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Is the Rise of Financial Digital Disruptors Knocking Traditional Banks Off the Track?

International Banker, June 2016

9 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2016  

Constantin Gurdgiev

Trinity College, Dublin; Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS)

Date Written: June 13, 2016


The long-term fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis created several deep fractures in traditional-banking models. Most of the sectoral attention today has focused on weak operating profits and balance-sheet performance, especially the risks arising from the negative-rates environment and the collapse in yields on traditional assets, such as highly rated sovereign and corporate debt. Second-tier concerns in boardrooms and amidst C-level executives relate to the continuously evolving regulatory and supervisory pressures and rising associated costs. Finally, the anemic dynamics of the global economic recovery are also seen as a key risk to traditional banks’ profitability.

However, from the longer-term perspective, the real risks to the universal banks’ well-established business model come from an entirely distinct direction: the digital-disruption channels that simultaneously put pressure on big banks’ core earnings lines and create ample opportunities for undermining the banking sector’s key unique selling proposition — that is, security of customer funds, data and transactions, and by corollary, enhancing customer loyalty. These channels are FinTech innovations — including rising data intensity of products on offer and technological threats, such as rising risks to cybersecurity. This two-pronged challenge is not unique to the banking sector, but its disruptive potential is a challenge that today’s traditional banking institutions are neither equipped to address nor fully enabled to grasp.

Keywords: Fintech, Innovation, Banking, Bank, Cybersecurity, IT systems, systemic risk

JEL Classification: E44, F36, G15, G2, G21, E52

Suggested Citation

Gurdgiev, Constantin, Is the Rise of Financial Digital Disruptors Knocking Traditional Banks Off the Track? (June 13, 2016). International Banker, June 2016. Available at SSRN:

Constantin Gurdgiev (Contact Author)

Trinity College, Dublin ( email )

Trinity College
Dublin 2

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) ( email )

460 Pierce St
Monterey, CA 93940
United States

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