Fintech forces banks to be better: Elliott

If you think about what banks do, it's actually really simple. We really only have two resources: great people and technology.

" Around the globe, banks have largely taken their customers for granted. We've allowed fintechs to come in and improve the customer experience."
Shayne Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, ANZ

Banking is essentially about using these two things to continually improve the customer experience we offer. To make it easier to engage with the bank, to make it something people want to do.

 In the old days the only way banks could do that was by having great people. They smiled and they understood you as a business and as an individual. Today, we need to keep all that but more and more it's moving to the other side, which is about using technology to be engaging.

Around the globe, banks have largely taken their customers for granted.  We don't always treat our customers with the respect they deserve, we don't think like them and we don't think ahead. So we've allowed fintechs to come in and pick off opportunities to improve the customer experience.

From my perspective that's not necessarily a bad thing as it keeps us on our toes. We have to learn from it.


So at ANZ, what we're doing is embracing that. We like to think of ourselves as a relatively small bank – we're the smallest of the big four and we can use that as an advantage. We want to think small and take the opportunity be the disrupter. Part of that is about innovation.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Photographer: Daniel Haynes

Our size means we can afford to be a disrupter and we have been. We were the first to launch GoMoney, among other things. Are we doing enough? No. So the question is: how do we do more?

It comes down to the quality of our people. People who are technologically literate, who are curious and who sense what is going on in the world - not just about tech but about social change and what's going on in the community and how to translate that into a better customer experience.

As a big four bank we tend to compete amongst ourselves but in terms of customer experience, we don't at all. In that area we compete with the likes of Uber, Amazon and AirBnB. They're the companies defining what good business looks like in terms of customer experience: they are always on, have transparent pricing, have predictive capability and effectively utilise big data.

So customers look at them and say “well that's a great experience buying a book and booking a cab. Why can't that be the experience when transferring money, or getting a mortgage?"

That's what ANZ has to work on. It's not going to be easy but I'm confident we can do it, internally and in partnership with others like fintech groups.


I see the future of fintech and the many fintech disruptors in two ways. I grew up in the 90s and was there during the tech boom. I saw the excitement, I saw the hot money go in and I saw it all fail. So a part of me sits there and thinks, well is it happening all over again? That's one side.

I have to say the majority of my view though is on the other side. That side says this is real, this is coming our way and as an industry we need to be paranoid. We need to be scared, we need to be worried and it's going to keep us on our toes.

Those two views dictate a lot of what we do at ANZ. We have a real business to run, we're a big company, we have millions of customers we have to service. But we also have to transform ourselves for the new world, which is really where the difficulty is.

I think in the end, there's space for all of us, both big banks and fintech disruptors in the market. Banks don't have to be everywhere in the value chain.

There will always be a customer place for new players, where fintech works for them and it's a place incumbents be able to serve very well. As a big bank we have to learn that's ok and keep our focus on what we know we can achieve.

Shayne Elliott is CEO at ANZ. This is an edited transcript of a discussion held at a Fintech Melbourne Meetup in early February.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

editor's picks

31 Mar 2015

Fintech and crowd funding, inflating the next bubble?

Andrew Cornell | Past Managing Editor, bluenotes

Disruption, particularly in financial services, is one of the hottest investment themes going.

19 Jan 2016

Fintech surges - to tiny shares

Andrew Cornell | Past Managing Editor, bluenotes

Even as global equity markets have plumbed depths not seen since the financial crisis, investor appetite for start-ups, particularly in the financial technology – 'fintech' – space has remained near insatiable.

22 Jan 2016

APAC geeks dominate fintech uptake: study

Shane White | Content Manager, Institutional, ANZ

Digital-savvy consumers in the Asia-Pacific region are more likely to adopt new financial technologies than their peers around the world but the same consumers in Australia are lagging below their Asian neighbours, a new study has found.