Citi’s Ornit Shinar: Physical banking is not dying, rather it is adapting to change

Ornit, what are the top 5 innovation trends that transform the banking?

5. Digitization – it has been happening for the last few years and probably will continue for a few more.

4. Voice technology in various use cases.

3. Robotic Process Automation

2. Artificial intelligence enabling the development of new technologies that will transform the way the bank works.

1. Payments – from how you authenticate the user, to how you pay, payments space is being reimagined.


Does fintech pose a threat to the big banks?

Overwhelmingly fintechs are partners for the big banks. We each bring something to the table the other needs and in the last few years there has been a close cooperation between the two sides. Fintechs need banking licenses and go to market, they also need the breadth and customer network, the trust, the compliance with various regulations, the know-how … While the financial institutions need to modernize and innovate.


How are banks responding to the challenges from start-ups – by collaborating with them, by investing in them, by buying them out, competing with them or by developing their own models?

All of the above. There are many banks that invest in startups and commercialize their products. In 2018, there was an increase in acquisitions of fintechs by financial institutions. Banks constantly develop their own models but sometimes they find themselves competing with fintechs though it is not the threat people initially thought it would be. The majority of fintechs work with Banks rather than compete with them.


Is physical banking dying? Is there a role for the branch in the digital world?

Physical banking will change, rather than die. For the overwhelming majority of people, they want to be able to do everything from the comfort of their mobile screen and they will not go to the branch. That is not to say that this is true for all. What happens to people who do not want to, or cannot, work on the mobile. Banks will need to ensure these customers still have access to the branch, but that may be a person that goes to them, or through a smaller number of branches.

So I would not say physical banking is dying, but instead I would say it is becoming better adapted to the times and is set to offer consumers the best customer service they want.


Are consumers ready for the transformation?

Consumers are ready for some, cannot even begin to imagine others. Some of the changes we are seeing have happened intuitively and are growing exponentially, proof that the consumer is ready. Other things take a long time to adopt. This is usually a sure sign the transformation is either less well executed or the consumer is not ready yet. In the case of the physical branch, we think most people want it, but recently I saw an advertisement that said, “we are keeping our branches as you are entitled to a human touch.” I heard the campaign resonated with people…


Which do you think will be the main global fintech hubs in the next 5 years?

Hard to tell… the likely ones are Silicon Valley, NY, London… I am of course betting on Tel Aviv too. interview with Ornit Shinar, Head of Ventures Investment, Citi Israel by Detelina Kalfova, Editor, June 19, 2019

Read the interview in Bulgarian is a media partner of the InnoStart Forum 2019, organized by AmCham Bulgaria and the Israeli-American Chamber of Commerce.