Fintech firms are traditionally thought of as innovators and disruptors when it comes to financial services UX. Startups use smoother customer journeys and intuitive apps to disrupt the business model of incumbents. But is that an accurate assessment of fintech’s effect on the industry? At Techonomy’s Accelerate Finance conference, CI’s Matthew Eschmann, Director of Research, Banking, Cards & Mobile Finance, discussed how the firms providing a leading customer experience aren’t necessarily the fintech innovators. Watch his summary of the state of UX in fintech:

Can a firm really be an innovator when its overall UX falls short of industry standards? Our research finds that, more often than not, fintechs finish in the bottom half of our holistic assessments. When we compare traditional bank, brokerage and credit card mobile app capabilities to those of fintechs, it’s the traditional firms that come out on top. In our latest assessment, all seven firms rating as above average are established firms. Six of the eight firms rating as below average are fintechs.

This chart shows that traditional often outperform fintechs in an overall capability comparison.
Fintechs fall short in our audits of mobile bank, credit card and brokerage firms

While fintechs have certainly altered user expectations in financial services, it may make more sense to think of fintechs as influencers rather than disruptors. Our research has consistently found that for years any innovations from bank, credit card and brokerage fintechs are quickly adopted by traditional firms. Fintechs influence the decisions of established players, rather than push them out of business entirely.

This dynamic, of course, relies on established firms to monitor fintechs to see what innovations resonate with customers. Forward-thinking incumbents can allow fintechs to function as a sandbox for new ideas and then create their own offerings in response. Incumbents that are slow to adapt to changing customer expectations, however, will be left behind–surpassed both by incumbents that adapt and by the fintechs themselves.