Is the ‘Greenfield Approach’ digital transformation at its very best?

January 22, 2019 11:48 am


As digital technologies change how people live and work, financial services firms need to choose how they will adapt to a broadly reordered marketplace.

To stay competitive in their existing core businesses, financial service incumbents will need to invest in digital transformation much more deeply than they have previously in order to realize dramatic cost reductions. However, retooling existing businesses for digital efficiency will not in itself create shareholder value. Competitive pressure will mean that most cost savings are ultimately passed on to customers. Digitizing incumbents’ existing businesses, if done well, will preserve shareholder value, but not increase it.

Incumbents looking to grow shareholder value will need to build and sustain new competitive advantages

The next big wave of innovation in financial services will be driven by incumbents starting with a blank canvas, according to Oliver Wyman’s 2019 State of Financial Services report titled “Time to Start Again” launched today at the World Economic Forum Annual Global Meeting in Davos.

Read: 3 Lessons for every CIO launching a digital transformation journey

The report describes an emerging new approach – “Greenfield” – where existing firms break free from the constraints of their legacy systems, business, and talent models. It is based on new subsidiaries, new technology, and new customer solutions.

“For an industry whose product – the movement and storage of money – is electronic, the processes are still far too manually intensive” said Ted Moynihan, Managing Partner and Global Head, Financial Services, Oliver Wyman. “Established firms will look to free themselves from the shackles of their legacy infrastructure and embark on future journeys unencumbered.”

Examples are beginning to be rolled out. RBS Group will soon launch Bó, a greenfield digital offering, built with new technology in under 12 months. National Australia Bank (NAB) has had success with QuickBiz, a fully digital unsecured lending solution, and German insurer ERGO has built Nexible as a challenger to its existing auto-insurance business. Goldman Sachs launched Marcus in the US and Europe, allowing it to enter consumer banking.

Read: Going Beyond the Buzz in 2019—Understanding ‘Digital’

The Power of New

Digital challengers are providing the inspiration and motivation for existing firms to embark on new builds. South Korean digital bank Kakao attracted 6 million signups in less than a year. Monzo, Revolut, and others in the UK grew their customer base from 0.6 to 2.5 million customers in a year. In the US, Chime has opened more than 2 million no-fee transaction accounts. In the foreign exchange market, XTX gained 10 percent market share in just three years, making it the second-largest player in 2018.

Some of these businesses may not yet be profitable, but over time the digital challengers and greenfield businesses will use what the report calls “flywheel momentum,” collecting more data, developing new propositions with that data, and attracting more talent.

Enter Existing Financial Services Firms

 To be successful in the future, financial institutions need to have the same advantages as digital challengers. For example, the average number of customers each person in a challenger bank serves is over 2,500, compared to 1,000 in existing banks. Digital challengers launch new products or services in two weeks, compared to three to six months release timetables for traditional firms.

Greenfield is an attempt to deliver a customer offering to match or exceed the challengers. Using modern technology, an open platform, and third-party services, new banking and insurance platforms can be built within a year, at a cost of between $10 million and $60 million. Financial services firms will hope to outcompete fintechs with greenfield platforms, while having the advantage of tremendous resources and an existing customer base from day one.

In the process, the new greenfield businesses will help catalyze and drive change across the organization. “The new will transform the old and create a better financial system overall”, concluded Moynihan.

Read 2019: The year of the data-driven digital ecosystem

The Oliver Wyman Time To Start Again report is available here.

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 50+ cities across nearly 30 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation.

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AMEinfo Staff
By AMEinfo Staff
AMEinfo staff members report business news and views from across the Middle East and North Africa region, and analyse global events impacting the region today.



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