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Embracing banking ecosystems – part three

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 and second parts of this blog series discussed the ecosystem framework and the roles banks play in daily needs ecosystems, respectively. Part three of the series examines the role banks can play in life moments ecosystems.


Life moments ecosystems focus on a specific need and address the exigencies centered on that need, like buying a house or funding a need for higher education. Life moments are few and far in a customer’s lifetime. While daily needs ecosystems focus on fulfilling every day needs of customers like making grocery payments or paying for a mobile recharge, life moments ecosystems focus on low frequency, high value customer transactions.


‘Lead’ in life moments ecosystems


Banks have orchestrated several such ecosystems to align with their revenue streams and strategy. For example, since mortgage is a big source of revenue for banks, many banks invest time and effort in building ecosystems to facilitate the process to buy a home. In such systems, banks bring together different players and act as a platform provider for home loan requirements. A third party with the required capability helps customers search for property or acquire legal assistance. 


Similarly, banks have also built ecosystems around areas like business services, automobile purchases, higher education and health services.


For example, DBS Singapore, not dissimilar to other banks around the world, has heavily invested in this space and has launched as many as six marketplaces in the last five years, covering travel, education, cars, property, health services, and electricity. The increasing adoption of IoT and digital payments will only open up other interesting possibilities in the expansion of existing ecosystems.


‘Participate’ in life moments ecosystems


In bank-led ecosystems, banks have been the sole content provider for banking services while relying on one or more third parties to provide ancillary services. Banks can now also look at onboarding non-competing players to provide products and services for customers to be able to benefit from a wider range of offerings. For example, in a housing ecosystem, a bank could onboard sub-prime lenders to cater to customers who do not qualify for a loan from the host bank. 


Banks have also participated in ecosystems led by third parties to offer their products. We mentioned how banks have orchestrated ecosystems for mortgages. Similarly, banks have also participated in ecosystems established by property listing firms to offer their lending products. Leading property search sites, such as Zillow (US), Realtor (US) and Magicbricks (India), offer a marketplace for home loans to ensure their offering is embedded in the customer journey.


‘Enable’ in life moments ecosystems


For bank-led ecosystems, banks act as the primary platform provider. Banks have also enabled platform integration with multiple third parties through APIs to provide a seamless experience for customers. These integrations are expected to increase, as the depth and breadth of the ecosystems increase. Investments and initiatives in data analytics for customer insights and loyalty programs will be required to bring greater value to ecosystem participants.

 Life moments ecosystems








Suitability for banks

Must-haves to engage


Sizable customer base at the appropriate life moment


Marketing capabilities to tap customer intent

Expertise on one or more components of the life moment journey


Partner integrations to prevent leakage

Technology to ensure a smooth handshake amongst partners 


Workflow management for accurate partner identification

Who’s doing it?


IDFC First Bank has launched ‘First Uni’, an education ecosystem Numerous top banks participate in the Zillow Group marketplace for mortgages

DBS supports eight marketplaces from its platform


A robust data culture within the bank is imperative for such ecosystems to thrive. Through internal data sources and the data gathered from partners banks, holistic value propositions can be offered through life moments ecosystems. These ecosystems reduce the customer acquisition costs for banks and partners and diverse organizations, coming together, makes it possible to create new offerings that are otherwise not possible when these companies work independently. 


In the final blog in this four part series, we explore purpose driven ecosystems – the newest addition to the ecosystem world.

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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