Collaboration and culture clashes
“In terms of fintech development, Taiwanese financial institutions have been focusing on enhancing their user experience during the past year. Local institutions lag the top players globally regarding research and development,” says Luke Han, chief operating officer of Pi Mobile Technology, a subsidiary of Taiwanese e-commerce company PChome.
“Many banks here are actively recruiting fintech talent, mainly in an attempt to incorporate more AI in their operations,” he adds, noting that the AI technology is largely used in marketing and risk management.
Fintech companies are now playing a part in the domestic financial sector, either via collaboration with financial institutions or operating independently.
Pi Technology has been gaining market share in the mobile payment sector by leveraging PChome’s client base and partnering with banks. First launched in 2015, Pi Technology’s Pi Mobile Wallet has been used with CTBC and E.SUN banks. The company’s latest collaboration is the E.SUN Pi Wallet credit card, which was rolled out last August with E.SUN.
But as a fintech company, it is not always easy to work with conventional banks. Even though E.SUN’s management
is one of the most open-minded in Taiwan, there was still a corporate culture clash, according to Han. “The employees at E.SUN Bank wear uniforms to express the company’s culture, which is rare in the Taiwanese banking industry,” Han says, noting this as one aspect of the corporate culture that fintech players can’t understand.
On the E.SUN Pi Wallet credit card project, E.SUN tended to be more cautious about new ideas. “This is the first credit card on which E.SUN has not included the credit card number, and we suggested that E.SUN use a colorful design for the card. For E.SUN, these are things that need to be discussed and communicated internally,” says Han.
Financial institutions are more likely to collaborate than compete with fintech companies, yet often struggle to interact effectively with the faster-paced, less structured fintech sector, a Deloitte survey states.
However, the charm of partnership is about enhancing mutual understanding. Through more partnerships like this, the industry is expected to see the cultural gap between the two types of firms lessen.