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The methods underpinning Fintech innovation

By Charles Green, thought leadership director at Belatrix Software 

Amidst the chaotic economic and political aftermath of Brexit, and a shifting landscape for Fintech, it’s easy to get caught up in the events of today, and lose sight of the fundamentals underpinning the Fintech revolution. So in this blog I want to examine the methodologies that enable nimble, disruptive Fintech firms to run rings around their banking and financial service competition. Is it just that they have a different mindset and a lack of legacy systems to contend with? Or are they using and applying technology and software in fundamentally different ways to meet the needs of customers and drive innovation in their businesses?

Traditional banks benefit from scale, experience, strong brands, and a broad product portfolio. For Fintech upstarts to challenge these banks, they simply can’t do things in the same way. Successful Fintech firms rely on a different set of strengths such as their disruptive mindset in order to compete. But they also apply methodologies such as Agile software development, Design Thinking, and strong user experience capabilities to differentiate themselves from the competition:

  • Agile development and continuous delivery drive flexibility and responsiveness to customers. Agile development and continuous delivery provide the frameworks to iterate rapidly, and release software constantly to keep up with changing customer demands. Meanwhile creating great software requires attracting the best developer talent, and today’s developers expect not just to work with the latest technologies, but also with modern methodologies such as Agile.
  • Design thinking brings the customer to the fore. Traditional banks may have the scale, experience, and expertise, but all too often the end customer was placed too far down the list of priorities. Fintech start-ups with their disruptive mindsets, have looked to Design Thinking to change this. Ultimately Fintech is about human-centric design, and using that design to provide powerful, seamless customer experiences. It reflects the shift to what Forrester Research calls the “Age of the Customer” where customers, armed with information, have greater power than ever before to decide on which products and services they use. Design Thinking involves the use of a range of techniques such as customer journey mapping, rapid prototyping, storyboards and personas.
  • User experience and design skills to deliver powerful customer experiences. Mobile is a key driving force underpinning the need for better experiences – indeed for many organizations the only interaction point they have with their customers is via their mobile app. To create this next generation software, leading Fintech firms have prioritized investments in UX and design. And to deliver this level of consistent UX, design skills also need to be complemented by technological expertise in DevOps, microservice architectures, Agile, and continuous delivery.

To give an example of this in practice, Belatrix Software worked with a leading financial services organization aiming to develop new ways for customers to withdraw cash. The brief was to reimagine the ATM and how customers withdraw crash. Via a combination of Design Thinking, Agile development, and UX skills to rapidly create prototypes, Belatrix created a mobile app which could be used instead of a credit or debit card at an ATM – so-called “cardless cash”.

Many traditional banking and financial service organizations, from Barclays to BBVA, are trying to catch-up with their Fintech competition via such methodologies and frameworks. However, what is clear as we move forward through 2016, is that to serve ever more demanding customers, thriving Fintech firms will continually develop innovative product development strategies and use specific methodologies and frameworks to foster this innovation.

Fintech Week

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