The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has released its fintech collaboration guidelines – a 23-page document aimed at helping fintechs collaborate with each other and other institutions 

The guidelines highlight three main categories of standards: information security (infosec) standards, commercial standards, and technology standards. 

Within each category, the guidelines highlight a series of themes (such as data hosting or data classification), recommend a specific standard for each theme, and provide an explanation as to why that standard has been selected.  

According to the ICC, the paper is intended to serve as a living document and be updated as the need arises by industry partners and various commissions and working groups within the ICC ecosystem.

The release comes at a time where there is increased rhetoric surrounding fintech partnerships and their benefits for international trade, with the ICC intending to help drive collaboration in the digital world.

As trade is slowing making this transition and becoming increasingly more digital, there is a transition in the perception of fintechs from being seen as a disruptor to more of a partner.


Fintech partnerships in trade finance

Historically, there was a lot of discussion surrounding the threat that innovative fintech provides posed for incumbent banks. 

Many commenters, felt that banks were nearing the end of their lifespans and would soon be surpassed by agile fintechs with a fresh mindset and unburdened by outdated legacy technology systems. 

Over time, and perhaps partly driven by the banking industry’s need to rapidly adjust to a digital working environment at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dialogue has shifted away from competition and more towards that of partnerships and collaboration.

This rapid shift to virtual work provided strong market opportunities for fintech providers to work with, rather than compete against, their traditional counterparts. 

As time has worn on and digital practices have become more accepted into banking culture, it has made business sense to continue to foster these relationships and find ways to work better together. 

Sometimes, however, that can be easier said than done.

Insights and guidelines from the ICC

One of the challenges that this new set of guidelines helps to address is the fact that the term fintech encompasses such a wide range of firms and applications – something that can make collaboration a challenge if they are not aligned on standards.

Besides the growth of digital solutions within corporate to bank (C2B) transactions, they are also increasingly prevalent in the digital transformation of any bank’s operational processes, reducing costs while providing a better client experience.

According to the ICC, one of the biggest challenges voiced by technology providers operating in this space is the different degrees of vendor management policies and practices implemented within each financial institution. 

It can take a considerable amount of time and resources to complete the due diligence required by each financial institution and many fintechs, particularly new market entrants, lack the capacity to navigate these onboarding processes. 

In the ICC’s research, practitioners most often complain about the lack of clearly defined vendor management standards for financial institutions and the time needed to test and launch new products.

While the ICC acknowledges that these standards are not all-inclusive, they serve as a starting point for firms in the field to standardise their approaches and help address these challenges.