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Study: B2B fintechs still failing to gain traction in 2018


  • Increasing cooperation between banks and B2B fintechs
  • Client access is most valuable asset
  • Culture clash between agile structures and hierarchical entities

Frankfurt/Main, 14 January 2019 – Providers of innovative financial technology – fintechs – failed to gain traction in corporate banking in 2018. Although cooperation between fintechs and banks continued to intensify, the market environment remains difficult and poses huge challenges for both sides. Corporate clients tend to be risk averse, have an extremely low error tolerance and are not drivers of innovation. Those are the findings of this year’s B2B fintech study “Love at third sight”, conducted jointly by commercial law firm CMS Germany and ING in Germany in association with FINANCE-Research.

Shared client, full potential

Client access remains the most valuable asset for fintechs and banks alike, leading to increasing recognition that a shared client can be of value to both partners. Having said that, no fixed pattern has emerged yet for cooperation models between fintechs and banks. Product partnerships, white label solutions and platform joint ventures are all popular options. Fintechs’ flexible ability to take over additional parts of the value chain also offers further scope for collaboration. Too little attention is often paid to the legal side of such alliances: fintechs that act as service providers to banks must comply with banking regulations. Fintechs owned by banks are additionally subject to group-wide policies, which can have serious consequences with regard to matters such as employee remuneration. “Fintechs would be well-advised to maintain a close relationship with the regulator, especially if there is any change to the regulatory environment or to their business model,” added Andrea München, partner at CMS Germany. “The regulatory framework is being steadily expanded and BaFin, the German financial regulator, sees more and more fintech activities as falling within the scope of supervision.”

Learning from others crucial to success

Banks learn from fintechs and in some cases even become fintechs themselves. They create digital hubs to establish their own development expertise, demonstrate their digital skills and improve their own understanding of the market and technology. At the same time, they analyse the potential of fintechs. The latter often feature agile structures, while banks traditionally have a more hierarchical way of working. “Learning from others is also crucial to success when it comes to agility,” said Andreas Becker, responsible for Corporate & Public Clients in the corporate client division of ING in Germany. “For us, agility is a mindset and also a philosophy. It helps us to adapt the bank’s products to changes in the market more quickly, thereby enabling us to meet client needs faster and with greater efficiency.”

Make or Buy?

Banks typically don’t have a specific fintech strategy. They engage with fintechs as part of their wider digitisation strategy. The key question that banks face in relation to fintechs is whether to make or buy. When seeking to establish a partnership, fintechs first need to convince the sceptics in the banks. After this hurdle has been overcome, the next task is to persuade corporate account managers to sell the product to clients. Fintechs often compete with the bank’s own product units, all of which are vying for the attention of the marketing department.

Study parameters

This new study follows on from the first B2B fintech study entitled “Friends, foes, partners. Fintechs and corporate banking” conducted in 2017, which took a quantitative look at the market. This survey again focuses solely on corporate client banking. The study is based on the findings from 20 in-depth interviews. Advisers and investors were interviewed in addition to fintechs and banks.

The complete study is available on request.

Press Contact of study partners:

Nadine Ehrentraut
Head of Public & Media Relations
CMS Germany
Tel.: 030 / 20360 2274
E-Mail: [email protected] 

Alexandra Jordans 
External Communication
ING Wholesale Banking
Tel.: 069 / 27 222 66710
E-Mail: [email protected] 

Related people

Portrait of Andrea München
Andrea München, LL. M. (Université du Luxembourg)