Jean de Crane
Jean de CraneCEO

High demand for innovation in the fintech market

How Isabel Group responds to trends

You don’t become a market leader and stay a market leader unless you have your finger permanently on the market’s pulse. That is why we will be doing another market survey later this year. The goal of the study is also to take stock of the most important trends in the Belgian fintech sector. Listening actively enables us to better evaluate your needs and desires and adjust our range to suit you. We hope we can count on your participation again!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Instead let’s start by taking a closer look at the most striking Fintech trends and expectations from our surveys in 2018 and 2019. You will soon see that we cannot ignore the high demand for innovation in the Fintech market. No fewer than four out of five respondents (80%) last year expected their Fintech partner to proactively come up with innovative ideas. In our survey in 2018, the percentage was even higher, at 95%!

Therefore, the final conclusion of our market research in 2018 still holds true in 2019: the ideal Fintech partner sets itself apart from the rest by acting proactively and innovatively. That makes it increasingly an extension of your own organisation: not just because it can take certain tasks off the organisation’s hands, but also – and especially – because it can give you a clear view of your business from a new angle.

Innovation as a corporate value

What is striking here is that the respondents in last year’s survey saw us as a player that is constantly putting new ideas onto the market, even more so than in 2018. Obviously this perception didn’t come out of nowhere. It is rooted in a concrete business reality.

We invest almost a third of our income in developing and improving our product range. There is also a special innovation process that runs right through our organisation. Additionally, we ask our colleagues to question the status quo and view it critically, doing away with it where appropriate. We stimulate them to share their ideas with their colleagues and management. And because innovation isn’t something you do on your own, we also count on our extensive ecosystem of partners to help us with it.

PSD2 brings open banking and open accounting

In each of our surveys, we also asked our respondents about how they used one or more functionalities, for automating and digitising their processes, for example. It turned out that Fintech players are becoming increasingly important, as we learned from our 2018 survey. The 2019 survey confirmed that.

All the same, we have noticed a significant shift: the most used functionality, which is also the fastest-growing (from 36% to 58%) is now the open banking API (Application Programming Interface) in the context of the new European Payment Services Directive (PSD2). Simply put, an API is a set of definitions that enables programs to talk to each other.

We took over the API aggregator Ibanity, a start-up targeting the developers of financial services, in 2017 with the precise aim of responding to that growing need for open banking APIs. That takeover enabled us to increase the quality level of our API range, which now includes Isabel Connect, CodaBox E-invoicing and Ponto Connect. We also considerably extended the level of documentation for the developer community.

Incidentally, Ibanity also scored very highly for reputation in the surveys in both 2018 and 2019. 59% and 70% of respondents respectively indicated that they were familiar with our solution. That is good news for us, because it acknowledges our innovative role in the market.

A digital business identity

According to the 2019 survey, the most promising concept for the future is digital business identity. For banks, this translates into the Know Your Customer (KYC) policy. Banks are using new technologies increasingly often to make the process of verifying customer identity simpler and enable new customers to be onboarded more quickly and easily.

At Isabel Group, we launched KUBE (Know Your Customer Utility for Banks and Enterprises) at the beginning of this year: an innovative solution based on blockchain technology that speeds up and simplifies the KYC process for banks. We developed KUBE along with the four largest Belgian banks, Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING Belgium and KBC. In the future, other banks will also be able to join the platform.

Soon we will be adding a second pioneering solution for business identity: TruliUs. TruliUs is an administrative digital platform where company leaders and businesses can create business profiles for their staff, allocate powers and signatory authorisations to them within the context of the organisation and share this information, if they wish to, with partners and suppliers who are also connected to the TruliUs ecosystem.

Positive image

Last but not least, a systematic annual questionnaire of this kind also teaches us how the Fintech market sees Isabel Group. One welcome conclusion is that our image has evolved positively over the last few years, as has our reputation. As Belgium’s largest Fintech player, Isabel Group is still a benchmark in this rapidly changing growth market. We owe that unique position to our people, experience, reliability and partners, but also – as we explained above – to our flair for innovation.