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The rise of the invisible bank

As consumers move online, retail banks will have to follow, says Mambu APAC Managing Director Myles Bertrand.


Digital banking is proliferating, and one of the top contenders in this evolving and innovative sector is Mambu – a platform that launched in Berlin in 2011.

Mambu provides the technology foundation for businesses to launch digital products and services, and is the only digital banking platform to operate exclusively in the cloud.

“Mambu’s growth journey has been very exciting, driven a lot by changes not just in tech, but also in customer expectations, as well as in how banks and financial institutions want to service their customers,” says Myles Bertrand, Mambu APAC Managing Director.

“Organisations had to go on a cultural journey as they embrace digital banking – it’s not just about the new technology, it’s a completely different way of thinking and offering services. That culture change piece has been vital.” – Myles Bertrand

“There’s a real sense of movement in the sector at the moment, with consumers demanding a personalised, faster, more efficient banking experience, and the banks having to make the investments and digitise their platforms to keep up with customer expectations.

“Incumbents face the choice of either fully embracing new digital technologies or being left behind if they fail to innovate,” Myles tells The CEO Magazine.

Myles Bertrand

The Mambu journey

Growth of digital banking

The company’s growth is driven both by the end consumer and the banks looking to move to next-generation technology that offer cloud-native services.

“We like to say that Mambu supports banking at the ‘speed of life’, which means we’re agile, responsive and flexible to changing market conditions,” Myles says. “That has been particularly relevant as we’ve navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.”

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the adoption of digital banking across the globe, and many banks and financial institutions have had to bring their digital transformation plans forward to remain relevant. “It’s been a learning curve for many organisations, but the industry is keeping pace,” Myles adds.

One of Mambu’s key strategies is to educate the traditional legacy banks. “Organisations had to go on a cultural journey as they embrace digital banking – it’s not just about the new technology, it’s a completely different way of thinking and offering services. That culture change piece has been vital,” Myles explains.

Financial inclusion

The other driver of growth are the regulators. Myles notes that regulators in Singapore and Malaysia are in the process of issuing a small number of digital banking licences, which will have an enormous impact on these markets – driving competition and putting customers at the centre.

“Traditional banks aren’t necessarily taking up these licences, they’re taken by corporates wanting to grow into the digital banking space,” he reveals.

“It’s forcing banks to speed up to keep up with the challengers, and the influx of new fintechs coming into the area is really shaking things up.”

“Incumbents face the choice of either fully embracing new digital technologies or being left behind if they fail to innovate.”

In Australia as well as in countries across the Asia Pacific region (including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines), there has been a great deal of activity around digital banking, with several neobanks – digital-based direct banks – launching in recent years.

Neobanks are posing a challenge to traditional banks as more customers lean towards the convenience of digital platforms.

The latest FDIC research indicates that neobanks strategically target the unbanked population and tech-savvy millennials with their cost-effective structures (no monthly fees, no withdrawal or overdraft costs), along with offering personalised customer experiences such as budgeting and money-tracking tools, and real-time balances.

“Digital banking will allow greater access to financial services for the unbanked and underbanked,” Myles notes.

“That’s the term used to describe huge segments of the population that have never had access to banking or any financial services before – greater financial inclusion for everyone is a key benefit of digital banking.”

Moreover, the company has seen several opportunities brought by digital banking for corporates.

“We’ve seen a trend with large telcos and insurers that are looking to offer different kinds of financial services to their client base,” Myles shares.

“When they adopt digital banking technologies into their business operations, they can suddenly offer their customers a whole new range of products and services. It can open and diversify their businesses.”

In the cloud

The way people bank is changing. Gone are the days of needing a bricks-and-mortar branch to provide financial services – customers can now do all of their transactions online.

“The investment required by corporates to become a ‘pseudo bank’ is minimal compared to what it once was,” Myles notes.

“It’s opening up the market. We’re finding that well-established corporates can create greater engagement with their customer base through the provision of digital banking services, leading to increased competition for traditional banks and financial institutions.”

Mambu’s platform is cloud-native – meaning it was built in the cloud – and can offer freedom, agility and speed to customers.

The company utilises ‘composable banking’, which allows customers to build the bank that they want from a selection of components, configuring and integrating components rather than having to undertake expensive coding and customisation.

“It’s faster, better and more cost-effective – what’s not to like? Being true SaaS also means that the Mambu platform is constantly improved, without any impact on the end user,” Myles says.

Future focus

Mambu will continue its focus on growth by committing resources and people into multiple markets, both across the Asia Pacific and globally.

Myles explains that the company will shortly be stationing General Managers into several sub-regions, including Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia, and has just appointed Kristofer Rogers – winner of The CEO Magazine’s Start Up Executive of the Year Award in 2019 – to head up the Australian and New Zealand operations. This will provide on-the-ground knowledge and help Mambu elevate its position in these key markets.

“We’re making significant investments in people and bringing in lots more resources to give us the coverage and knowledge that we need to support as many markets as possible,” Myles says.

“And we’ll also continue to have our single product focus, but make sure our platform can support any organisation looking to tackle the challenge of next-generation banking. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.”

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