Mar 2, 2021

Fintech behemoths Backbase and Zafin form new partnership

Joanna England
3 min
 Fintech behemoths Backbase and Zafin form new partnership
Canadian SaaS banking software service provider will collaborate with Backbase to integrate Zafin's solutions onto its platform...

Canada's leading relationship-based product and pricing capability solutions service provider, Zafin, has announced a strategic partnership with the Dutch banking engagement platform, Backbase.

According to reports, Zafin, which is one of North America's leading fintech companies, will join forces with Backbase to implement its spectrum of solutions onto the Backbase platform.

Both parties have said the partnership's conjoined solution is already globally available, is pre-integrated, cloud-ready, and turnkey.

Zafin was founded in 2002 and is a service provider for more than 30 top global banking institutions, including BNS, CIBC, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays. The cloud-native company was also awarded Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 Award three years running from 2014-2016 and was recently selected by American Banker as one of the top 10 fintech companies to watch.

The collaboration with Backbase is part of the company's strategy to expand its presence in the US and increase its customer base.

Meanwhile, Backbase is another well-established fintech. Launched in 2003, the company has the benefit of market experience on its side, as well as a strong, customer-centric philosophy.

Currently, the Backbase Engagement Banking Platform provides businesses with a one-stop-shop launchpad offers services to retail, corporate and wealth management and the SME sector. The company handles all aspects of commerce from digital sales to everyday banking and the platform's design provides a seamless, user-friendly experience.

Backbase has been lauded for its industry-leading services by industry analysts including Celent and Forrester. The fintech provides solutions for more than 120 financial institutions globally, including Citibank, Société Générale, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Discovery Bank and more.

Strategic fintech partnership

The collaboration will enable Backbase clients to leverage Zafin's products and offers with pricing optimised to each customer. This people-first approach is aimed at increasing the adoption of new products and services while growing lifetime customer loyalty.

The partnership also improves banks' abilities to provide personalised, tailored products, enabling them to increase their share of wallet among both retail and business banking customers.

Reports show that due to increased competition, banks must accelerate the speed of innovation and market agility to deliver personalised products and cross-channel banking experiences.

The Backbase-Zafin partnership helps banks move beyond current technological constraints, the traditional model wherein a single-core provider delivers an all-in-one solution, allowing them to innovate and execute, delivering the products, services and experiences customers expect.

Speaking about the partnership, Jouk Pleiter, CEO at Backbase, explained, "Backbase's Engagement Banking platform unburdens financial institutions by packaging all the best fintechs and capabilities in a single platform.”

He continued, “With it, institutions can access the latest, greatest and most innovative technologies without needing to manage multiple vendors. This new partnership with Zafin offers our clients yet another way to build hyper-personalized experiences for customers while helping to break away from the legacy systems that have historically slowed the pace of innovation, and we're excited to see our customers benefit.”

Al Karim Somji, founder and CEO of Zafin, added, “Banks of all sizes are locked in increasingly fierce competition for customers, and the Backbase-Zafin partnership offers institutions a leg up over those mired in outdated technology and processes. Through us, they can deliver deeply personalized experiences to their customers and respond quickly to evolving market needs – a key differentiator in this crowded space.”   

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Jun 17, 2021

Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem

3 min
FinTech Magazine holds a Q&A session with John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, on the evolution of banking and its future as an aspect of tech ecosystems

The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?

John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.

Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:  

Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?

It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started. 

While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk. 

Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand. 

I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.  

When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic. 

Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?

I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.

Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.  

The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC. 

I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives. 

Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss? 

Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement. 

Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.

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