Vertical Banking: Why Banking for the Niche Is a Growth Market

Imagine a bank. What does it look like to you? 

We assume that most of you reading this would picture it as a building. Perhaps with a sleek, dark blueish glass front. Perhaps with towering pillars reminiscent of classic empires. Definitely with ATMs and clerks giving out cash, taken from underground vaults.

But let’s be honest here: Nothing of that represents modern banking services. Since the introduction of online banking and smartphones, banking is no longer confined to a physical place such as a bank building. Banks become platforms: Nor more need for the branch offices of the financial giants. What’s more Open Banking initiatives make SME banking easier, leaving much room for the smaller, more focussed financial institutions. 

Those institutions are the domain of the so-called Vertical Banking. Providers engaging in this form of banking cater to a specific customer niche that larger financial houses and neo-banks don’t address as purposefully. But what do those niche banks look like and what role will vertical banking play in the future? 

We start with the basics. 

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A close-up photo of a dollar note, representing the traditional financial system and its history

The History of the Financial System

Introduction

trimplement co-founder Natallia Martchouk
trimplement co-founder Natallia Martchouk looks into the history of centralized finance.

We all are used to living in the world of centralized banks and institutions that govern finance – also known as the old economy in the crypto and fintech scene. In fact, many people cannot imagine that the financial system could work differently. They simply take this existing system as the given and best option. 

But is this the case? Or are there good reasons why there is a need for new paradigms like the growing new area of decentralized finance? Let’s talk about some historical milestones in the development of the financial systems of the old economy, before examining its disadvantages.

The Old Economy: History, Status Quo and Risks

Money Makes the World Go Round

Let’s start at the very beginning and go through some basic concepts. The financial story of humankind starts with the invention of money.

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A world map with a paper ship, symbolizing the world of payment.

Payment Around the World – Part 3

This article was published on April 30, 2019.

But since the payment landscape is constantly evolving, we wrote a new article based on research not available at the time of the creation of this article.

You can read the new article here. Please consult it, if you want an updated overview of payment methods around the world: 

A Voyage Through the World of Payment Methods: How Customers Pay

Enjoy your reading!


Asia, India, the Middle East

Payment around the world – where were we? In the previous articles of this series, we devoted ourselves to different payment landscapes of the globe. And with the trends and challenges, we found there.

But no matter which region we looked at: All of them stood on the verge of digital transformation or have crossed that line. China and the USA press ahead in terms of payment innovation, as we have seen in our second article. In other countries, digital payments are still in the process of taking hold in the populace. The changes they bring have already become apparent. Digital payment services play the role of an equalizer, especially for the unbanked people. Developments in Africa‘s and Latin America’s payment landscape, as detailed in the first article of this series, stand as an example for this.

We will see if those tendencies manifest in the last waypoints of our journey, too. So, let’s move on, shall we?  

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A picture of two piggy banks, symbolizing financial literacy and financial education in Germany

More Than Pocket Money – Financial Education in Germany

Financial education. It starts with simple questions. Just like this one:

For her 9th birthday, Emma asks her parents to put money on a savings account, instead of buying her presents. She rather wants to celebrate her next birthday in style, with party assets worth 200€. At a yearly interest rate of 5%, how many Euros must be put into the account to fulfill Emma’s birthday wish?

Sound familiar, such questions, right? We all had to answer a fair share of them in math class during 8th grade. Looking at them today, they still are tricky to answer for many of us. And you would have to explain your child, that putting €4000 on a savings account tears a big hole in your financial planning. And only under the premise that you would find a bank providing 5% interest on savings accounts. Which you wouldn’t. Emma, who already showed prudence in her financial behaviour not normally seen in her contemporaries, still has to face some hard truths.

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A compass resting on a world map, symbolizing the world of payment

Payment Around the World – Part 2

This article was published on April 15, 2019.

But since the payment landscape is constantly evolving, we wrote a new article based on research not available at the time of the creation of this article.

You can read the new article here. Please consult it, if you want an updated overview of payment methods around the world: 

A Voyage Through the World of Payment Methods: How Customers Pay

Enjoy your reading!


USA, Canada, Australia, China

When exploring the payment preferences of the world, you have to go places. In the first part of our article series, those places were Europe, Russia, Latin America, and Africa.

The takeaway: Hard cash dies hard in many parts of the world like Germany, Hungary, Russia, and Brazil. But digital payment services have taken up the fight. They give new options to emerging countries with vast numbers of unbanked people. Mobile access to finances and digital-only money accounts help integrate the unbanked, so they can become proactive contributors to the financial system.

But it’s a large world with a great number of payment landscapes still waiting to be sketched. In this article, we will take a good look at the clashing fintech forerunners USA and China, as well as Canada and Oceania. So, let’s go!

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A modern globe, symbolizing the world of international payments

Payment Around the World – Part 1

This article was published on March 11, 2019.

But since the payment landscape is constantly evolving, we wrote a new article based on research not available at the time of the creation of this article.

You can read the new article here. Please consult it, if you want an updated overview of payment methods around the world: 

A Voyage Through the World of Payment Methods: How Customers Pay

Enjoy your reading!


Europe, Russia, Latin America, and Africa

Since those times, worldwide payment habits have aligned with each other a bit. But technological disruptions have different impacts in different countries. And the global financial system cannot complain about a lack of disruptive tech.

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A computer screen displaying the word cybersecurity

Cybersecurity – A Big Deal for Fintech

We do a lot of things online.

We shop at online marketplaces. We rent movies at online video libraries. We manage our finances in online banking apps – all from the comfort of our homes. On the downside, criminals don’t have to stand up from their couch either, to rob your bank or steal your private data. Internet crime and assaults on cybersecurity occur in increasing numbers. Banking institutions are a popular target, as are their little, nonconformist peers: Fintech companies.

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A neobank building and an old bank building facing each other

Opinion: Neobanks vs. Old Money – How Traditional Banks Can Cope

Matthias Gall gives his opinion on how banks can cope with neobanks.

Times change. We thought we had already seen the Last Unicorn in the 1980s. But in the finance industry, the unicorns are alive and well. And what’s more: They keep multiplying. N26 is one of the latest additions to the herd. The German company acquired more than 300 million dollars in its most recent financing round. Now N26‘s company value is estimated at 2.7 billion dollar.

Good preconditions to shake the digital banking sphere to its very foundations. And the traditional banks? They rely on strategies that were last seen in the 80s, too. Although they have the potential to do much more.

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