How can financial services organisations be more innovative and resilient? They need to remain future focussed, identify opportunities to build differentiated experiences, better manage risk and modernise core operations. At Microsoft, we are committed to helping our financial services customers  take advantage of this opportunity and this support extends further than just our organisation. The UK has a diverse ecosystem of fintech partners that can help the financial services industry achieve more. In fact, the UK has over 10 percent of the global market share in fintech. The sector is worth over £11 billion a year to the UK economy, making it a key part to our collective global competitiveness.

Fintechs are often cloud-native by design and therefore have agile architectures, making it easier for financial services organisations to leverage them and respond to changing market opportunities. In this blog, we’re going to uncover some of the top opportunities to drive innovation in the sector. Additionally, we’ll share practical ways to start building your future focussed strategy.

1.      Create differentiated customer experiences with data and AI

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One of the things that we’ve seen in the last year is a rise in demand for digital experiences. Customers want – and expect – great experience no matter the platform they’re on. It is also key to long term growth and customer loyalty.

One Microsoft partner helping financial service providers to better connect with their small business customers is Codat, who provides seamless integration to the leading financial data platforms, so banks can expedite the loan application process. Codat are innovating with organisations like Virgin Money, Atom Bank. They are expanding through partnerships with Visa, Plaid and Dynamics 365. SMEs will play a key role in our economic recovery moving forward. For many, their survival will depend on their ability to access funding.

At Microsoft we believe that client experience can be fundamentally transformed through the power of AI, a belief shared by our fintech fintech partner Abaka. Using a financial intelligence platform, Abaka helps provide customers with the right products, at the right time, through the right channels. It’s all based around hyper-personalised nudges and next best action recommendations. As a result, engagement, retention, product conversion and upsell has increased. Institutions such as HSBC, Prudential, OTP Bank, NatWest, St James’s Place are all leveraging Abaka technology to deliver services to their retail and wealth customers.

2.      Modernise core banking systems through cloud-native technology

Many institutions are modernising core banking systems through partnerships with new cloud-based core providers. This shift is due to the public cloud’s enhanced agility and ability to handle a high volume of transactions. At the same time, a modern core helps drive more personalised experiences through enabling real time access to wide data sources.

Whether launching greenfield banks or modernising existing cores – there are some excellent UK fintech partners that are well-positioned to help the industry innovate. Two UK Microsoft partners driving this trend worldwide are Thought Machine and 10x Future Technologies. These both scale rapidly to meet the increased demand for cloud-native cores. Also, they help organisations shift away from the cycle of expensive legacy technology. According to McKinsey, 65 percent of banks are exploring next generation platforms like these.

65% of banks are exploring next-gen platforms


3.      Deliver customer lifetime value with Banking as a Service

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The opportunity isn’t just limited to the financial services industry. In fact, any organisation can start to build financial products into their offerings through embedded finance. Partnerships with Banking as a Service (BaaS) providers are key in enabling this. They have the platforms and regulatory frameworks to enable non-bank customers to provide services such as bank accounts, payments, credit cards and lending. ClearBank for example, are using their extensive experience to offer access to their BaaS platform, and help organisations like Tide to increase their range of UK SME offerings.

Additionally, there are fintechs like Omnio who are helping financial and non-financial institutions, such as retailers and airlines, to transform the way consumers receive financial services. Omnio has helped the likes of EasyJet and An Post to embed white label financial products into their digital offering, helping to position these brands in the financial lives of their customers.

4.      Manage risk and build customer trust with data and automation

The use of Open Banking rose in 2020, with  4.3 million payments made using the system, compared to 230,000 in 2019. Open Banking is key to fintech innovation as it allows third parties to access consumer financial data to develop new, customer-centric services. It also allows banks to build an ecosystem of digital offerings. Many UK fintechs focus on Open Banking and automation to help keep customers safe and are choosing to host on Microsoft Azure.4.3 million payments were made with open banking in 2020

One example is Experian’s Open Data Platform, which gives organisations instant access to a customer’s financial information by using Experian’s comprehensive set of consumer and business credit services. Organisations can get a better picture of affordability, credit worthiness and financial wellbeing that is critical in protecting a financial institution and its customers. As well as managing risk, the platform also serves to build a more trusting relationship with consumers.

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Trade finance for large corporate and financial institutions is another example of where risk can be managed through innovative fintech. Demica have a powerful, intuitive platform that interfaces with corporate ERP systems to enable automated financing and powers the working capital programmes of the world’s leading financial institutions. The platform currently enables the financing of over $18 billion of assets worldwide and helps to manage financial stress and liquidity more effectively for its users.

Finally, substantial risk can also stem from the manual handling of data. This is another key reason why automation is on the rise, enabling financial firms to better tackle hidden operational risk and perform more accurate reconciliation. Xceptor is one such specialist in this sector, providing an no-code platform to deliver end-to-end automation of complex processes. Xceptor’s automation customers include Citi, HSBC and US Bank.

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About the author

George Tbb, a man smiling for the camera with brown hair and a beard.George works in the Microsoft UK partnership team, building strategic relationships with industry leading software vendors across Banking, Insurance and Capital Markets. He is the fintech guy and helps shine a light on the great impact the B2B Fintech ecosystem has on the Microsoft business and with customers. He also has a keen interest in technology-led sustainability, supporting the UK partner community on the carbon benefits of cloud computing.