London is the fintech crown jewel, says Wells Fargo
London is where it’s at, believes Bipin Sahni, head of innovation and R&D, Innovation Group, Wells Fargo. Fortunately, London and the European market are becoming a beacon of reference for other geographies trying to catch up.
FinTech Futures and a few other journalists had a private catch-up with Sahni at Wells Fargo’s offices in London, and Helene Alunni-Botteri, SVP of the bank’s Innovation Group.
Here, the executives told us about their heavy investment in start-ups and partnerships, which has sought to support companies from all around the world through their innovation programme.
However, London stands out: “I’m very impressed with the companies I have seen here, it’s buzzing,” Sahni said.
The Wells Fargo Start-up Accelerator programme launched in August 2014 and its first investment in start-ups outside the US was in 2016. When asked about the deployment timeframe for these APIs and features coming from these start-ups, he said that he can see these apps coming out to the market in four to six months’ time.
As a bank and a company that is offering a variety of applications, Sahni explained that the bank needs to adopt a platform model as much as it integrates into other platforms. The bank’s own API gateway is testimony, he said, of the bank’s willingness to partner, integrate and welcome a modular model in any direction.
“We are looking across all business branches, not just retail, or not just corporate,” Sahni added. “And to do this we seek companies that fit into our long-term plans, which at the moment are all about leveraging data.”
The executive told us that they are not a data company at all, but they see the benefits ultimately for the end consumer in being able to utilise data to tailor services for customers. From location data, to spending patterns, Wells Fargo is keen to incorporate technologies that can help employees, processes and customers.
Lastly, the exec added that they are even working with banks in non-competing geographies so they can share insights and tech for their respective business.
In the right direction
Wells Fargo has its core retail base in the US, where the landscape varies from Europe. However, Sahni is confident that Europe has set high standards for regulation, and that other geographies will be following it.
He praised the UK’s regulators work with UK companies, and added: “We see American regulators willing to get out there and discover what banks and technology companies are doing, so they can develop regulation to support that.” Despite whatever may be going on in the political area, the bank is confident regulators will move in that direction.
Wells Fargo executives at the event weren’t able to discuss the bank’s latest lawsuit regarding mobile remote deposit captures.