Fintechs and Financial Institutions: Together Forever?

In the early part of this decade, fintechs were viewed by some traditional financial institutions as barbarians at the gate, eager to take customers away. Fintechs, for their part,  frequently talked about “disrupting” the financial industry and doing things digital-first, not being held back by legacy technology or processes.

But as the decade winds down, the two sides have become more like starry-eyed lovers in a sappy romantic comedy. Indeed, the last few years have seen the rise of fintech partnerships, or increasingly outright acquisitions of fintechs by traditional players.   

"Brand and scale matter,” says Dan Schleifer, co-founder and CEO of ChartIQ, a fintech firm. “No VC-backed start-up is going to take down Goldman or JPMorgan, or even make a dent in their bottom line. However, the ideas and technology incubated in these nimble start-ups, deployed at scale through legacy institutions, can have a huge impact for both banks and start-ups."

At this point, are fintechs even seen as competitors anymore? Not to most financial institutions. A survey released in March by found that just 6.5 percent of surveyed FIs said they considered fintech firms to be their competitors. So, are FIs and fintechs going to play nice from here on out? Or should traditional players be concerned that there are still some relative upstarts trying to move in on their business? Only time will tell.