Where are Europe’s most innovative digital banking markets?

Almost as a matter of routine now, the writer immediately thinks of Poland, Turkey and Spain as the most interesting markets to follow.

Poland’s Alior is a recent winner of RBI’s European Retail Bank of the Year; BBVA attracts almost universal respect for what it is doing digitally; witness Caixa Bank’s launch the other week of imaginBank.  

If you ever get the chance to visit Caixa Bank’s innovation lab, grab it.

Then there was the plethora of banks from Poland, Spain and Turkey shortlisted in the BAI Global Retail Delivery Show Awards in the US.

To quote no less an authority than Chris Skinner, who reported from the BAI bash:

“Poland, Spain and Turkey regularly appear, which reflects my view that these are the most innovative European countries for finance.”

Awards finalists from Poland included: Bank Smart, Millennium Bank and Idea Bank; from Turkey, Odeabank and Denizbank were shortlisted while la Caixa flew the Spanish flag for innovation.

By the by, the grand total of UK banks shortlisted across nine awards categories: zero.

So it makes perfect sense for the next Digital Banking Club debate, on 9 March, to discuss:

What can we learn about best practice from our European colleagues?

The debate will feature panellists from some of the most innovative and forward thinking banks across Europe:  ABankAliorCaixaBankand PKO as well as Italy’s CheBanca! 

No doubt there will be some excuses from UK-based attendees on the day as to why our home banks do not feature as prominently in global awards as one might like.

Legacy technology might well be mentioned as an issue and it is an arguable point; less convincing will be any attempt to explain away lack of UK innovation on over-regulation or a lack of competition.

Lack of funds? Pull the other one. Have you checked out just how much UK banks have to spend on technology in general and innovation in particular.

The current UK regulatory environment is much admired around the world and as for competition, just how many challengers and new entrants does one market need?

Next week’s Finovate event in London will demonstrate that the UK punches above its weight in terms of fintech innovation; hopefully in the short to medium term, UK lenders will feature as prominently when it comes to recognising innovation.