Head of Direct Banking and Chief Digital Operations Officer
illimity is creating a new kind of banking experience that fits seamlessly around our customers’ everyday lives, empowering them with information and opportunities
In September, we announced a deal that will transform digital banking in Italy. Our agreement to become a 50 percent partner in HYPE, Italy’s leading fintech payments provider, creates a clear market leader that will cater for millions of customers of all ages.
Our existing brand, illimitybank.com, is one of Italy’s foremost digital banks. The HYPE joint venture brings 1.3 million additional customers and expands our proposition to include a stripped-down, “banking-lite” service that offers payments and cards. The breadth of our market coverage as a result of the deal is huge: illimitybank.com’s average customer is 44 years old, compared with HYPE’s typical age range of 18 to 35. illimitybank.com customers, meanwhile, have a deposit balance 20 times greater than the average HYPE customer.
Bringing together these two businesses will deliver enormous value for illimity’s shareholders. It is a unique combination made possible by the fact that both were built using the same cutting-edge technology—far superior to the legacy systems that traditional banks depend on.
Technology gives us the edge
In technology terms, illimitybank.com is much closer to a fintech such as HYPE than to any of our competitors among Italy’s old-style banks. We are both cloud-native organizations, built using APIs that allow us to integrate quickly and easily with external partners and deploying low-cost shared services to run our essential core operations.
This common approach to technology gives us massive advantages in navigating the digital transition of the banking market. It means the costs of running our technology infrastructure are a tiny fraction of those at a traditional bank. It enables us to build, refine and launch new services much faster than they can, constrained by decades-old technology. As we grow, it lets us scale our operations more rapidly and more flexibly than a conventional bank.
A unique position
Unlike traditional banks and their newer challengers, illimitybank.com has no branches—80 percent of our logins come from smartphones. But neither are we an app-only fintech. Our customers can speak to expert staff in our contact centers whenever they wish.
So we defy standard banking categorization. Instead, illimitybank.com spans the divide between conventional banks on one side and fintech disruptors on the other. We have the solidity, security and robust processes of a fully regulated bank, combining human expertise with the massive efficiency gains that digital technologies provide. And we have the ease of use and intuitive design that fintechs offer, bringing innovations from sectors such as telecoms, media and e-commerce into financial services.
This means illimitybank.com is ideally placed to benefit from the Italian banking market’s accelerating digital transition, a process that has been given huge additional momentum by this year’s Covid-19 pandemic. Crucially, it also means that by working with Fabrick—our joint venture partner in HYPE—we can lead Italy’s shift to the next generation of financial services based on Open Banking protocols.
Open Banking will change everything
We see huge potential in Open Banking. By allowing our customers to share their banking data through our apps and websites with other companies, this breakthrough gives them access to a huge range of new products and services. They can see all their accounts with different financial services providers on one screen without having to log into their bank account, use personalized tools to manage their money and analyze their spending, and discover and buy products and services from third parties.
Already, almost half our customers are using our Open Banking services, with around 40 percent taking advantage of the personal financial management tools that we provide. This is high by international standards and demonstrates the enormous value we deliver by presenting customers with the right data at the moments when it is most relevant for them, whether they are using a smartphone, website or contact center.
Open Banking technology allows us to do this, and its growing popularity with our customers highlights another truth about illimity—and the future of banking in general. Increasingly from here on, our customers will value us for the sense of control and simplification over their lives, and the insights we can bring them. Not just the banking products or services we offer. Banks are commodities. Data is personal and unique.
Our strategy for the ‘open future’
Our Open Banking services are set for major expansion over the coming quarters. We will use Open Banking to link illimitybank.com and HYPE customers directly to a growing range of products and services provided by third parties, within our own apps and websites. At the same time, we are working on exciting new projects.
Banking will undergo a transformation as Open Banking technology spreads. This will open up massive opportunities for banks that are positioned to succeed in the new environment—where banking increasingly becomes an “invisible enabler” embedded in other companies’ business models. People will still need banks and the products they provide. But the future of banking will extend far beyond the confines of any bank’s app or website to touch almost all our daily activities.
As this change unfolds, we will be ready.