Individuals with entrepreneurial mindsets are often drawn to opportunities, innovation, and new value creation. Entrepreneurial characteristics include the ability to take calculated risks and accept the realities of change and uncertainty. One personality with such a marvelous mindset is Matthias Kröner, a leader in digital banking.
Starting his career in the hotel industry, Matthias gained a deep knowledge of customer service. With his entrepreneurial mindset, he founded Germany’s direct bank DAB in his thirties. He then ventured out when the company was sold, ultimately cofounding Fidor Bank in 2009. Fidor fulfilled the need for an open bank that valued transparency and gave voice to customers. Fidor was started with a unique community concept that enabled customers to increase their financial knowledge, share their skills, ask questions, review products, and make suggestions. Today, it is proud to count over 750,000 active community members, and has expanded its activities to create banks together with partners.
As CEO of both Fidor Bank and Fidor Solutions, Matthias drives all strategic decisions towards scaling and expanding the group internationally. Under his leadership, Fidor is continuing to flourish and has doubled its size year-on-year.
Focused Aim with Planned Journey
Matthias’s journey has always been centered around learning: what he can learn from his customers, what he can learn from his mistakes, and what he can do to keep his goals front of mind. Consequently, Fidor has adopted an agile culture whereby it’s always innovating.
When he established the bank, it needed to reach customers without the help of huge funds or marketing budgets. Therefore, the bank built a social media and digital marketing strategy around its community to build its own brand and reach customers in the most effective way.
With Fidor Solutions, the need was to develop in a way that promoted innovation. The bank selected its B2B partners carefully to focus on success. It now works with big names – whether they are corporations looking for solutions or partners complementing Fidor’s offering, from fintechs to large system integrators.
Forthright Business Approach
The bank gives customers the freedom to create. With this attitude, Matthias wants customers to manage their money through being able to do more, not less. He wants to give freedom and control back to the consumer, to create their own future, whatever that looks like to them.
This approach goes for businesses too. B2B customers should be able to create their own banks and not feel held hostage by their IT capabilities. According to Matthias, tech has grown so much over the past few years and is not showing any signs of slowing, hence, bankers must be able to better service their customers and focus on being an equal partner, rather than dictating terms.
Connecting Customers on a Personal Level
Matthias strongly believes in having a connection with customers. For that reason, Fidor aims to design solutions and offerings that are directly relevant to its community. The bank looks after such an approach and always welcomes feedback.
Talking about the vital attributes that every banker must possess, Matthias says, “A technologically-based mindset is essential. The reality is that, today, people don’t go to banks. They turn to their phones or tablets to bank online. So the question, and the challenge, is then how do we make this process frictionless and add value?” He further adds, “Whilst banking managers have been focused on numbers over the years, there is now a need to change. Leadership must now focus on creating the right culture to succeed. An agile structure that adapts to customers’ changing behaviors is a must”.
Customized Services for the Customers
Fidor creates technology that addresses the needs of its customers through its three robust pillars:
– Bank / customer co-creation: The bank works together with the customers, using its community as a platform. Customers share invaluable information and recommendations that drive the bank’s roadmap and design solutions that make an impact. Fidor is currently working on new features together, with its customers, in response to PSD2.
– Co-entrepreneurial spirit: The bank collaborates with other organizations to create new banking concepts, and with fintechs to drive innovation. This co-entrepreneurial spirit fast tracks the delivery of innovative solutions to customers.
– Cross-industry approach: Fidor doesn’t just work with banks, but also with retailers and telecom organizations to create business models focused on use cases and customer value for respective verticals. Its knowledge about the customers and their lifestyles is broad, and the convergence between banking and other industries means that consumers can more easily bank with purpose.
Solutions for the Future
Belonging to Europe as a home market, Fidor is growing and bringing solutions to its bank and non-bank partners, leveraging its EU banking licence. Outside of the EU, the bank focuses purely on technology and adapting itself to the respective needs of different markets. For example, the bank’s digital banking platform, fidorOS, is sharia compliant in the Middle East, where it is a mandatory requirement for one of its partners, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.
Consumer demands are evolving rapidly. As Fidor’s business model continues to evolve to meet these needs, the bank is focused on making consumers’ experiences better through its marketplace. This marketplace store gives consumers the opportunity to discover fintech and banking offerings they can trust, and help them build their wealth while enabling banks to innovate and diversify their offerings.