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How Do Banks Interact with Fintech Startups?


  • Lars Hornuf
  • Milan F. Klus
  • Todor S. Lohwasser
  • Armin Schwienbacher


The increasing pervasiveness of technology-driven firms that offer financial services has led to growing pressure on traditional banks to modernize their core business activities. Many banks tackle the challenges of digitalization by cooperating with startup firms that offer technology-driven financial services (fintechs). In this paper, we examine which banks typically collaborate with fintechs, how intensely they do so, and which form of alliance they prefer. Using hand-collected data covering the largest banks from Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, we provide detailed evidence on the different forms of alliances occurring in practice. We show that banks are significantly more likely to form alliances with fintechs when they pursue a well-defined digital strategy and/or employ a chief digital officer. Moreover, in line with incomplete contract theory, we find that banks more frequently invest in small fintechs but often build product-related collaborations with larger fintechs.

Suggested Citation

  • Lars Hornuf & Milan F. Klus & Todor S. Lohwasser & Armin Schwienbacher, 2018. "How Do Banks Interact with Fintech Startups?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7170, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7170

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    2. Adey Tarawneh & Aisyah Abdul-Rahman & Syajarul Imna Mohd Amin & Mohd Fahmi Ghazali, 2024. "A Systematic Review of Fintech and Banking Profitability," IJFS, MDPI, vol. 12(1), pages 1-21, January.
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    4. Cappa, Francesco & Collevecchio, Francesca & Oriani, Raffaele & Peruffo, Enzo, 2022. "Banks responding to the digital surge through Open Innovation: Stock market performance effects of M&As with fintech firms," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 121(C).
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    7. Zack Jourdan & J. Ken. Corley & Randall Valentine & Arthur M. Tran, 2023. "Fintech: A content analysis of the finance and information systems literature," Electronic Markets, Springer;IIM University of St. Gallen, vol. 33(1), pages 1-21, December.
    8. Janina Harasim, 2021. "FinTechs, BigTechs and Banks—When Cooperation and When Competition?," JRFM, MDPI, vol. 14(12), pages 1-16, December.
    9. Dandan Dai & Yijia Chen, 2022. "The geography of the fintech industry in China: An analysis of China’s city‐level patenting," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 1907-1932, December.
    10. Gregor Dorfleitner & Lars Hornuf & Julia Kreppmeier, 2023. "Promise not fulfilled: FinTech, data privacy, and the GDPR," Electronic Markets, Springer;IIM University of St. Gallen, vol. 33(1), pages 1-29, December.
    11. Holzmayer, Florian & Schmidt, Sascha L., 2020. "Dynamic managerial capabilities, firm resources, and related business diversification – Evidence from the English Premier League," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 132-143.
    12. Francesca Bartolacci & Andrea Cardoni & Piotr Å asak & Wojciech Sadkowski, 2022. "An analytical framework for strategic alliance formation between a cooperative bank and a fintech start-up: An Italian case study," Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation, Fundacja Upowszechniająca Wiedzę i Naukę "Cognitione", vol. 18(4), pages 115-156.
    13. Sharina Tajul Urus & Intan Salwani Mohamed, 2021. "A Flourishing Fintech Ecosystem: Conceptualization and Governing Issues in Malaysia," Business and Economic Research, Macrothink Institute, vol. 11(3), pages 106-131, December.
    14. Klus, Milan Frederik, 2020. "From signalling to endorsement: The valorisation of fledgling digital ventures [Vom Signalisieren zur Unterstützung: Die Aufwertung junger digitaler Unternehmen]," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 3/2020, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.
    15. Wang, Yichen & Hu, Jun & Chen, Jia, 2023. "Does Fintech facilitate cross-border M&As? Evidence from Chinese A-share listed firms," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    16. Tianlei Pi & Haoxuan Hu & Jingyi Lu & Xue Chen, 2022. "The Analysis of Fintech Risks in China: Based on Fuzzy Models," Mathematics, MDPI, vol. 10(9), pages 1-13, April.
    17. Hodula, Martin, 2023. "Interest rates as a finance battleground? The rise of Fintech and big tech credit providers and bank interest margin," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(C).
    18. Xia, Yanchun & Qiao, Zhilin & Xie, Guanghua, 2022. "Corporate resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of digital finance," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
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    20. Campanella, Francesco & Serino, Luana & Battisti, Enrico & Giakoumelou, Anastasia & Karasamani, Isabella, 2023. "FinTech in the financial system: Towards a capital-intensive and high competence human capital reality?," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 155(PA).
    21. Ebrahim Mohammed Al-Matari & Mahfoudh Hussein Mgammal & Mushari Hamdan Alosaimi & Talal Fawzi Alruwaili & Sultan Al-Bogami, 2022. "Fintech, Board of Directors and Corporate Performance in Saudi Arabia Financial Sector: Empirical Study," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(17), pages 1-23, August.

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    More about this item


    fintech; strategic alliance; make; buy; or ally; entrepreneurial finance; banks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups

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