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August 24, 2021updated 20 Dec 2021 2:37pm

“FIS: Innovative, acquisitive and a drive to win”: Silvia Mensdorff

By Douglas Blakey

Silvia Mensdorff discusses with RBI editor Douglas Blakey why FIS is so well placed to benefit from the coming together of the payments side with core banking as well as highlighting reasons for optimism that banks can lead the way in promoting sustainability

FIS Europe head of banking solutions Silvia Mensdorff holds one of the most significant roles in fintech. She is also one of the leading executives responsible for the success of the European Women Payments Network as a founding member of the group.

She tells RBI why the idea of a move from a senior role at ACI Worldwide to FIS appealed to her. To be precise, the breadth of FIS solutions and specifically its pedigree on the core banking side. And she has a nice turn in understatement.

“As one of the largest fintechs, FIS is very innovative and has a highly acquisitive culture. I always think I would rather be on the acquiring side than the acquired. That gives me comfort as an employee.”

Over 30 acquisitions since 2003

Over 30 acquisitions and counting in less than 20 years certainly qualifies FIS as acquisitive (see table).

She adds: “When you think about how the fintech industry is developing the payment side is coming together with the core banking side and the money will be made in the value-added services on top of those platforms.

“And so, a vendor that can provide both of these solutions sets enables more value to be provided to the market. FIS is not just one of the largest fintechs. It’s very innovative and highly acquisitive culture adds a lot of spice to what we do every day. The biggest mistake we can make is to think that fintechs are companies that just came on to the market.

Established, innovative, sound financial background and the drive to win

“When you combine innovation and a drive to win with a very established and very sound financial background, then you can trust that projects that we engage in will be brought to the finishing line.

“It should also give comfort to our customers and our prospects that their solutions are in safe hands.”

Mensdorff is speaking towards the end of what has been another good news month for FIS.

Silvia Mensdorff, head of banking solutions, FIS Europe, speaks with RBI editor Douglas Blakey

Specifically, it released details of another significant extension to its flagship cloud-native core banking platform. In particular, FIS added new components which include innovative retail lending and commercial onboarding as well as a growing ecosystem of third-party solutions. These additions to its advanced digital banking capabilities are already being deployed by a dozen leading banks including Fifth Third Bank and BMO Harris.

Mensdorff says that similar deals will be announced each quarter. And not just from other major banks in North America but from around the world.

Mensdorff says that the FIS Modern Banking Platform, built from the ground up using a highly flexible, cloud-native architecture and component-based approach, will enable banks to stay ahead of market changes. And confidently grow into the future.

FIS Modern Banking Platform: more than 60 advanced components

“These new components continue the evolution of the platform as one of the most open, powerful, and scalable banking systems in the industry.”

Since its introduction in early 2020, FIS Modern Banking Platform now provides more than 60 advanced components from FIS and a growing ecosystem of fintech partners—all enabled through the system’s open, API-based architecture. That provides ease of integration to FIS’ Code Connect application gateway.

New components on FIS Modern Banking Platform include:

  • Retail Lending: Financial institutions using the platform can now offer a full range of secured and unsecured term loan products to their retail customers whether in a branch, via a mobile wallet, or at point-of-sale. These lending services are all delivered through an intuitive, end-to-end digital user experience. The new lending components leverage advanced technology from both FIS and key partners including Amountfor origination and Telrock for collections.
  • Commercial Express: A digital commercial customer onboarding and account servicing solution enables financial institutions’ corporate customers to self-serve their accounts through a new digital user experience. The solution includes advanced workflow, document management, and data and document repositories for commercial banking clients, enhancing their banking experience.

FIS Q2 2021: accelerated revenue growth

A good month for FIS was topped off with its results for the second quarter of the current fiscal. FIS reported accelerated revenue growth in all operating segments. Merchant is up 45% year-on-year, Banking up 8% y-o-y, and Capital Markets up 6% y-o-y.

Other key takeaways include an increase in fiscal 2021 revenue guidance by $250m to $13.9-$14.0bn in order to reflect new sales and a growing backlog of revenue under contract during the second quarter.

Moreover, FIS raises its year-end 2021 revenue synergy target by $100m to approximately $700m on an annual run-rate basis, in order to reflect strong cross-selling performance during the second quarter.

Germany and Poland: interesting markets and scope to win new business

Looking ahead, Mensdorff sees a lot of opportunity to grow in Germany on the core banking side but also in enterprise payments.

“The Germans have been behind in delivering instant payments and they are waking up to that. Poland is a market that is interesting to us – it is a big growth market. On the core banking side, FIS has invested in building a new solution from the ground up. So there is a huge opportunity for banks that need to revamp. If you have an old core banking system it is going to get tougher and tougher.”

“When you look at cloud deployment, five years ago, the banks were doubtful. In the meantime, the banks have undertaken an analysis and have been on a journey. The whole debate has shifted completely. When it comes to the bottom line, the biggest challenge will be when you can switch the data centre off. There is so much legacy in there.  There are not many banks out there that do not believe in a cloud strategy.”

ESG: ‘very proud of the FIS stance’- Silvia Mensdorff, FIS

Mensdorff is upbeat about how the financial services sector in general and FIS in particular is prioritising tackling climate change. She says that banks have a huge opportunity to show leadership. At the same time, there is scope to pursue a commercial opportunity.

Banks have, after all, a full 360-degree view of a consumer’s total spend in an increasingly digital age. So, she argues that banks could support consumers’ desire to lower their carbon footprint. They could calculate a customer’s carbon footprint and not just on a transaction-by-transaction basis. Instead, banks could calculate a customer’s carbon footprint based on their financial footprint. They could then offer advice and perhaps incentives to customers able to lower their carbon footprint.

She concludes: “The banks have a huge opportunity. As a consumer I would be very interested in that and as a model it would be positive for everyone. I have been in payments all my working life. Digital payments are a huge saviour on the carbon footprint. Moving from cash to digital, helps to save the planet.”

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