Frank Schwab, CEO of Fidor TecS, at Fidor Developer Day in London last year
Since Fidor Bank got its banking license in 2009, the online-only financial services provider has taken a bold approach toward banking and innovation. Rather than being a bank with a focus on technology, in many ways, Fidor is a technology company that happens to offer banking services.
This distinction is most evident in its corporate structure, where Fidor TecS, the division that focuses on software development, is actually a separate entity from the banking arm.
“Compared to traditional banking, we open up the whole work and aggregate functionality towards the customers,” Fidor TecS CEO Frank Schwab told Ripple Labs. “We’re a technology driven bank. We focus on the growing digital customers and digital enterprises userbases.”
But it’s more than just a digitally grounded focus on customer service, Fidor is challenging the status quo.
Ryan Terribilini, Head of Developer Relations at Ripple Labs, presents Ripple at Fidor Developer Day 2014
For one, it’s clear that Fidor has taken page from the playbooks of tech giants like Apple and Google. There’s an operating system, called Fidor OS, which anyone can license. There’s an API layer for the development community to build on. And, of course, there’s an app store.
“We are the first bank offering it this way,” Schwab said. “This is something completely new, similar to say, Ebay, Amazon, or PayPal. The only difference is that we are a full fledged bank with functionality for deposits, loans, overdrafts—you have exposure to the full financial program. Then there’s the additional applications and potential new products—such as Ripple, which allows us to offer real-time cross-border payments in any currency.”
And it’s this ability to build apps using the open API that is likely the most compelling part of the platform, enabling an unprecedented amount of creative freedom for developers building financial services. Beyond Ripple, there are already a number of standout applications, such as Smava, Germany’s largest online credit market, which allows investors to finance loans directly, ultimately passing on less cost to consumers.
In other words, Fidor has created the world’s first open banking platform.
“We’re coming at it from both sides by looking at the business and technological angles of what we can create,” Schwab said of the upcoming conference. “We want to demonstrate, from a business point of view, this new kind of model that we are enabling.”