HSBC retail head sees more bank partnerships with financial tech firms

A Swiss International aircraft flies past the HSBC headquarters building in the Canary Wharf financial district in east London February 15, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

HSBC‘s retail banking and wealth management head John Flint expects banks to partner more with fintech companies in the coming years to help meet changing demands from customers.

Banks are increasingly teaming up with fintech companies, previously seen a threat, as they look to respond to a sharp increase in customers banking online and to take advantage of opportunities created by new technologies such as blockchain.

“I think there’s an awful lot of scope for collaboration,” Flint said in an interview at the Toronto Global Forum on Monday.

The HSBC executive said that, when visiting Davos for the World Economic Forum five years ago, he had been struck by how hostile and dismissive fintech entrepreneurs were toward established banks but noted that the dialogue had since changed.

“There’s mutual respect on both sides. If you look at smaller fintech firms, you can see that banks are partnering with them and that benefits both stakeholders’ needs,” he said.

HSBC, itself, has set aside $200 million to invest in tech start-ups.

Flint said Apple Pay was “both a threat and an opportunity”.

“We partner with Apple in every market that they want to be in. They’ve provided a technology platform and payment experience which our customers want. They extract a rent from us but we can do more business,” he said.

Flint said banks had fallen behind other industries in embracing new technology, with their attentions dominated by repairing balance sheets and meeting tougher regulatory requirements in the aftermath of the 2007-09 financial crisis.

“I think we probably have but it’s because we’ve been a bit distracted. The industry pretty much failed and then we’ve been in remediation mode and fix mode ever since,” he said.

“It feels like our industry has woken up to the possibilities of new technology really in the last three or four years,” he added. “If there hadn’t been a crisis, I’m sure we would all have started thinking about it a lot earlier.”

Flint said the full implications of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union had yet to become clear.

“I don’t think any of us really know. Everything is uncertain,” he said.

However, he added that HSBC was sticking by the decision that it made in February to stay headquartered in the UK despite the outcome of the vote.

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Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.