Two of the business models most talked about in recent months because of their disruptive nature with respect to the other actors in their sector have been Uber and Airbnb. In contrast, it doesn't seem that this will happen in short term with a bank brand or platform. And this is precisely why they should attract the attention of the members of that industry: both companies represent several growing trends in the world of 2.0 services: customer focus, social, in the cloud, mobile, etc.
Both brands have been able to take advantage of a new consumption paradigm, the collaborative economy, that represents a new social contract between user and company, and a new way of meeting the former's needs.
But, what does all this have to do with banking?
Many analysts believe that financial services are increasingly becoming 'commodities', i.e. services with a wide offering and limited differentiation. Faced with this, the new companies offer a 'story' that induces a sense of belonging and community. Being a user of those services has little to do with visiting one of the thousands of real estate agencies or bank branch offices, which are indistinguishable from each other: in contrast, using these apps enables us to connect to other users, increasing the brand's value in the process.
“There is a real risk that banks will stop being the main source of finance for personal loans and small businesses. [...] Crowdfunding platforms could evolve naturally and become the main source of financial services for the new generations [...]. It is a disruptive technology for the banking industry with the potential to take the place of banks as the main source of finance for individuals and small businesses”.
But banking doesn't only have to learn from the new giants in other sectors. New actors have been growing around them in recent years, until now small and ‘ignorable’, but which could be exhibiting a surprising capacity of adaptation and growth.
For example, P2P loan services are no longer limited to small advances or consumer finance. Projects such as Social Finance have burst into the student loan segment (with 1.3 billion dollars in refinanced loans) and for first home purchases (already in October 2014 it announced that the one billion financed loans barrier had been overcome, becoming the operator that most quickly reached that figure). Meanwhile, Funding Circle (an online marketplace that enables savers to lend money directly to SMEs in the United Kingdom) has already lent nearly 509 million pounds to 5,000 companies.
In its report ‘The Sharing Economy’ (PDF), the European Commission's Business Innovation Observatory has warned that “the peer-to-peer loan market will become an economy parallel to that of conventional banking” and says that conventional banking will also have to ”adapt to the changing needs of its clients, presenting its own online platforms. Customers want more control over their money and want to be able to determine under what conditions they acquire or provide a loan”.
In this regard, the report highlights the P2P loan platform Fixura, pointing out that “the administrative burden, whether to grant a loan or to acquire it, is low compared to conventional lending systems. In addition, it enables consumers to arrange everything conveniently from home. Also, unlike the users of conventional investment or lending systems, the borrowers and the lenders can set their own terms and conditions”. It also says that the automation, when it comes to matching them without the need for the involvement of the platform's employees, reduces the costs significantly.