TD Bank’s Colleen Johnston says FinTechs are creating more opportunities for banks

Last week, The Disruptors hosted a special edition of the show at the Canadian Innovation Exchange, which celebrates emerging Canadian startups.

Co-hosts Bruce Croxon and Amber Kanwar sat down with Colleen Johnston, the head of direct channels, technology, marketing, and corporate affairs at TD Bank, to discuss how FinTech is changing the financial sector in Canada.

Johnston, who was formerly TD’s CFO, explained how the rise of FinTech startups will benefit consumers the most. “In terms of who’s going to win in the digital economy, I actually think it’s the customer,” said Johnston.

Croxon asked Johnston how TD has been adapting to changes and competition that comes with the rise of FinTech startups. Johnston says that instead of seeing the progress of FinTech as something that jeopardizes the role and strength of traditional banks, banks can see FinTech as an opportunity for growth and collaboration.

“Banks have many advantages. We have 22 million customers, trust, privacy, [and] security,” said Johnston. “All of these things make a big difference, but FinTech has a lot of advantages as well. They’re lightweight, they’re entrepreneurial, and they’re more innovative. I think that can actually be the perfect marriage.” Johnston adds that banks and FinTechs can work together to solve and simplify traditional processes to make them “better and more customer friendly.”

Earlier this year, TD partnered with Flybits to give customers better banking experiences. The bank’s indirect home improvement financing assets were also acquired by Financeit and Concentra.

During the show, Johnston gave the example of how TD worked with Moven, a major global FinTech, to develop MySpend, an app that allows users to keep track of their spending. “[It] helps our customers manage their money, receive real-time alerts on how they’re spending their money…so it’s been a great partnership. Within six months, we have over 700,000 registered users,” said Johnston.

Kanwar raised the point of how FinTechs often have to partner with traditional banks to scale and reach their ideal market. Johnston said that it is often because of the trust, customers, and resources that banks have that pushes some FinTechs to work with banks. Going forward, Johnston says FinTech will continue to grow in Canada and traditional banks like TD will take advantage of the opportunity that arises from FinTech.

“The big opportunity for us is to be omnichannel,” said Johnston. “[It’s] connection to all of our channels and creating that seamless experience for our customers, and that’s something banks can uniquely provide to their customers.”

Watch the full interview below:

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Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.