The Strategist

Why big banks are afraid of fintech

02/07/2018 - 11:27

Large financiers fear that IT giants will take control of the banking system and take away the tastiest pieces from them. They demand that watchdogs take urgent measures.

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IT-giants hitting on the finance sphere threaten financial stability, the Financial Times writes. Officials of the EU's financial authorities believe that the largest American and Chinese high-tech groups should work under the same requirements and rules as large banks do. This year, Brussels promises to promulgate rules that will make the banking system "open." The rules, in particular, oblige credit institutions to provide access to customer accounts on demand. Prominent representatives of the banking sector are now afraid that technical groups will take the most profitable areas and sectors of the banking system away from them.

Chairman of the Board of the Spanish bank BBVA Francisco Gonzalez warns that companies such as Facebook and Amazon in the US and Alibaba with Tencent in China can displace and replace tens, if not hundreds, of banks. He called on the G20 to take action. The Spanish banker is sure that the authorities should protect banks in order to maintain financial stability.

Thanks to a different regulatory system in the sectors, IT-giants will have an advantage in the competition with banks and. Watchdogs don’t watch the hi-tech sector as close as the world of finance. Bankers, of course, do not call to forbid IT-giants to deal with finances, but they demand that all be equalized in rights and duties.

Hi-tech has always been interested in financial activities. The sector has been present in this market for a long time, but gradually their presence is expanding and becoming more and more noticeable. Amazon has created a platform that provides payment services and gives out loans to traders. Facebook recently received a license to work with electronic money in Ireland. Alibaba and Tencent followed Amazon and now dominate the Chinese payment services market, which is estimated at $ 5.5 trillion.

Director of the Dutch bank ING Ralph Hamers believes that the law requiring "to open a banking system" has opened the doors for IT-giants and literally encouraged them to engage in financial activities.

"There is a big threat for banks," he explained to the FT, "because" high technology " has more free money that they can spend... Society cannot help but pay attention to too much concentration of power."

Gonzalez, who, by the way, retires next year, explains that now banks are responsible for everything that happens in them. He is convinced that the same responsibility should be placed on platforms created by Internet giants.

"But for this," he says, "it is necessary to change the entire legal architecture."

The share of Google, Amazon and Microsoft in the storage of financial data in the "cloud" is growing rapidly. In general, banks are interested in transferring as much operations as possible to artificial intelligence (AI), but further expansion and deepening of this process will only increase their dependence on platforms of high-tech companies.

Once popular expression "sharks in suits" implied banks almost in the first place. And Mark Twain said that the banker is the person who gives you an umbrella when the sun is shining and takes back with the first drops of rain. Will the still-formidable old sharks of the traditional financial sector be able to fight off their young colleagues from fintech? Probably yes, but they themselves will have change.