Co-opetition : top partnerships that are changing the game in fintech

Banks competing with fintech? Those days are past. The future of fintech is one where the new and the old are coming together to rewrite the rule books.

Eder Labs
5 min readMay 4, 2021

In life (and perhaps, data science) there is a saying —

“If you want to go fast, go alone
if you want to go far, go together”

Digital banking and fintech is a universe that is ever-growing. And fintech companies are now really starting to launch satellites that can uncover new worlds and new life — driven by data. Truly, data is the fuel of this new burst of exploration. “Data is the new oil”, they had said a few years back. As it turns out, more like solar energy actually.

Now players such as fintechs (and the new-age versions of traditional banks) have realized — that to find new life in the worlds of financial services — they must travel together, building on their core strengths while leveraging the complementary skills of others, rather than reinventing the wheel (and the rocket engines). Open banking and the shift of control towards the consumers have made it all the more natural and essential for enterprises to work together and extend the impact far beyond what they could have done, alone.

Why partnerships?

There are many good reasons and use-cases for fintech businesses partnering with each other —

  • Getting access to new market segments
  • Launching new offerings for existing customers
  • Acquire complementary and alternative intelligence
  • Enriching customer engagement

Top partnerships in recent fintech history

Here are some stories of how fintech businesses are partnering with each other to learn better, together —

  1. Salli Mae + Deserve

Deserve, recently partnered with Sallie Mae to help the leader in
private student lending introduce a new suite of credit cards. Deserve’s
robust cloud-based end-to-end credit card technology allows financial
institutions, like Sallie Mae, to issue credit cards quickly and efficiently.

Learn more about this partnership here

2. Funding Circle and Atom Bank

Alternative lenders in UK — Funding Circle and digital bank Atom have joined forces to deploy £300m of new funding to small businesses.Both Funding Circle and Atom Bank are accredited lenders under the UK government-backed Recovery Loan Scheme.

As part of the partnership, Funding Circle will deploy its Instant Decision Lending technology, which enables SMEs to apply for finance in an average of six minutes, to dish out the cash.

3. Fanny Mae + Plaid

Day 1 Certainty is an initiative by Fannie Mae, supported by Plaid (and a few other partners) that leverages source data to provide better, lower-risk decisions for lenders. Loans that are part of Day 1 Certainty, get relief from certain reps and warrants — the risk of having to buy back loans in the event a defect is discovered. Additionally, this partnership-driven program helped them in reducing application-to-close time by 17 percent on average.

4. Bancolombia + Juntos

In creating a realistic two-way dialogue via text message, Juntos enhances the customer experience without altering BBVA Bancomer or Bancolombia’s product and service offerings. The two partners complement each other’s work, creating a win-win scenario not just for their own operations, but also for the consumer by helping them unlock better services.

Learn more about their partnership here

5. Solo Funds + Mastercard

78 percent of American workers live paycheck-to-paycheck and over 47 percent of Americans can’t cover a $400 cash emergency, according to a recent CNBC report.

SoLo Funds is a mobile lending exchange that connects lenders and borrowers for loans under $1,000. The platform works by examining a user’s banking history, social capital, and behavioral data to determine a SoLo Score. Borrowers can then submit an open request and connect with lenders to directly edit terms and define payback dates. In addition, SoLo Funds offers financial literacy courses, free for all users.

In the words of Travis Holoway, CEO, and co-founder of Solo Funds —

“By integrating with Mastercard, SoLo empowers even more users to deliver small-dollar peer-to-peer loans to those who need them most”

Learn more about this partnership here

6. MicroBank + Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL)

EFL is a U.S.- based fintech that builds risk assessment models using psychometric data to assess creditworthiness among thin-file customers. Through this partnership, MicroBank, a subsidiary of Caixa Bank, is working with EFL to extend credit access to thin-file entrepreneurs in Spain.

More on this partnership here

7. Think Data + Prosper Insights

Prosper provides granular data on consumer intent, serving the financial services, marketing technology, and retail industries.

ThinkData is a Toronto-based tech company that helps enterprise organizations to discover, govern, and monetize the data through an enterprise data catalog — designed to ensure data quality and regulatory compliance at every stage of the data lifecycle.

Through this partnership, ThinkData helps to get Prosper’s unique data in front of organizations that are looking to better understand the market and get predictive

Checklist for partnerships

Being ready for data partnerships is as much a journey as it a destination. There are various best practices that a team must adopt to make partnering a smooth, safe, and human process —

Source: How Financial Institutions and Fintechs Are Partnering for Inclusion: Lessons from the Frontlines

Challenges in partnerships

Rewarding as they are, cracking partnerships in fintech is easier said than done. Here are some top challenges to solve for supercharging fintech partnerships :

  • Data privacy and protection: In many cases, the root cause of friction and tediousness in a partnership is a system that is not designed to be privacy-first — making sure that any data exchanged does not contain sensitive and personally-identifiable-information (PII)
  • Complex compliance and regulations — Related to the above point, increasing data residencies and local regulations make it difficult to govern and moderate data access in a way that you not only adhere to but remain future-proof and human-centric.
  • Faster experiments and time-to-market —Great partnerships need to start off with solid POCs/Pilots, and then, achieve results (and failures) at a good pace. Often, the potential of partnerships gets locked in administrative pressures and time delays kill the momentum.


This article was inspired by the work of the Center for Financial Inclusion and their report — How Financial Institutions and Fintechs Are Partnering for Inclusion: Lessons from the Frontlines. We believe in a future where data-science and AI can make lives better, together.



Eder Labs

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