Oliwia Berdak

Principal Analyst

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Fighting GAFA Boo-Hoos

Oliwia Berdak October 24, 2018

In the spirit of Halloween, I’m going to write about the bogeyman of almost every industry out there: GAFA. In the last few years, I have answered many versions of the same question: what will Google (insert Apple/Facebook/Amazon) do to us (insert financial services/healthcare/retail/media)? This fear is grounded in some reality. All four firms are […]

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Profiling Insurtech: Q&A With David Vanek, CEO Of Anorak

Oliwia Berdak September 25, 2018

“Insurance is sold, not bought.” This industrywide perception has gone unchallenged for decades, reaffirming agent- and advisor-based distribution models. But now a plethora of insurtech startups such as Brolly in the UK, Gabi in the US, and PolicyPal in Singapore aim to help customers find suitable cover. A newcomer among the firms digitalizing insurance distribution […]

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Wanted: Fintech Expert

Oliwia Berdak September 19, 2018

Financial services firms are on the hunt. They’re hunting unicorns. As firms like Revolut and TransferWise attain valuations of $1 billion or more, the pressure to find the Stripes of this world before their value skyrockets has never been stronger. But it’s not just the unicorns that firms are hunting. They’re also chasing the wolpertinger. […]

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How To Ride The Technology Wave (And Not Get Swept Away)

Oliwia Berdak March 29, 2018

AI, blockchain, chatbot, digital identity, etc. — there’s enough emerging technology in financial services to fill a whole alphabet book. And it’s difficult not to get swept off your feet by visions of bionic men, self-executing smart contracts, and virtual assistants that anticipate our every need. Investing in emerging technology is one of the main […]

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The Fintech Industry Has Grown Up

Oliwia Berdak March 12, 2018

Having trekked between the ExCel convention center and central London for most of last week – Finovate Europe moved to this larger and more remote location from the historical Old Billingsgate Hall this year – I can’t help but think that the changed location and format of the event reflect the wider changes happening in […]

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Profiling Insurtech: Q&A with Niall Barton, CEO of Wrisk

Oliwia Berdak February 1, 2018

Insurers have so far been shielded from digital disruption by an older demographic, underwriting expertise, and regulatory barriers. But this is changing. The past few years have seen the emergence of a growing number of digital insurers like BIMA, Cuvva, Lemonade, Oscar, Slice, and Trōv, which use digital technologies to simplify the buying and managing […]

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The Wounded Unicorns Of Fintech

Oliwia Berdak August 2, 2016

Finovate, KPMG, and CB Insights are all reporting on record investments in financial technology (fintech) in 2016.[i] According to Finovate, the total number of deals year-to-date stands at 737, double last year’s 371. The amount invested has more than doubled, too — from $8.4 billion raised during the same period a year ago to $17.4 […]

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Digital Labs Can Do More Harm Than Good

Oliwia Berdak June 17, 2016

Exposed brick is replacing marble at many banks, insurers, and payment firms. Warehouses are deemed a better location for digital labs, digital centers of excellence, innovation labs, and innovation centers. But why are these spaces proliferating from Silicon Valley to Singapore? A cynic could say it’s a marketing exercise aimed at making the respectable (if […]

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The Gods Of Fintech Are Harsh And Fickle

Oliwia Berdak February 10, 2016

Games of buzzword bingo and comparisons of on-stage role-play to 1980s’ pornography acting…today’s comments on Twitter prove that it takes guts to face the sometimes cruel Finovate crowd. But if you want to measure the current beat of banking, wealth management, insurance, and startup hearts, there’s no better place than Finovate. Here are a few […]

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Should Financial Services Firms Engage With Fintech Startups?

Oliwia Berdak January 5, 2016

At least two dozen accelerators and incubators have been launched by financial services firms in the last two years. I believe that in five years’ time, most of these corporate accelerators will have disappeared. Why? A fully-fledged, multi-startup accelerator is expensive to run. The cost of searching, selecting, and providing seed investment and support for […]

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For The Third Time In Three Years, Forrester’s UK Mobile Banking Benchmark Has A New Leader

Oliwia Berdak June 4, 2015

[This is a guest blog by Alexander Causey] In 2013 NatWest led the way. Last year Barclays overtook having introduced a range of new app functionality, including being the first in the UK to introduce a digital vault (Barclays Cloud It). And now in our latest report we found Lloyds Bank to have jumped ahead […]

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What Threat Do P2P Currency Exchange Startups Pose To Retail Banks?

Oliwia Berdak April 16, 2015

This is a guest post by Alexander Causey. Have you ever sent money abroad and been shocked by the amount the recipient is left with? Why can’t you ever get anything close to the exchange rates advertised on the likes of xe.com? As a customer, transferring money internationally is often a costly experience. Despite claims […]

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Insurers, It’s Time To Emerge From Your Long Winter Sleep

Oliwia Berdak March 16, 2015

Spring is finally here, and with that, a time for wild animals to emerge from their winter sleep. We humans don’t really hibernate, but we can find it difficult to get out of bed to face a rather frosty environment. This applies to companies, too. I wrote last year that European insurers were waking up […]

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Why You Need An Innovation Ecosystem And How To Prosper As Part Of One

Oliwia Berdak February 11, 2015

Having just watched 72 demos at FinovateEurope, I can confirm that digital financial innovation is alive and kicking. Over the last couple of days, I have seen a number of inspiring solutions to deal with some of the most difficult problems facing financial services today. The main themes at Finovate this year included simplifying and […]

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Digital Disruption Is Happening In Financial Services, You Get It. Now What?

Oliwia Berdak August 6, 2014

Over the past year, we’ve told banks that some of them would become custodians. We’ve told insurers that many of them would be forced to specialise. We’ve told wealth management firms that many would shrink. We’ve done this to show them how digital disruption could savage retail financial services, just as it has done with the […]

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Why Asking About Google Bank Is The Wrong Question

Oliwia Berdak July 29, 2014

"When will Google launch a bank and what will it look like?" is a question I frequently hear from our banking clients. Google’s activities in digital wallets and payments, as well as its reputation as one of the most disruptive firms in the market, have obviously left many banking executives worried. Unfortunately, they’re asking the […]

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Financial Services Are Hot – Who Would Have Thought?

Oliwia Berdak July 17, 2014

Not a day passes without more millions pouring into start-ups bent on disrupting retail financial services. Yesterday it was the payments start-up Zooz with US$12 million, today it’s the peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle with US$65 million. Venture capitalists have obviously sniffed an opportunity in an industry characterized by high margins, underserved customers, and accumulated […]

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Few Insurers Are Currently Proud Of Their Mobile Offerings, And Rightly So

Oliwia Berdak July 2, 2014

Have you ever had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Maxwell the Pig? Maxwell is a likeable if slightly assuming animated pig. At times he can be a bit dismissive of those who aren’t as digitally savvy as he is. Maxwell is also a celebrity, featuring in a number of videos promoting Geico’s mobile […]

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Is Peer-To-Peer Lending A Threat To Banks?

Oliwia Berdak May 7, 2014

Social lending, or peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, is not even ten yet, but it has caused a great deal of commotion already. Consumers, regulators, and banks continue to be perplexed by a business model which is so emblematic of the digital economy, or of digital disruption. Thanks to digital tools, potential lenders and borrowers can interact with […]

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Why You Should Turn To Poland For Digital Financial Services Inspiration

Oliwia Berdak May 2, 2014

“How come America put a man on the moon 45 years ago but still has not produced decent online banking?” asked recently on Twitter Michał Panowicz, mBank’s Managing Director for Products, Digital Channels and Marketing and one of the speakers at last week’s Net Finance Conference. As provocative as the question is, Panowicz is in […]

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