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Embracing banking ecosystems – part four

This four part blog series explores the current state of banking ecosystems and discusses approaches to a future ready ecosystem strategy for banks. The first, second and third parts in the series discussed the ecosystem framework, banks’ roles in daily needs and life moments ecosystems, respectively. The final blog of the series examines the role banks can play in purpose driven ecosystems. 


While daily needs ecosystems and life moments ecosystems focus on the needs of an individual,  purpose driven ecosystems focus on a broader purpose and add services around the same. For instance, First Women’s Bank, a women-owned and women-led bank works towards advancing the role of women in the economy. The bank focuses on innovative lending solutions for women-led businesses and provides training, mentoring and networking programs for women entrepreneurs. 


Another fintech, Aspiration identifies itself as a green banking champion and offers innovative features around that theme (for example, planting trees for every transaction done). Similarly, companies such as Kinly (focused on black communities) and Daylight (focused on LGBTQ communities) address themes like inclusion and builds ecosystems around this purpose.


‘Lead’ in purpose driven ecosystems


Today, most banks in this space are neo-banks and fintechs that enable businesses to start with a clean slate and avoid conflicts with legacy and existing customers. For established banks, such an ecosystem makes sense when establishing a separate brand for an offering. A bank could experiment with this model on a small scale and apply learnings to its wider business.


‘Participate’ in purpose driven ecosystems


Banks align with these ecosystems to offer services to customers. In the case of Aspiration, as many as eight banks offer checking and savings accounts to customers. Similarly, there are opportunities to leverage this network to make credit cards, lending products and payment offerings available to customers.


‘Enable’ in purpose driven ecosystems


Banks offer their platform to service financial services transactions for such ecosystems. This allows orchestrators to focus on their purpose without taking on the burden of running a bank. As platform providers, banks could support innovative financial products and their integration with a wide variety of products and services.


For instance, the Coastal Community bank has provided its platform to multiple players, including Daylight and Fair, through its fintech division. Kinly relies on Bancorp’s financial services platform and brings in other components of the ecosystem like mentoring and financial education to consumers.

  Purpose driven ecosystems








Suitability for banks

Must-haves to engage


Vision and corporate commitment towards a purpose


Clear demonstration of a value proposition to sustain customer engagement

Flexible product configuration to churn out products that align with a purpose


A high brand value to add credibility to the ecosystem

An open platform with easy integration and a varied range of partners

Who’s doing it?



Coastal community bank and seven other banks offering savings accounts for Aspiration.

Bancorp (for Kinly)


As customers and businesses become more interconnected, ecosystems with myriad participants will emerge. The sooner banks acknowledge this market reality, the better placed they will be to lead, participate or enable. Ecosystems make it possible to present assorted banking products and services while leveraging multiple partners. Informed by a data driven understanding of customers, banks will be able to offer hyper-personalized services in the ecosystem model. The Bank as an Ecosystem (BaaE) approach will not only help banks capture customers’ wallets but also a share of the customer’s mind and heart.


The road to banking ecosystems is paved with bricks of technical maturity and operational agility. On the tech front, banks should leverage capabilities and data insights in the form of open APIs that quickly integrate into customer journeys. Adopting the ecosystem strategy will require banks to rethink and reshape their business models. More than technology transformation, this requires a bank to become a Modern Digital Business.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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