Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Wall Street catching up to fintech revolution

So much fintech opportunity in Europe: Expert

Big banks are battling to get ahead of the technology disruption unfolding in the banking industry, with financial technology startups turning into red hot investments.

According to industry watchers, investors are pouring tens of billions of dollars into the sector, with more to come.

"Some of the world's major financial centers are equally becoming known as centers for FinTech innovation," Toby Heap and Ian Pollari, Partners at H2 Ventures and KPMG, financial technology service firms, said in a statement that accompanied a report listing the top 100 global financial technology leaders in 2015. "Fintech is clearly not to be ignored."

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Major banks are doubling down on adopting new technology for tech savvy consumers. Bank spending on new technologies was predicted to amount to $19.9 billion in 2017 in North America, according to The Statistics Portal.

"Customers now want to interact with their bank whenever they want, however they want, and wherever they want, and to be able to shift seamlessly between channels." said a global banking outlook study from advisory firm EY.

Pedestrians walk in front of the JPMorgan Chase headquarters building in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

North American banks are expected to work on meeting demand for mobile products, engaging with disruptive new entrants in financial services, and securing their systems.

JPMorgan Chase is one firm that will benefit from the wave of financial technology disruption, according to an Autonomous Research survey.

This firm has seen mobile platform expand in recent months. At the end of the third quarter in 2015, the company had the largest mobile banking base of more than 22 million customers. JPMorgan became the first bank to top 20 million mobile users earlier this year.

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In November, the company teamed up with 18 technology partners to help merchants accept Chase Pay, which was launched in October. In a year-end memo to employees, JPMorgan Chase investment bank head Daniel Pinto said internal technology projects will be a major priority next year. That includes blockchain—a public ledger for Bitcoin transactions—big data and robotics.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase isn't the only company making moves.

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Citgroup CEO Michael Corbat said at Citi's 2015 annual meeting that companies such as his are making "considerable progress toward strengthening the foundational pillars of the firm," including technology.

Citigroup earned a patent for the delivery of banking services to remote devices — personal computers, data assistants and mobile devices. Additionally, the firm has launched a new unit called Citi FinTech, focused on improving mobile banking experiences.

The company has hired Carey Kolaja, the former vice president of global consumer products at PayPal who now serves as Citi FinTech's global chief product officer.

The most recent Citi FinTech Meetup was focused on how millennials are disrupting the wealth management industry. The company also launched Citi Mobile Challenge, a way for individuals to re-imagine mobile banking.

But Wall Street's adoption of technology doesn't just stop there. In recent months, there's been a migration between Silicon Valley and banking, underscoring how the latter is becoming a talent pool for the industry's heavy hitters.

Tech companies such as Apple have been recruiting from the financial services industry. For example, Gail Hodges, the former global head of digital payments for HSBC, joined Apple Pay Business Development In June 2015. In March 2015, Amit L. Parikh decamped from Discover Financial Services and joined Apple Pay.

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