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Banks, in their traditional form, are increasingly struggling to keep up with the most recent innovations financial technology companies and startups are bringing to the market by the day. The legacy systems of banks are often the barrier to a holistic digital transformation strategy. There is one way that banks can react to this paradigm shift if they do not want to lose out on the increasing potential of the digital world: they must make fruitful partnerships with fintech companies; the sooner, the better.

Change happens so fast that a company either innovates or can easily find itself in a position that it might need to close shutters. There is no middle ground, nor there is time to waste thinking about a future strategy, as the disruption of fintech firms and technology is already happening. Mobile wallets are becoming the norm and millions of clients turn to cutting-edge technologies that allow bank accounts to be opened with just a few taps on smart devices and portables.

Dimitris Litsikakis, Global Head of Fintech at financial services provider deVere Group.

Meanwhile, Big Tech has also started flexing its financial services muscle. Apple recently introduced its first ever Apple Card, showing its appetite to turn into financial services as its next big opportunity. Google Pay and Amazon Pay are also pushing their own payment platforms, while Facebook has confirmed rumours about issuing their very own cryptocurrency: Libra Coin. Their huge reach and well-utilised big data can be considered a serious threat to banking as we know it, as such fintech firms can leverage loyal customers and possess a truly global reach that cannot be easily matched by traditional banking institutions.

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Up until today, fintech startups have been trying to disrupt banking with their innovative products and services. However, they have not been able to become particularly profitable as their immense growth has been fuelled not by earnings, but billions of dollars in funding from venture capitalists, who have been betting on future returns. At the same time, they have not been able to convince their clients to deposit large sums of money for two reasons. Firstly, they are seen as a secondary account used primarily when travelling or for fast international fund transfers. Secondly, emoney institutions (EMIs) cannot offer interest on deposits as the EU directive forces them to keep client funds on segregated accounts, not being able to reinvest them for business loans, for instance.

Partnerships in the air

The new era of financial services will see banks partnering with fintech firms for complimentary services. Instead of building their own product, banks can now outsource entire functions to more flexible startups that can deploy services in a much quicker and more efficient manner, while keeping the benefits of running it on bank rails, thus being able to protect client funds and provide interest. Therefore, deVere Group is among the first such companies that have grabbed this opportunity and can offer a fast go-to-market for mobile wallet implementation where speed is important.

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This revaluation led to the creation of the Vault app for iOS and Android users in Europe, while international expansion in Israel, Turkey and the Philippines is already underway. We believe that this is a unique winning strategy that will accelerate digital transformation in emerging markets by securing a super-fast go-to-market that brings significant competitive advantage to the group’s valued partners. With a network of more than 70 offices across the world, over 80,000 clients and $12b under advisement, deVere has the ability to drive change in this sector and provide its clients with cutting-edge support and solutions. As part of this focus, the group is constantly working to recruit the very best talent from across the world.

Another key aspect of the group’s offering is its crypto services, which were launched in 2018 as the trend for online currencies began to really take off. Today, deVere Crypto is a pioneering cryptocurrency app, available for Apple and Android. It allows users to store, transfer and exchange major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP and Litecoin.

The group also offers deVere Core, a solution that responds to the seismic shift in client expectations currently being experienced by the financial advisory industry. Increasingly, clients not only want bespoke financial advice from an adviser but they also demand personal instant access to their portfolio anywhere and at any time. They want all their financial services needs to be dealt with online, preferably via their mobile devices. They want to be more hands-on than ever before. As such, the group created the Core app, which provides immediate access, communication, and monitoring ability, to meet expectations in terms of customer experience.

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Overall, these developments will drive deVere Group to even greater success over the coming years and cement its position as a leader in the financial services and fintech. A testament to this investment is winning the “Most Innovative Financial Services Provider” at the FinTech Awards 2019, solidifying the group’s position into the fintech space.

BIO: Dimitris Litsikakis holds a BSc in Information Technology from Piraeus University and an MSc in Project Management from Lancaster University. He worked at IBM UK as a Project Manager delivering large-scale IT projects. He then joined Edenred Greece as Digital Transformation Manager where he led the entire digitalisation of the solutions offered by the company; issuing hundreds of thousands of prepaid cards to beneficiaries. In 2018, he was appointed Country Manager for Greece, Cyprus and Malta for Revolut. Now he is spearheading the digital transformation of deVere Group, a financial consultancy with a global presence, delivering fintech solutions. Since 2014, he has also acted as Athens Chapter Director for Startup Grind, which is an independent startup community actively educating, inspiring, and connecting entrepreneurs.

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Dimitris Litsikakis holds a BSc in Information Technology from Piraeus University and an MSc in Project Management from Lancaster University. He worked at IBM UK as a Project Manager delivering large-scale IT projects. He then joined Edenred Greece as Digital Transformation Manager where he led the entire digitalisation of the solutions offered by the company; issuing hundreds of thousands of prepaid cards to beneficiaries. In 2018, he was appointed Country Manager for Greece, Cyprus and Malta for Revolut. Now he is spearheading the digital transformation of deVere Group, a financial consultancy with a global presence, delivering fintech solutions. Since 2014, he has also acted as Athens Chapter Director for Startup Grind, which is an independent startup community actively educating, inspiring, and connecting entrepreneurs.