February 04, 2021

Is the future of banking, open? And will open banking reshape the world of finance?

My guest today has the answers. She is Susan French, head of Products at BBVA’s Open Platform. BBVA, the global bank headquartered in Spain, has long been ahead of the curve in technology innovation in general, and in open banking specifically.

“Open banking” is about the movement to make bank accounts easily connectable to other services through API’s. It takes a lot of forms, driven by the wide variety of problems that API connections can solve, for both consumers and providers.

The phenomenon has evolved differently in Europe vs. the United States. Susan explains how the European version has been driven mainly by the PSD2 regulatory mandates that enable secure flows of data, while BBVA’s U.S. program is mainly a banking as a service (BaaS) platform driven by consumers wanting banking to be easily integrated with whatever they do. She thinks the two models will increasingly converge, with the US market experiencing more regulatory “push,” and Europe feeling rising “pull” from consumers.

In our conversation, she argues that now is the right time for banking as a service to surge, especially since the pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing movement toward customer adoption of digital banking. People increasingly expect seamless interaction between their banking and their lives.

We talked about how the US move toward real-time payments will change the market, and Susan’s view that the winners will be whoever best comes to grips with fraud management, since the faster the money moves, the faster the fraud happens (and the same for AML). We talked about the potential role of cryptocurrency, stable coins and central bank digital currencies in faster payments. We talked about how real-time payments may divide the world into distinct categories in how they interact with money -- and she describes what those are. And of course, we talked about her advice for regulators -- both state and federal -- on challenges they will face, and how to meet them.

More on Susan

Susan leads the design and development of Open Platform’s groundbreaking suite of white-label, banking-as-a-service APIs in the US. She is an expert in payment, digital commerce and financial services, focused on understanding what fintech companies navigating this landscape want from an API platform. Susan has been working in the financial services sector for more than 25 years, most recently leading the team that created and launched Visa’s Developer Program, a suite of APIs that opened up Visa’s network to all developers, from startups to large financial institutions. A former CTO, Head of Enterprise Architecture and Technology Strategist at Visa, Susan also worked as Chief Operating Officer at Euphorion, a website design and development startup in Silicon Valley, in addition to starting her own independent consulting business.

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We have some great shows coming up including Maria Gotsch of Partnership Fund, Mike de Vere and Teddy Flo of Zest, Pindar Wong of VeriFi, Rob Nichols of the American Bankers Association, and Sharmista Appaya and Ivo Jenik of the World Bank and CGAP.

I would love for you to join me at upcoming speaking engagements, including at virtual South by Southwest with Cleve Mesidor and #ACCERATERegTech2021 in March. I’ll also be speaking at both Harvard University and the US Treasury in February, and in April at the ACAMS international conference and LendIt.

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