23 Jun, 2022

Same needs, same story – Why is nobody talking about Europe’s smaller institutions?

Nektarios Liolios, Fintech veteran and Natech Strategic Advisor, on how the pain points of smaller institutions shouldn’t be ignored – they affect all of us.

I’ve just come back from Money20/20 in Amsterdam. Amazingly it felt exactly like the last one I went to in 2019 – in a good way because I managed to connect with people, bump into old friends and absorb the buzz of all things New in Fintech. But it surprised me to see that the conference didn’t really reflect the fact that the world has changed in the last three years.

Same needs, same story – Why is nobody talking about Europe’s smaller institutions?

The pandemic has shown that people engage with their financial institutions differently: people need someone who understands them and who responds to their needs quickly and effectively.

We have all seen that small and medium-sized banking institutions played a crucial role during the pandemic and they are regarded as very important for the pandemic economic recovery – but guess what? There was nothing at Money20/20 that reflected that. Small financial institutions have the same needs for innovation and digitisation. They face the same technology challenges, with legacy systems and old processes.

But with considerably smaller budgets, they have to be much more careful about how to invest in technology and innovation. And, like much bigger organisations, they also need to make sure they keep the lights on whilst transforming the business at the same time, keeping their customers happy.

Even more so than for the larger players, survival is a very real concern. European cooperative banks, credit unions and community banks are facing the threat of market consolidation on one hand and the competitive offerings of neobanks and fintechs on the other.

And yet, nobody is talking about this! It seems to me that nobody cares. For the big technology players and professional services firms this is small fry and not important enough to focus on.

When I met Thanasis Navrozoglou, the CEO and founder of Natech, I was impressed by his vision to help this very market segment, to build technology and solutions that meet their needs, making sure that Natech’s offering is easy to implement, affordable, nimble – allowing them to continue playing their role in the community, giving both their retail and SME clients the modern service they deserve. We are going through a period where financial services are moving towards hyper-personalisation and where trust is being redefined and digitised. Small financial institutions play a crucial role in this. It is great to see somebody finally building the technology to help them do that.