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Going digital could be a do-or-die challenge for banks

It’s not enough simply to invest in technology infrastructure to bring down costs. Banks need to use digital products and services to reconnect with their customers.

Eric van der Kleij, a technology entrepreneur who founded pioneering credit card fraud and collections alerting company Adeptra, is now chief executive of Level39, Europe’s largest accelerator space focusing on finance, retail, cyber and future-cities technologies. In its first 22 months, Level39 has had applications from many thousands of companies with ideas for new businesses to transform banking, many devised by leading computer scientists who have previously worked at banks themselves and seen the problems from the inside.

Further reading

• Regulators still calling the shots

• Banks struggle to find the right model

• From exceptional items to a cost of doing business

Late last year, it invited coders and developers still working at the big banks to a two-day hackathon at Level39’s incubator in Canary Wharf. Normally, van der Kleij points out, such staff work in a highly restricted way, tasked with keeping their employers’ creaking legacy technology systems from breaking down, which they are prone to do with occasionally disastrous results.

In November last year, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulatory Authority fined RBS £56 million over an IT debacle in June 2012 that left many of the bank’s 6.5

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