The Banker has identified 13 banks to keep an eye on in the coming year based on a variety of factors. German-based Fidor Bank has been selected for its forward-thinking business model, which is based on Web 2.0 and social media, e-commerce, games and mobile internet.

“Why should we do what the traditional banks do? If we did that, there wouldn’t be any innovation.” This is the mindset of Matthias Kröner, CEO and one of the founders of Fidor Bank in Germany.

The Fidor Bank model is based on Web 2.0 and social media, e-commerce, games and mobile internet, the four key areas that Fidor’s founders see as becoming more and more popular among customers.

“In 2006, we wondered what a customer with a digital presence would want from their bank and what the technical and cultural requirements for a bank to meet these demands would be,” says Mr Kröner. “It has been five years since the crisis [but] it’s evident from the recent Libor case and other scandals that banks have not changed their culture. At this moment in time, you can’t just say it is possible to create a new banking experience. You have to do it.”

This is exactly what Fidor Bank does. Its founders are board members and its pioneering approach to banking revolves around its core philosophy: that the bank and customers are a community that interact with each other. This philosophy extends right through to its motto: ‘banking with friends’.

“We don’t need to do customer surveys in the traditional sense. We are in constant touch with our community through social media,” says Mr Kröner. “We even speak to our community late at night. Customers love it when staff or board members log on at 10pm for instance, even if it’s to say that they will deal with a query the next morning.”

One of Fidor’s most innovative ideas has been the ‘like’ interest rate, which was launched in April last year. The more likes the bank gets on its Facebook pages, the higher the interest rate becomes. At the time of writing it had been liked 14,550 times, meaning its interest rate stood at 1.1%. With another 1450 likes the bank will increase the interest rate to 1.2%.

“This is just one example of what is achievable in banking; a perfect example of translating social media DNA into financial services. You are transparent and integrate the customer into your concept. It’s customer-driven pricing,” says Mr Kröner.

The feedback Fidor has received so far has been positive, attracting the attention of both the e-commerce and banking sectors. This led the bank to create a business-to-business concept, Fidor TecS, a technology subsidiary that sells white-label solutions to what Mr Kröner calls “big-name partners”.


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