Customer experience in the era of 3.0 FinTech

Gustavo Imhof
Posted: 09/25/2017

The 3rd generation of FinTech is fantastic news for customer experience in niche segments, says CX expert Gustavo Imhof.

The surge of technology-savvy and customer-centric entrants in the financial services industry has caused great disruption in the market, forcing the industry as a whole to enhance experiences delivered to customers – putting them in the driving seat, like almost every other industry has. However, for financial services this transformation did not happen as swiftly as in other industries. As it happened over two decades, we can distinguish three very distinct dynamics within the industry.

David and Goliath, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, symbiosis; they perfectly illustrate the dynamics and the relationships we witnessed between FinTech up-spring and traditional financial services players since the early days of the dotcom craze.

In the early days, PayPal was the David to the banks’ Goliath, the small start-up that was there to upset the deep-routed balance in the current account landscape. Soon enough, international money transfer would be disrupted by new entrants like TransferWise, Azimo with lower fees and greater ease of use.

With traditional players reacting and trying to protect their established standing in the market, the dynamic changed towards one closer to the classic 1950s Looney Tunes cartoon Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

It might sound far-fetched, at first, but consider this for a moment:

  • Road Runner is constantly going much faster, iterating routes with incredible ease and pivoting when critical for success and survival
  • The Coyote is very, very smart and resourceful and devises great strategies to reach his goals
  • Much of Coyote’s plans are based around the exact same sort of paradigm (Acme products) and it appears incredibly complicated to move away from established practices
  • It does happen that Coyote catches Road Runner, but even then, the rewards are not perceived to be as massive a success as hoped.


If you were to replace Road Runner by FinTech and Coyote by traditional players, we find striking similarities with recent events in the industry, such as longer established institutions trying to copy new market entrants, creating and running incubators, hackathons, and taking interest in or outright buying-out the more agile and disruptive FinTech actors.

In the early days, PayPal was the David to the banks’ Goliath, the small start-up that was there to upset the deep-routed balance in the current account landscape.


There is however a new dynamic which surfaced recently. This dynamic has actually existed in nature long before the written word but was first described in the late 1800s: symbiosis. A symbiosis is the phenomenon of unlikely organism (FinTech and traditional organisations, in this case) living together in harmony in a mutually beneficial agreement.

Express Current Account for your front-line

You’ve probably heard the case for businesses empowering their front-line staff to delight customers and provide spectacular service recoveries (maybe your business even does it too). In many cases, these staff members have a budget they can spend on these individual interactions with customers. This can leads to burdensome processes to record, book keep and budget.

Tide is a current account platform which gives you a sort code and account number in five minutes, has no monthly fee (but a small transaction charge) and a credit card. And to put the cherry on top of the cake, they provide smart tools to streamline bookkeeping, admin and invoicing directly on a smartphone – accountant-free, which makes it incredibly easy to maintain afloat.

The above scenario would be significantly streamlined if a business was to open a current account for each of their locations, where they would deposit their ‘recovery allowance’ and harness the power of the automated reporting which allows tracking the expenses whenever required (i.e. as a source of insight alongside Voice of the Customer data or localised performance management).

A bank might well want to enter this space, and so they could. But with current accounts not being the most profitable products they can offer (it tends to be more of a step towards more profitable products such as mortgages), most banks would be better off allocating valuable resources into enhancing experiences delivered through critical journeys more in line with their leading products.

(Very) short-term ad-hoc car insurance

Remember the last time you had to borrow someone else’s car? It’s a conundrum where someone must choose between breaking the law and getting a hefty fine, or much paper work and headaches involved for a journey that could be as short as an hour.

Cuvva understands this is a broken journey many consumers are facing which is why they build an entire subscription-based business around this. Their offering is simple: drive any car by the hour, only pay for what you use and be insured in a matter of minutes rather than days whenever you need to drive a new car. Their product enables you to protect the car owner and yourself without even affecting their policy and their no-claims bonus.

In short, it’s a pay-as-you-go service for your car insurance. Obviously, as many services of this type, the minimum unit (here the hour) costs significantly more than if it was part of a tariff, but it does enable a quick, headache-free resolution to a pain point that is all too familiar to car insurance policyholders all over the UK.

This service could be easily mimicked by leading insurers but would signify a complete change in their business model should they want to follow a more pay-as-you-go approach. And people who are always on the road will probably prefer a tariff, which would represent a better deal for them.

How does this make a symbiosis?

A symbiosis is the phenomenon of unlikely organism (FinTech and traditional organisations, in this case) living together in harmony in a mutually beneficial agreement.


The offerings of tide and Cuvva are very niche and cater to an audience that is thus far inadequately catered to by the more established players. Yes, they are probably taking some business away from them, but it does not represent the core segment in their customer base (with traditional players investing heavily in CX, the journeys were simply too broken for these to be a priority).

On the other hand, it would be an extremely resource-intensive and herculean task for Cuvva to take on the leading insurers or for tide to become a full-service bank. With Cuvva and tide catering to these niche needs and the rest of the industry providing services to the greater population, FinTech finally found its place in the consumer landscape – not in antagonism but, on the contrary, co-habiting harmoniously. This new-found symbiosis is what I call: ‘next practice in the making’.

Gustavo Imhof
Posted: 09/25/2017