Banks Face Off With Fintech Rivals in $250 Billion Payments War

(Bloomberg) -- The humdrum business of helping companies pay suppliers and collect funds from customers has turned into a battleground between banks and technology upstarts, with $250 billion of revenue at stake, according to Oliver Wyman.

Fintech firms such as TransferWise Ltd. and Revolut Ltd. are capturing market share from the banks that once had a stranglehold over the wholesale payments and cash-management industry, the consulting firm said in a report Friday. While high costs for building and maintaining payment platforms previously kept competitors out, advances in technology have helped reduce barriers to entry, it said.

Banks also face a threat from tech giants such as Apple Inc. and China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which are building large payment businesses that bypass the traditional banking system, the report said.

The stakes are high. Wholesale payments and cash management generated $250 billion of revenue last year, and, unlike other areas of wholesale banking, it’s a business that’s growing fast, according to Oliver Wyman. Revenues grew more than 10 percent in the first half of 2018, the consulting firm said, adding that it forecasts annual growth of 5 percent over the next five years as rising volumes and higher interest rates offset shrinking margins.

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