What I like about Fidor Bank

In many ways, banks are like the Catholic church in the 15th century. They speak a language no-one understands, they thrive in secrecy and rituals and their actions are motivated by self-interest, not by the wellbeing of the congregation. Oh and yes, they build cathedrals.

As before, the reformation seems to have started in Germany. Munich-based Fidor Bank was founded in 2009, in the midst of the banking crisis, and they do things radically different. I like them, and I think the future of banking looks a lot like Fidor. Here’s the main three reasons:

  1. Community first. Literally. First there was the Fidor community, then came the products and services the community asked for. Fidor’s manifesto (“moneyfest”) was written by members of the community. Fidor provides a platform where community members can exchange information and ask (and answer) questions on anything money related. Fidor doesn’t have a social layer, it has a social core.
  2. Driven by values. Fidor understands that the future of banking is about trust and transparency. They are very active in the demystification of money and banking. And they focus on providing great customer value, not on sales or profit.
  3. Digital native. Fidor Bank is not a brick and mortar bank translated to the internet. Social media is not just an extra channel for sales or customer care. Fidor was born online and lives online. On Twitter, you don’t talk to an intern at the bank’s ‘social media hub’, but to the CEO, Matthias Kröner.

There’s more that I like. They accommodate peer-to-peer lending. You can sign on using Facebook Connect.  It seems they can even store your World of Warcraft gold. A lot of innovation, and a lot of fun. But I think that all follows from the three points above. Innovation and fun is what happens when you take something away from the priests and give it back to the community.