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Challenger banks and the rapid push for innovation


What are challenger banks?

Challenger banks are just what the name says: they are challenges to established financial institutions. The concept started in the United Kingdom but has spread to many areas of the world, although sometimes under different names, i.e. just being called “fintech.” Setting up new banks with a license for years was extremely expensive and time-consuming, because of the regulatory environment. As such, in most industrialized nations, a handful of banks came to dominate the entire landscape. After the 2008 financial crisis, though, the idea was to make it easier to create new banks and new options for consumers. That led to a wave of challenger banks, fin-tech options, money management apps, and more. So, in essence, these options present a challenge to established, entrenched banks and financial institutions. 

There’s a related term called “neobanks,” which is a little bit different. Neobanks are entirely digital; there is no physical presence at all. They offer simple, cloud-based solutions, usually for small businesses and startups, allowing them access to a wide range of services. 

A leading current neobank is Monzo, one of the earliest entrants into that space. Revolut, which began in the UK and is now expanding to other areas, is a leading challenger bank and one of about 100 globally right now. 

Both “neo” and “challenger” banks aren’t going anywhere, and they’ve already had major impacts on the legacy side of the financial, insurance, and banking sector.

What’s one of the biggest changes?

Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI Industry) had always been a big consumer of IT services, but it’s become an even bigger of IT services in the past decade. Why? Because the industry needs to make sure it is following regulations, for one. But then, at the same time, all these neo and challenger options are allowing them the ability to redefine their business models and core offerings. That means they absolutely need flexibility and fast time-to-market, which you achieve through the right approach to software development. 

What would be the “right approach” in this case?

We often recommend to clients that they migrate from a “monolith” (older, legacy, and sometimes spaghetti code-laden) architecture to a microservices architecture. The migration to microservices is one of the best ways to drive digital transformation. In fact, overall, DevOps principles can help drastically accelerate business growth.

We worked up a video earlier this year on five key benefits of microservices implementation:

We’ve also put together a checklist of when it’s a good time to move from monolith to microservices. Check that out and see if your business, financial service or otherwise, could benefit from a more agile framework than it currently resides on. You can download it easily by clicking the button below:

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