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Big Tech’s Invasion of Banking

Bron: Dan Murphy, senior associate Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets - 26 april 2019

Almost a decade after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, what keeps bankers awake at night is not regulation by Washington, but competition from Silicon Valley.

At first, competitors took the form of financial technology startups (fintech for short), whose avowed aim was to relegate the banks to the ash heap of history. Fintech startups ranging from LendingClub (credit) to Robinhood (securities trading) got the bankers’ attention, but did not concern them inordinately. After all, banks have significant advantages over fintech startups, such as preferred access to data and capital, not to mention the advantages conferred by the competitive moat of government regulation.

The real threat, the bankers are coming to recognize, is big tech, not fintech. Unlike fintech startups, firms such as Amazon, Google, Alibaba and Tencent have deeper pockets and better access to data than any bank. Most important, big tech firms have uniquely intimate relationships with their customers. These factors turn big tech’s lack of regulatory oversight into a competitive advantage, allowing them to operate on the margins of financial regulation at a much larger scale than a fintech startup.

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