Fintech Nation: Switching bank should be like switching energy supplier

20 Apr 2016

Derek Butler, Chair and CEO of Grid Finance. Image via Connor McKenna

What opportunities lie ahead in fintech? At the recent Fintech Nation event organised by the Fintech Payments Association of Ireland (FPAI), ease of switching bank and empowering of the consumer appears to be what fintech leaders have in mind.

The largest fintech event ever held in Ireland, Fintech Nation brought together some of the most influential members of the FPAI, which now represents more than 9,000 people working within the fintech industry in this country.

Following yesterday’s question regarding the possibility that Ireland could be a global leader in fintech, many of those speakers on the various panels were asked what are the greatest threats and opportunities presented by the disruption coming from the fintech world?

This term ‘disruption’ is a word often cited within the fintech world, but, as the chair and CEO of Grid Finance, Derek Butler, puts it, it’s hoped that the advances made by fintech start-ups and SMEs is not to overthrow the banks, but to forge alliances with them to bring their services into the 21st century.

‘Where your money sits won’t be important to you’

One of these start-ups that is quickly forcing its way into the mainstream is Fire Financial Services, founded and run by Irish fintech guru Colm Lyon.

Discussing its stance on how fintech companies will find their way into regulatory banking when the process opens up once again in two years time, the company’s head of product, Owen O’Byrne, drew the analogy of how we switch providers of electricity in our own homes.

“You don’t have to buy different appliances when you change electricity company, so you won’t have to change your financial products when you change bank in the future,” he said.

“In the future, where your money sits and what product you want to use will no longer be an important choice for you, it will just be ‘I want to use this product and it doesn’t care where my money is, so why should I’?”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic