Banking reloaded - talking digital banking innovation with Mastercard, Pacemakers and Star

Olivier Bessi
Henning Holter
Andrea Prazakova
Alessandro Hatami

by Olivier Bessi, Henning Holter, Andrea Prazakova, Alessandro Hatami

The banking industry is at a pivotal crossroads. Technological, societal, and market changes have upended the traditional value proposition. Banks know they have to start seeing themselves as technology-enabled businesses, harnessing the opportunities in front of them, or risk being left behind.

Although these times are challenging, they are full of promise. The banks that can skillfully maneuver this transition and build agility through the right technology adoption, partnerships, business models, and focus on ESG will solidify their position for this decade and years to come. 

What should banks prioritize first? How can they overcome legacy technology, resistance to change, and win against, or perhaps, leverage, nimble new entrants? We brought together digital transformation experts from Mastercard, Pacemakers, and our own FinTech Practice to give you the upper hand. 

Watch the webinar to unpack the topics at the top of every decision-makers' agenda:

  • Leveraging AI and the latest mobile banking technology to retain and grow your customer base
  • Implementing back-end digital transformation and automation for improved profitability
  • Adopting a long-term strategy for sustainable, inclusive growth through ESG investments
  • Forging partnerships with fintechs to unlock better business outcomes faster

Just because there are blips in the economy, focusing on your core business alone is not an option. You have to change. You have to transform.

Alessandro E. Hatami

Alessandro Hatami

Co-founder at Pacemakers

Staying still means moving backwards

Banks have been slow in the uptake of digital banking transformation. At the same time, their systems were built on an ancient, monolithic architecture that’s made transitioning to the cloud incredibly challenging while creating enormous inefficiencies. But the problems aren’t solely technological.

digital banking transformation

Allesandro describes how banks need to reconsider their business models: “Banks think they are stores that sell products. They are actually enablers of what people want – and what they want are three simple things. To buy, secure a credit line and protect a surplus through savings and investing.” As a result, banks have siloed offerings trying to “manage P&L and maximize the former rather than value.” To succeed in this new era, banks need to change by moving away from products and toward prioritizing customer value.  

What do you do with all that data?

Banks have truly staggering amounts of data – figurative goldmines that they should be leveraging. But Andrea emphasizes, “Show me how many banks have a chief digital strategist who can tell them what to do with it.” There are so many ways to leverage what they already know about their customers to improve service, credit decisioning, and sales, and it wouldn’t even require them to draw on deep expertise and expensive resources. 

For example, they can utilize existing customer data and combine the information provided from website cookies to understand shopping and spending habits and tailor specific digital banking services to customers. Best of all, tactics like these can be deployed without digging into more complicated blockchain and Web 3.0 layers. 

The innovation dilemma and fintech partnerships

The incentives are wrong. Banks understand regulation and risk. But they don’t know how to innovate anymore. They can learn from partnerships with FinTech and absorb and learn on the sharp end of things.

Henning Holter

Henning Holter

Business Development Director, FinTech at Star

The panelists didn’t pull any punches when describing why banks so often fail at innovating. As industry insiders, they’ve all seen countless times “good intentions and zero implementation.” The dilemma banks face can be described simply as “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” Why would a bank, or any business for that matter, disrupt itself? There is also enormous institutional weight. You have to overcome shareholder pressure, customer expectations, internal teams, and leadership afraid to “risk their bonuses.” All of this paralyzes organizations. 

You can shout digital innovation in banking, collaboration, and new business models all day, but that’s not going to drive change. Olivier has seen this countless times which is why he urges manageable, bite-sized transformations, “Start small and build trust. Focus on easy paths to innovate, partner and prove that it works via a positive track record.” In the case of banking, he cites foreign exchange as a good start as it comprises a small portion of overall revenues, creating an internal test case that can show the advantages of broader change. 

Andrea has put this philosophy into action at Mastercard. While they may be a payments titan, she applies lessons learned from smaller companies and startups in her projects – create a concept, test, validate, iterate, and evolve on a small scale while developing a “readiness to fail” mindset. Though it may be a cliche, failure is an opportunity to learn and find the right fit. 

If banks want to keep up, they have to do the same.

Go deeper: AI, back-end finance, forging fintech partnerships

The conversation picks up even more steam from here. The panel discusses AI, how to form strategic partnerships with fintechs to stay ahead of technology change, upskilling people and “managing up, down, and outside” for speed, and reduced latency. That’s just the beginning.  

Think like a pro. Master your digital transformation journey and watch the webinar now. 

Related topics


Digital banking innovation Rl5kbapm
Olivier Bessi
Head of FinTech at Star

Olivier is passionate about Financial Technology, Open Banking, Payments, Cards, Trading, Derivatives, and Machine Learning. He loves to build solutions that create value for companies and individuals in the B2B and B2C space. With 10+ years of experience in Product Management and Capital Markets, Olivier successfully collaborated with some of the UK's largest FCMs and Investment Banks. He successfully led the launch and growth of a new derivatives post-trade reconciliation product - driving its design, implementation, management, go-to-market, and pre-sales to build a profitable, sustainable business.

Digital banking innovation Rl9kbapm
Henning Holter
Business Development Director, FinTech

Henning is a financial services executive specializing in digital transformation and innovation within the banking sector. His background includes 15 years in senior leadership positions, spearheading numerous successful digital transformation initiatives that empowered organizations to harness cutting-edge technologies to deliver enhanced customer experiences. Henning's expertise lies in leveraging innovative solutions to drive operational efficiency, optimize business processes, and foster sustainable growth.

Digital banking innovation Rldkbapm
Andrea Prazakova
Sr. Vice President at Mastercard Foundry & ESG

Andrea is the Senior Vice President for EEMEA Foundry at Mastercard, overseeing innovation, customer-centric solution experience design, research, and UI/UX. In addition to her role in EEMEA, Andrea drives the Environmental and Social agenda for Mastercard in the region, contributing to global goals of financially including 1 billion people and planting 100 million trees by 2025. Her 23 years of financial experience also include positions at Raiffeisen International, UniCredit, Erste Bank, and the IFC.

Digital banking innovation Rlhkbapm
Alessandro Hatami
Co-founder at

Alessandro is Managing Partner at An entrepreneur, corporate executive, and co-author of the groundbreaking book Reinventing Banking and Finance: Frameworks to Navigate Global Fintech Innovation, his experience spans across banking, financial services, and payments at some of the world's most respected companies including GE, PayPal, and Lloyds. At Pacemakers, he focuses on supporting the digital transformation of banks and financial services organizations.

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