Should Financial Services Firms Engage With Fintech Startups?

Oliwia Berdak

At least two dozen accelerators and incubators have been launched by financial services firms in the last two years. I believe that in five years’ time, most of these corporate accelerators will have disappeared. Why? A fully-fledged, multi-startup accelerator is expensive to run. The cost of searching, selecting, and providing seed investment and support for startups could easily reach $1 million a year.  Many accelerators aren’t focused enough on customer problems or business objectives to deliver return on that investment.

So why are so many banks, insurance, and wealth management firms eager to loosen their purse-strings? Some want to identify and co-opt future disruptors, others are looking to startups for innovation. There’s been a palpable change of tone in discussions of digital disruptors in retail financial services. The ubiquitous stories about voracious startups that want to eat incumbents’ lunch have been replaced by tales of successful collaboration. Financial technology startups deliver innovation, established firms bring customers, and together they live happily ever after.

Read more

Only Sophisticated And Innovative P2P Lending Platforms Will Survive In China

Zhi-Ying Ng

China is now the largest P2P lending market in the world. In just the first half of 2015, people exchanged RMB 300 billion ($47 billion) on more than 2,000 P2P lending platforms. As P2P lending in China reaches a tipping point, we expect many platforms to fail, and only sophisticated and innovative platforms will survive and thrive.

The “Q&A: Peer-To-Peer Lending Platforms In China” report takes an in-depth look at P2P lending platforms in China,  including the main players, key differences between Chinese P2P lending platforms and those in the UK and US, the problems that Chinese P2P lending marketplaces address, challenges P2P lending platforms face, as well as best practices in the P2P lending industry.

While the potential for P2P lending in China is huge, the challenges that lie ahead for these companies are significant. To succeed, P2P lending companies must overcome barriers related to the external environment that they operate in and the operational obstacles that their platform face such as:

  • Fraud. Widespread fraud and embezzlement in P2P lending tarnishes the entire industry, damaging well-run marketplaces as well as the immediate victims of fraud. Many of China's P2P lending platforms are not transparent, failing to disclose their revenues, expenses or fund allocation.
  • Regulation. In late December last year, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) published new draft rules calling for closer supervision of the P2P lending sector. Some of these regulations include establishing a third-party depository of customer funds, requiring P2P lending platforms to improve disclosure, and prohibiting platforms from building capital pools.
Read more

Global Payments Acquisition of Heartland Payments a Sign of Things to Come

Brendan Miller

Global Payments Announced on Tuesday that is planning to buy Heartland Payment Systems, a rival payment processor for $4.3 billion in cash and stock.  The two companies’ combined will be the 6th largest U.S. payment acquirer based on card purchase volume and the largest U.S acquirer based on active merchant locations (using March 2015 Nilson data to re-calculate the size of the new company).    

Global Payments gets Heartland’s direct sales force focused on selling to higher margin SMB merchants as well as new ISV and Reseller distribution relationships for its OpenEdge Integrated Payments Channel.  Global also gains a stronger U.S. presence in restaurant, retail and education verticals.

  • The new combined company will need to determine how to avoid channel conflict with Heartland’s POS companies, Xpient, pcAmerica, Dinerware and Liquer POS.  OpenEdge has operated with a strict mantra not to compete against the channel in the past.  Heartland Payments has had a more blended go-to-market strategy – enabling its direct sales to sell its POS systems while simultaneously developing ISV/Reseller channel.
Read more

Don't Build A Digital Strategy; Digitize Your Business Strategy

Martin Gill

Business leaders don't think of digital as central to their business because in the past, it hasn't been. But now your customers, your products, your business operations, and your competitors are fundamentally digital. To win in this new world, digital leaders must reimagine their businesses as fundamentally digital. Do this, and you can become a digital predator; fail, and your business will become digital prey.

This isn’t a fundamentally new message from Forrester. We’ve been saying this for a couple of years now. But what we have done is update our thinking and our data on the subject based on our most recent research and a major new survey in partnership with Odgers Berndtson.

The result is that we’ve updated the Digital Business Imperative- the anchor document for our Digital Business Transformation playbook. In some ways it's disturbing reading, because while the overwhelming majority of executives now acknowledge that digital will disrupt their industry, just over a quarter think that their firm has an appropriate strategy in place to respond.

Read more

Yahoo’s Challenge: Mobile. Yahoo’s Answer: China.

Julie Ask

Yahoo’s board met yesterday amidst disappointing financial results that have failed to live up to the expectations of its investors. Prevailing rumors suggest that the board under pressure from investors will vote to break apart the business and sell the pieces.

While it is true that the majority of Yahoo’s revenue comes from online advertising, the future is clearly mobile. Mobile phone numbers are more important than email addresses, and consumers already use their mobile phones more than two hours a day in the U.S. Global expansion depends on mobile.

Power in mobile depends on two core factors: audience and data. Here’s why.

Audience will draw in developers, advertisers and service providers. Today in mobile, audience depends on a strong presence in social networking, instant messaging, and media (e.g., video, music, games, news and books).

Data is the context that drives the value of the audience. The more context brands have about consumers to offer them insights about needs and motivations, the better brands can win, serve and retain those customers in their mobile moments. Winning in data includes access to email, browser, maps, search, wallet, commerce, health, fitness, home and automotive data - as a start. Those who own the mobile OS (e.g., Apple, Google and Microsoft in the U.S.) own the trump card in data.

Simply put, despite a host of strategic mobile acquisitions (e.g., social media, mobile analytics) and new talent, Yahoo! is still too small. It lacks the scale of Facebook or Google. This makes Yahoo a good partner, but not the booming, independent success that each of these businesses has become.

Read more


Predictions 2016: eBiz Professionals’ Influence Continues to Expand

Patti Freeman Evans

2016 is looking busy for eBusiness professionals, who hold an increasingly important role as digital leaders in their organizations. They’ve been in strategic and operational roles, driving digital transformation throughout their companies. Their hand in new developments such as digital store or branch, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) proves that this role is core to productive, current, and rapidly evolving firm. 

In 2016, Forrester believes that:

Top digital leaders will get poached by other firms. As lagging firms wake up to the current competitive reality in 2016, they will actively look to those leading digital transformation in the service of customer obsession to find top talent.  And they’ll be looking across verticals — not just within their own competitive set.

Mobile takes business beyond digital channels, roles, and responsibilities. Only 4% of the executives we surveyed have the organization, technology, and talent to engage consumers proactively in their mobile moments, but 14% aspire to do so.  To address this gap, many companies will create mobile centers of excellence where digital leaders will be key players. In this role, they will orchestrate the use of mobile throughout the organization, driving cross-role collaboration.

Digital ecosystems will accelerate — particularly with mobile. As more organizations look to serve their customers across multiple touchpoints and an evolving journey, digital pros will help tie them together via partner ecosystems.  These ecosystems will connect with customers across their personal ecosystems. For example, digital pros will create new partnerships with mobile platforms as consumers spend time in fewer apps.

Read more


Announcing Forrester’s Inaugural Wave Evaluation of Subscription Billing Platforms

Lily Varon

Few industries are immune from the digitization of experiences, content, services, and products. In this era of cloud computing, IOT and mobile devices, firms are increasingly testing new product offerings that combine elements of content, software, services, and hardware together. Like the evolution of the products themselves, the rulebook on monetizing them is also evolving: firms are replacing the simple one-time sales models of yore with subscription and consumption-based business models that better sustain a continuous relationship with their customers. But unfortunately, in most cases, firms’ existing technology ecosystem doesn’t support the complex requirements of supporting a subscription business model- from customer lifecycle management to finance management.  Enter: subscription billing platforms.

Forrester has identified the eight leading vendors in the space and spent the last four months putting them through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. Here’s what we found.

■  Aria Systems, SAP hybris billing, and Zuora lead the pack. These three vendors represent thought leadership and the associated market innovation. All three commonly go head-to-head in opportunities at both midmarket and enterprise firms and in both B2C and B2B monetization scenarios. Each of the three has developed core industry vertical expertise in sectors such as IOT, healthcare, and telco and has established mature partnerships with global management consultancy and system integration firms.

Read more

In 2016, Financial Services Executives Will Bet Big On APIs

Peter Wannemacher

We’ve just published our Predictions 2016 report, outlining eight shifts that banks and their partners can expect by December 31 of next year. I encourage you to read the full report with all of our predictions here.

As a preview of the report, here are two of our predictions for 2016:

  • APIs and open platforms will take center stage. APIs are becoming the most powerful technology in digital business design. Done right, APIs open new angles for business strategy. Financial services providers have been relatively slow to recognize and act on APIs as an opportunity to transform their businesses and, ultimately, better win, serve, and retain customers.* This will change in 2016, as digital executives collaborate with CIOs to champion big investments in internal, B2B, and product APIs. APIs won’t only help firms increase agility and provide services to clients and partners: They will enable financial firms to build dynamic ecosystems of value, reconnecting a fragmented value chain. They will be part of a wider, and longer-term, shift to open platforms as the foundation of digital financial services strategy.
Read more

The Race To Digital Mastery Is On In 2016

Martin Gill

When it comes to digital, we are at a pivot point. Digitizing your business isn’t about technology: it’s about customer obsession - and in 2016, it will be among your ten critical business success factors helping position your firm for success in the Age of the Customer. In fact, next year will be a year of consequence: those firms that “get digital” will begin to pull ahead, and those firms that don’t will begin to look increasingly archaic, facing the risk of extinction.

The preliminary results from our recent digital business survey are telling. An increasing number of firms are reporting that they have a coherent and comprehensive digital strategy. While this is good news, these firms are still the minority. The vast majority of firms report that their approach to digital is limited at best, and non-existent at worst. But the consistently bleak picture is that most executives think the wrong people are in charge of their digital activities and few (very few) think they have the capabilities to deliver.

But there are some shining lights.

Leading firms like John Deere are pathing the path to digital mastery, demonstrating revenue and share price growth that outpaces less digitally savvy competitors. Executive committees are taking note. Innovation spend is on the rise, digital skills are in hot demand, and a new breed of digitally savvy senior leaders is finally emerging.

Read more

2016 Predictions: Key Trends Will Transform Mobile Engagement

Julie Ask

2016 will be the most consequential year for companies on the path to customer obsession, and that includes adapting to empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices.  Today that represents nearly 50% of consumers in the U.S. alone. The consumers pick up their mobile devices 150 to 200 times a day. In aggregate, that adds up to nearly 30 billion mobile moments each day. These mobile moments are the next battleground where companies will win, serve and retain their customers. Tragically, few companies will make the leap. Those that do will reap the rewards.


What role does mobile play in customer obsession, and how can businesses leapfrog their competition to deliver superior customer experiences? Here are three ways Forrester predicts mobile will change the ways business leaders operate in 2016.


1. Mobile will act as a catalyst to transform businesses in the Age of the Customer.

Read more