Near-Majority of US Banks Looking to Bolster Mobile Payments, Fintech Skills

August 9, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

If you’re amazed by the pace of development in mobile payments, then you’re not alone. I’ve been watching this market for years and it seems like there’s always something new cropping up. I’ve also noticed that the banks have been one of the biggest laggards on this front around. Starbucks has done more to advance mobile payments than some banks have, and when coffee shops are beating banks in financial technology (fintech), something’s wrong. A new study sent our way from Fraedom says that may not be the case much longer.

The Fraedom—a subsidiary of Visa—study notes that exactly half of US banks are out to improve their in-house technology operations. Just over a quarter—26 percent—are actively recruiting, while 24 percent are instead looking to partners to augment those skill sets.

Banks have some particular interests in that technology development, with 36 percent looking for technology risk analysts. Almost that same percentage, 34 percent, are looking for data scientists, and 24 percent are on the hunt for security specialists.

Yet banks are also looking to take better advantage of the talent they already have on hand. A full 70 percent of banks have changed their in-house training operations over the last five years, and 40 percent are also investing in external recruitment in that same time frame.

They’re not done yet, though; 32 percent of banks are putting greater emphasis on more and different internal training, 26 percent will be focusing on external recruitment, and 18 percent are poised to put completely new training schemes in play.

From here, it looks as if banks have picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the mobile payments and fintech community. For years, the market was dominated by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and smartphone makers, as well as individual retail concerns. After years of wondering why the banks weren’t stepping in, it’s clear they’re out to make up for the lost time.

The only question left to answer is if this is all too little, too late. With Google Pay, Apple Pay, Starbucks and others already holding the market pretty tightly—not to mention Zelle’s incredible success—it could indeed be too late for the banks to get involved.