Blog Post

6th World Digital Banking Summit: Reflections on Innovation and the Future of Banking

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 6th World Digital Banking Summit in Berlin, and I must say, it was an event to remember. The summit was very well attended (not massive in scale), but it felt like everyone present had something interesting and valuable to bring to the table. Here's a peek into the highlights and some intriguing quotes that caught my attention. 

Bill Gates' Resonating Wisdom 

One of the most powerful quotes that echoed throughout the event, shared three times on the summit stage, was from none other than Bill Gates himself: "Banking is necessary, banks are not." You sort of can’t “un-hear” it once it sinks in. In today's digital age, where fintech innovations are rapidly reshaping the financial landscape, this quote serves as a reminder that the traditional banking model simply needs to evolve. The emphasis now is on adaptability and staying relevant, even as the banking institutions themselves undergo transformation. 

The Dreaded Comparison 

Jerome Vicq, Head of IT Strategy at Societe Generale, added another layer of insight with his quote, "Most people would rather go to the dentist than go to the bank." Ouch! It's a stark reminder of the common perception that traditional banking is essentially dismissed as a tedious, time-consuming process by customers of all ages. As we discuss the future of banking, addressing this perception and creating a more user-friendly experience must be a top priority. There are too many easy alternatives; loyalty is fading, and many banks will lose clients more quickly than ever. 

Change is Inevitable, but Slow 

Throughout the summit, a recurring theme emerged – the pace of change within traditional banks. Yes, change is possible, but it takes time, often way too long, because we’re in an inherently conservative, risk-averse industry. The need for traditional banks to move faster was a constant refrain, despite the obstacles they face. This sentiment resonates with the ever-increasing demand for innovation in banking, driven by customer expectations and the rise of agile fintech companies. 

Change might slow, but the demand for innovation is relentless 

Another significant takeaway was the client-side expectation (well, actually a demand!) for new products and offerings in the banking sector. With rapid technological advancements, customers now anticipate a constant stream of innovation from their financial institutions. The message was clear – to stay competitive and relevant, banks need to consistently provide fresh and exciting solutions that cater to evolving consumer needs. 

 A Shared Destination, Different Paths 

As the day concluded, the Chairman offered a thought-provoking observation: "I think it's clear where we're all going; it's just a question of how we'll get there." This encapsulates the overarching theme of the summit - while the general direction of the banking industry's future is evident, there are numerous approaches and strategies to reach the desired destination. I’d sum it up like this: The path to a digitally transformed banking landscape may differ for each institution, but the shared goal remains the same. 

In retrospect, the 6th World Digital Banking Summit in Berlin reinforced the idea that while change is inevitable, it’s not a checkbox item; speed and dynamic, creative approaches to adaptation are crucial in shaping the future of banking.