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Making shrewd technology investments and partnerships are key for business banking innovation


Innovation in financial services occurs at the margin: The typical financial institution often works off multi-year strategic planning cycles that dictates which opportunities to pursue and thus which investments to make. A consequence of this reality is that innovation tends not to sprout from these bloated organizations, and instead germinates from newcomers willing to operate at the margin.

  • Plaid stumbled into what was, at the time, a highly inconspicuous and unproven use-case a customer of theirs needed: connecting bank accounts to an app that allowed people to send money to each other. The company in question was Venmo, and now they are a household name.


Partnerships are the key for banks to pull together compelling propositions: Given that zero to one innovation is difficult to foster from within large organizations like banks, partnerships are key to building value propositions that can compete with challenger banks. With the often three-to-five-year planning cycles, it makes it more important to choose partners and make technology investments that are both coherent with the current strategy but also flexible enough to adapt into how that strategy may evolve. The risk banking leaders want to avoid is the prospect of scrapping investments made under the context of a previous strategy because the solution was too bespoke and rigid.

  • Banking leaders need competent partners to advance and evolve their value propositions.
  • Technology investments made under a specific strategy carries the risk of obsolescence as it evolves under new regimes.


Bias for partners with anti-fragile and extensible solutions: Given the rapid pace of technology innovation, banking leaders need to bias towards making investments in solutions that are both anti-fragile and extensible. Not all partners nor all solutions need to meet these two attributes, but for core investments that are expected endure, this is critical.

  • The property of anti-fragility is popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and describes how a system or a thing increases in capability because of stressors and shocks. It is different to the property of robustness and is the opposite of fragility.
  • Anti-fragile technologies accrue value the longer it is deployed and used – this positive-sum characteristic reduces the cost of potential pivots.
  • Technologies that are extensible, modular, and Lego-like in how they can be deployed enables optionality for banking leaders as strategy evolves.


Partner with 9Spokes to unlock SMB data connectivity and ready-to-go small business modules: 9Spokes’ core value proposition is one delivered by technologies that are both anti-fragile and extensible in nature. A small business data platform grows more valuable the longer it is used, and this can be measured across multiple dimensions from breadth and depth of connectivity in apps and in the data and insights contained therein. Core to the value of the data platform is its characteristic of being extensible; it is a data source to power any manner of front-end small business applications including but not limited to 9Spokes’ own suite of ready-to-wear customizable modules. 

  • 9Spokes Open, a small business data platform, is anti-fragile and accrues value the longer it is in use by banks and their business customers.
  • SMB data connectivity is a core ingredient in building out compelling propositions to small businesses – whatever the front-end experience may look like, it will always need the easy connection to the data sources that power it.
  • 9Spokes Track, a ready-to-wear suite of customizable front-end small business experiences, offer a launch pad for banks to quickly and cheaply go-to-market with a new small business offering without having to take the risk of an upfront investment in building something from scratch that’s not guaranteed to gain traction with end-users.


Winning the small business segment is made palatable with an anti-fragile data platform: The small business segment is difficult to make work as success requires operating at scale due to the lower margins. Every interaction a small business has with a bank, be it physically at a branch, ATM, or digitally, is powered by their data. Pre-existing data solutions are often made bespoke to fit each specific use-case and lack integrability i.e., one data source to be deployed in one way to power one experience. A purpose-built SMB data platform opens the surface area for innovation and potential use-cases as it can support many data sources deployed in many ways to power many experiences – and the more of each layer are added to, the more powerful the overall platform becomes.

  • The core value of a dedicated SMB data platform is that it is an always evolving system that can unlock connectivity across multiple dimensions.
    • Breadth of apps: 9Spokes has a selection of supported app integrations banks can choose from. As app integrations is a core competency of 9Spokes, any additional apps required incurs a modest marginal cost as compared to banks doing the integrations on their own.
    • Depth of apps: For each app category, like accounting or e-commerce, the strength of the business case of integrating each additional app diminishes for the bank, but for 9Spokes, it does not so as if it’s relevant for one bank it will be so for others.
    • Maturity of integration: There is a maturity curve that attaches to each integration. On the simple end of the spectrum, it could support the ability to pull key data points from the app in a read-only state. On the complex end of the spectrum, it could support the ability to read-and-write-back the entirety of all data points manipulable in the app in addition to a complementary set of metrics and insights calculated from the raw data points.
  • Working with a partner that specializes in SMB data connectivity comes with it access to a wealth of industry insights only they can uncover from working with SMB data at scale and deployed to solve all manner of problems.
  • Investing in an SMB data platform is not just a fit to any small business strategy today, but it is one of those assets that will experience compounding returns five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years into the future.


An SMB data platform is the foundation to building differentiated banking experiences: Data integrations is not, and should not be, a core competency of a bank. A bank should be leaders in providing banking experiences. There are two options: build vs. buy. The former offers control but requires significant upfront investment with no guarantee of traction for the end-product. The latter offers reduced risk but often means an undifferentiated experience for end-users. The middle-ground is a white-labelled and customizable module that banks can position at their discretion as an independent offering or one-part of a large offering – all powered by SMB data running through the core platform.

  • White-labelled and modular front-end solutions offer banks building blocks to craft a differentiated small business experience.
  • 9Spokes has a suite of ready-to-customize modules oriented to small business including: Cashflow Manager, Banking Dashboard, Connected Apps, and Bankers Access.

How 9Spokes can help: 9Spokes is a data and visualization hub for SMBs and an insights platform for banks. Incentivize your business customers to connect their operating and performance data. Unlock always-on insights to feed through to lending operations and relationship managers to grow your SMB portfolio. Talk to us today.


Photo by Rodeo Project Management Software on Unsplash