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为什么小银行会惧怕大型金融科技公司?

专栏传统金融的互联网化国际资讯

为什么小银行会惧怕大型金融科技公司?

社区银行和信用合作社执事并不喜欢Fiserv收购First Data的消息,一些人担心此举将创造出一个他们认为运行速度减缓并且更加官僚化的机构。

这场收购符合Fiserv的利益,将两大金融业行业机构结合在一起。一家提供核心银行业务,服务于12000家机构客户;另一家是支付处理和科技提供商,服务于4000家机构客户。合并后,新公司将拥有行业主导的规模。

但一些人担心合并会让公司无暇于其他事物,无法创新以及回应社区银行客户的需求。虽然Fiserv和First Data大部分提供的是互补性非竞争性的业务,但这场并购规模巨大让人担心融合过程将耗费数年的努力和资源。

Zions Bancorp副总裁兼高级战略师Alex Jimenez说:"许多社区银行和信用合作社依赖于这些大型Fintech公司以和其他Fitech公司以及最大型银行竞争。这场并购将影响这些大fintech公司敏捷的速度和能力。"

多年来,社区银行和信用合作社一直抱怨他们只能使用垄断的几家提供商如Fiserv、FIS、 Jack Henry和Finastra提供的陈旧核心系统,从而导致他们竞争力缺乏。

应用新兴科技对许多小型机构来说一直是一大挑战,包括虚拟助手、机器人流程自动化、分布式账本和开放银行,因为这些机构的核心技术提供商并没有快速响应新创新。银行从业认识一直抱怨说他们想应用创新性技术却苦于他们的核心系统不支持。

这个问题很大,美国银行家协会为此创设了一个核心服务提供商委员会,试图帮助小银行应对竞争性市场中的科技需求。

主要问题是当一家小机构想要改变其核心银行系统或者将之与新软件融合时,它必须要排队,还有很多其他小机构有同样的请求。Fiserv-First Data合并后,这个排队只会更长。

一名匿名的社区银行从业人员还表示担心其他核心服务提供商的竞争回应。

这名人士说:"这会带来更多'大机构'整合,这会让社区银行面临更加困难的情况。"

在一封书面声明中,Fiserv发言人说银行和信用合作社无需担心。

声明中说:"我们的团队有着整合公司的优良记录,合适的时候我们将运用集体经验成功地整合Fiserv和 First Data,我们两家公司会保持以优异服务客户为指导原则。毕竟我们的客户是我们存在的原因。我们是一家以目的驱动的公司,致力于通过领先科技、创新和将我们所做的一切做到极致为我们的客户提供超凡价值。收购后,我们将能更好地提供更加宽泛的高价值客户解决方案,端到端能力覆盖面也更广。"

一些人仍担心这种收购会让互相竞争的fintech公司更多对于小型机构的相对优势。

上述的社区银行从业人士说:"First Data是其他核心提供商的后台合作商,现在要说这场并购会怎样影响那些合作以及推广社区银行所需的支付方案的能力与速度还为时过早。Fintech公司可能会收益,因为他们慢慢围攻了支付市场。"

大多数小型机构已经接受了只能依赖于大型核心提供商这个事实,因为只需要一个提供商就能满足所有需求很方便。

Javelin 战略与研究银行业高级副总裁Jacob Jegher说:"在很小的银行,早上开门煮咖啡的人同时也是负责人。这些小银行没有多余人员去寻找合适的提供商并且使用多个三方或fintech公司来整合多个解决方案。他们十分庆幸只需要找一个提供商。"

但这种方便有代价,比如价格、修改需求排队以及难以和其他科技整合。

对Fiserv来说,这场并购显然有许多商业好处。

Jegher说:"过去几年fintech公司间一直互相较劲要成为领域内最大的提供商,成为最大的能够拿下尽可能多的客户并提供附加服务的供应商。"

Fiserv收购First Data后能够获得支付与商户服务技术,这在理论上能够帮助Fiserv与其他支付fintech公司如Stripe 和Square竞争。比如First Data很火的Clover POS支付科技可以帮助Fiserv客户与小公司合作,前提是这个技术与Fiserv的核心产品整合。

Fiserv还说,合并后的公司计划在未来五年内投资5亿美元在风险管理、商户解决方案和支付科技上。

但现在每天都有新的fintech挑战银行出现,开放银行也越来越是潮流,完全依靠于一个大型零售服务商的日子也许屈指可数了,除非提供商拥有快速改变适应的能力。

Jegher说:"那些依然封闭的公司将很难竞争。银行要增加价值,他们的服务提供商就必须要支持与其他产品的整合。如果要等很久才能获得整合,那这就是个竞争性挑战。"

总值,银行和信用合作社需要技术多选项和开放才能在未来几年依然保有地位。这场并购对此无疑没有助益。

The news that Fiserv is buying First Data may be unwelcome to community bank and credit union executives, some of whom fear it will create an entity they believe will be slower and more bureaucratic.

The deal makes sense for Fiserv. It brings together two financial industry behemoths: a core banking vendor with 12,000 financial institution customers and a payment processing and technology provider with 4,000 financial institution clients. The merged company will have the scale to dominate the industry.

But some fear the merger will also be a huge distraction for the combined company that could take away from its ability to innovate and to respond to community bank clients' needs. Though Fiserv and First Data largely offered complementary, not competing, products, the merger is a massive one, fueling concerns that the task of integrating them will take years of efforts and resources.

"Many community banks and credit unions rely on these large banktech firms to compete with fintech and the largest banks," said Alex Jimenez, vice president and senior strategist at Zions Bancorp. "The merger could impact the pace and their ability to be swift."

For years, community banks and credit unions have complained they are bogged down by their dependence on aging core systems from an oligopoly of vendors: Fiserv, FIS, Jack Henry, and Finastra.

It's been challenging for many smaller institutions to adopt emerging tech, including virtual assistants, robotics process automation, distributed ledgers and open banking, because their core vendors don't respond quickly to new innovations. Bankers frequently complain that they'd like to adopt innovative technology but can't because their core systems don't support it.

It's become such a problem that the American Bankers Association has created a committee with core service providers in an effort to help small banks meet the technology needs of a competitive market.

A key issue is that when a small institution wants to make a change to its core banking system or integrate it with new software, it has to get in line behind many other small institutions making similar requests. In the wake of the Fiserv-First Data merger, that line is likely to get longer.

One community banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also worried about about the competitive response from other core service providers.

"This points to further consolidation by the 'bigs,' which I believe does make it more difficult for community banks," the executive said.

In a written response, a Fiserv spokesperson said banks and credit unions shouldn't be worried.

"Our teams have a strong track record of successfully integrating companies and, when the time comes, we will apply our collective experience to successfully integrate Fiserv and First Data, as we each maintain a focus on serving clients with excellence," the spokesperson said. "At the end of the day, our clients are why we exist. As a purpose-driven organization, we are focused on delivering superior value for our clients through leading technology, innovation and excellence in everything we do. With this acquisition, we will be better positioned to offer a broader suite of high-value client solutions with an even more extensive range of end-to-end capabilities."

Some still worry it will give competing fintechs an even larger advantage over smaller institutions.

"First Data is a back-end partner with other core providers, and it's too early to tell how this will impact those relationships and potentially the capabilities and speed to market for payments capabilities needed by community banks," the community banker said. "Maybe this helps fintechs as they look to close in on the payments landscape."

Most small institutions have accepted their dependence on large core vendors for the convenience of having one vendor for all needs.

"At really small banks, the guy who opens the bank in morning and makes the coffee is also a C-level executive," said Jacob Jegher, senior vice president of banking at Javelin Strategy & Research. "These are small providers that don't have the staffing or the luxury to go out and do things like vendor selection and integration of multiple solutions using multiple third parties or fintechs. They are thankful to have the option of going to a single provider."

But that convenience comes with disadvantages, including pricing, long waits for modifications and difficulty integrating with other technology.

For Fiserv, the merger brings clear business advantages.

"There's an arms race that has been going on for the last few years to become the largest fintech provider in the universe - to be the biggest provider, the one that can scoop up as many clients as possible but also to provide additional services," Jegher said.

Fiserv is gaining payments and merchant services that in theory it will be able to offer its bank clients that could help them compete with fintech payment providers like Stripe and Square. For instance, First Data's popular Clover POS payment technology could help Fiserv clients work with small businesses, if that technology is integrated with Fiserv's core products.

Fiserv also said the combined company plans to invest $500 million over the next five years on risk management, merchant solutions and payment technologies.

But in a world in which new fintech challenger banks crop up every day and open banking is becoming more popular, the days of wholesale dependence on one incumbent vendor may be numbered unless that vendor can become far nimbler.

"Those that remain closed will have a harder time competing," Jegher said. "For banks to add value, their providers need to be able to support integration" with other products. "If it will take forever to integrate, that presents a competitive challenge."

In short, banks and credit unions need technology choice and openness to stay relevant in coming years. This merger is unlikely to help.

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