofi and Wealthfront have added cash and savings accounts.

What a mashed-up market!

From unbundling, integrating, then re-bundling and consolidating. Over and over again.

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Convergence as a trend in the re-bundling phase of financial services

There is ample evidence that 3 is a magic number. It dates back to the old times and is well captured in the Latin phrase[i] Omne Trium Perfectum  – everything that comes in 3s is perfect. I bring this up not only because I chose to provide three examples in my post today but also […]

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Blockchain for branding, as banks see little benefits – WEF reports

Image Source Is it a Golden bullet? or just a jewel? When I used to be a developer in banks, I used to get this question all the time – “do we have a golden bullet (tech) that can solve all our problems?”. The question used to be from very senior people in the bank […]

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How Emotional Banking can look like

Emotional bankingIt is Spring and officially in three days summer, so this is the time to open up and bring up topics like Emotional Banking. Several influencers have covered this topic – Chris Skinner, Brett King, Ron Shevlin – and Duena Blomstrom has been focused 100% on Emotional banking in her work and with her book `Emotional Banking : Fixing Culture, Leveraging FinTech, and Transforming Retail Banks into Brands`.

The core issue underpinning Emotional banking is the relationship we humans have with money. Undoubtedly not a simple one and clearly an emotional one.

When was the last time any of the three financial institutions you have relationships with, checked in with you as a person? The reality is that we each engage with at least three financial institutions but often with seven (consumer banking, business banking, wealth management, insurance, broker, etc) and the touch point is ONLY when and if we are ready to transact.

Sadly, most neobanks or challenger banks or Fintechs with banking services, are no different than the traditional financial institutions in that respect. And I am not referring to the fact that Revolut does remember my birthday whereas UBS doesn’t. I am referring to the fact that neither Revolut nor UBS, have any idea of what makes my heart beat, what would make me feel more secure, how I dream about the future, why I trained as a Kundalini Yoga teacher etc.

HOW Emotional banking looks like

Here is a concrete example of HOW Emotional banking can look like. Frost Bank is a 150-year-old Texas-based bank that started off as a small mercantile store and is now one of the 50 largest banks in the US. Frost bank has also been receiving the Greenwich Excellence award in the middle market and small banking category.

What caught my attention is their Optimism campaign called Opt for Optimism. They chose to link Optimism with financial health.

First, Frost Bank embarked on a research study about the link between Optimism and financial health. Here are some of their findings:

 Optimists experience 145 fewer days of financial stress per year

Optimists are 7x more likely to experience better financial health

They published their research in Mind over Money showing how attitude and mindset toward money impact financial health.

Screen Shot 2019-06-17 at 12.15.20

At the same time, they launched a campaign about Optimism through a 30 day challenge during which people can join in performing 30 acts of optimism. They also created a community sharing portal to inspire each other, explore the financial habits of optimists,  watch inspiring films the bank produced for the campaign and find out why Frost Bank cares about something like optimism in the first place.

Share in the comments other examples of HOW Emotional Banking looks like.

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

 I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post.

 Subscribe by email to join Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).

The 5 Banking commandments for your own Bezos moment

Dear Banks,

It only takes an internal memo to ignite your own Bezos moment.

Five clear and crystal commandments[1] (“good artists borrow, great artists steal”) that you can steal from Jeff B.:

  1. All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.
  2. Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.
  3. There will be no other form of inter-process communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.
  4. It doesn’t matter what technology they use. –(tech neutral)
  5. All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

Bezos ended his 2002 now famous mandate with a chilling little twist:

  • “Anyone who doesn’t do this will be fired.  Thank you; have a nice day!”

Just 17 years later, you can feel free – I would say you should feel inclined to do so – and steal this. You can end your internal memo with a kinder twist:

“Anyone who doesn’t do this will no longer be with the team.  Thank you; have a nice day!”

2019 in Finsev

I am using `Banking` to refer to financial institutions that have traditionally been in the business of serving retail, institutional, and corporate clients across all the spectrum of their needs. The Banking business model has been a PUSH operating model and the opaqueness and regulatory barriers to entry have allowed them to morph into a predominantly product business.

I am celebrating this month 4 yrs with Daily Fintech, during which I have been writing every single week on global innovations in Capital markets, wealth and Asset management[2].

I can safely say by now, that the only sustainable banking model is a PULL operating model that at its core becomes a platform as a service business. Much like Bezos transformed Amazon from a digital bookseller business, into a platform as a service.

For this to happen, the core transformation needed is in the `middle office` (conventional parlance) via APIs. Unless banks realize this, they will become suicidal and victims of a `lemming effect`. Their herd behavior to keep up with digitizing the `front office` to improve their customers` experience and even their engagement; will prove futile. The reason being, that as long as the culture remains that of selling products eventually; banks will find themselves in a commoditized business with margin going to zero.

`Any bank that does not transform its `middle office` via APIs; will become extinct. Thank you; have a nice day!”

 The good news about this transformation is that it has lots of possibilities and variations. But a bank has to start its platformification process, first internally.

Think first Private APIs that enable each and every department to access data and workflows in real time. Then, one can think of Public APIs, Partner APIs, and the Open Banking obligation or opportunity. Banking transformation needs to look more like 2/3 internal APIs in the first phase.



Chris Skinner and Jim Marous, have been preaching relentlessly about these issues. But it seems that it is difficult to convince `Doubting Thomas`[3]. There is no reliable data (to my knowledge) on this topic that is essential, despite the fact that it may seem a `detail`. The devil always hides in the details.


Over the past 3yrs, I have been monitoring the Financial APIs from the Programmable Web and there is clearly an increase. From 2016 to date, we have gone from 1700+ to 3800+ financial APIs. Of course, there is no quality differentiation or usage stats with this doubling. And none of these stats, are related to the paramount internal transformation measured by Private or Internal APIs, and their usage.

The one piece of evidence that I can share with you, is from Goldman Sachs. Marquee[4], is the GS sophisticated freemium platform for its institutional clients, which I have used as a great example of `Empowering Asset Owners and the Buy Side` WealthTech Book, 2018 Wiley.

Adam Korn, who has spearheaded the project of giving out Marquee for free, reported late last year that:

` After months of work, Marquee now fields more than 100 million API calls each month, about 5 million of which come from outside Goldman’s four walls. Marquee now has roughly 12,000 monthly active users, split evenly between internal and external clients. And the number of users is beginning to increase, according to Korn.`

[1] The API Manifesto Success Story


[3]doubting Thomas is a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience—a reference to the Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.

[4] Named in honor of CIO R. Martin Chavez, known by everyone as “Marty”.

Book one hour with Efi – Ask me anything (AMA) for 0.10BTC –

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

 I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post.

Subscribe by email to join the 25,000 other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).