So you’ve got banks and fintech startups in the same room, now what?

Rhetoric between traditional financial institutions and emerging technology startups has definitely shifted from hostility and suspicion towards partnership in the past few years. But while it’s increasingly clear that real meaningful transformation in financial services requires collaboration between the different stakeholders in the global ecosystem, moving from talk to action is easier said than done.

Enter Innotribe, which is tasked with identifying emerging trends in financial services innovation, as well as generating discussions about how these trends will impact the industry going forward. Born in the ashes of the global financial crisis, it aims to take the industry beyond talk and into action. At Sibos, taking place in Geneva this week, Innotribe is running the startup and industry challenges, which identify the most promising startups from around the world and pulling together task forces to start working on barriers facing the global community.

Innotribe is part of financial messaging services provider SWIFT, which also runs Sibos – probably the most significant gathering taking place in the global financial community each year. The conference first launched back in 1978 with 300 attendees. By last year the community of attendees had boomed to 8,000, highlighting not just the momentum building in this sector but the growing appetite for collaboration between traditional financial institutions, vendors, investors, regulators and new entrants.

In the latest episode of the FinTalk podcast, we talk to head of Innotribe Fabian Vandenreydt about key trends in emerging financial technology, what to expect from Sibos and why there’s never been a better time to collaborate in financial services.

Listen on on Soundcloud and iTunes right now. We’ve also transcribed the interview below for those of you that prefer that format. Enjoy!

Team FinTalk. 

What is Innotribe and where does it fit into SWIFT?

It’s an initiative we started in 2009 – its purpose when it was created was to bridge the communities of financial service banks and startups and start talking about how banks would benefit from innovation in the startup scene. It’s a network of startups, venture funds, coaches and heads of innovation in banks.

Our role is still the same after all these years: to improve the status of financial services innovation through collaboration across the full ecosystem of banks and startups.


Why is there a need for something like this?

The need evolved of its own accord. Back in 2009 there was no such thing – ‘fintech’ did not even exist as a word and there were a lot of barriers between startups and banks in terms of language, expectations and objectives. At the time fintech it was very much concentrated in certain cities and areas as other was real a need for translation and trying to make people work together.

Over time startups have became more mature and banks have evolved in terms of what they can do with startups

Today, maybe the translation element is needed less and globality is needed more so that global institutions can work with startups wherever they are. The notion of connecting ecosystems on a global scale is more important than translation now.


The industry has changed a lot since Innotribe was born, what have been the most interesting trends to emerge?

2009, when Innotribe was born, was right after the global financial crisis.

After that financial institutions’ budgets were very much dedicated to compliance with regulatory requirements. The discretionary budget to become better and serve clients better was smaller than it is today. There was real need for external innovation.

Since then maturity has evolved in the sector – you see banks setting up venture funds themselves, startups becoming larger companies, acquisitions and partnerships. The topics of innovation are also evolving – back in 2009 we were very much talking about retail banking.

Today it’s all things ending with ‘tech’ – wealth tech, insure-tech, fin tech, reg tech and so on. It has percolated across different businesses. It is also more B2B than in 2009.


What sectors are you particularly excited by?

I work for a firm that is at the basis – with others – of infrastructure of financial services wholesale so we are looking at things that will evolve the landscape infrastructure like big data, distributed ledger tech and eventually IOT – things that have the promise to evolve the underlying infrastructure.

Looking more at verticals, it’s things like robo-advisory and everything related to better security and user experience.


Where does Sibos fit into what you’re doing?

Sibos is the yearly conference organised by SWIFT and within that Innotribe is part of the agenda with its own four-day programme.

Every year we try to evolve the conference and the overall theme this year is disrupting the landscape.

Within Innotribe we will talk about four things: how to handle disruption in emerging geographies and technologies; how to organise for complexity as a firm and as an individual; the relationship between man and machine, so AI, robo-advisor; organisation impact and platform economics – how to organise an eco-system for the benefit of members.

Read the full transcript on

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