HSBC retail head sees more bank partnerships with financial tech firms

Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:51pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - HSBC's (HSBA.L: Quote) retail banking and wealth management head John Flint expects banks to partner more with financial technology (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 (AAPL.O: Quote) 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.   Continued...

The HSBC logo is seen on a top roof of the main branch in Beirut, Lebanon July 25, 2016. REUTERS/ Aziz Taher