1 in 5 European banks would buy fintech startups

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Some banks view fintech startups as a threat, and some see them as partners. But some are taking a third route: acquisition.

IDC and SAP surveyed 253 banking institutions, and one out of every five respondents said they mainly consider fintechs as potential acquisition targets. This would explain why so many banks are launching fintech acquisition programs.

Banks in different countries, however, view fintechs differently. Iberian banks (those in Spain and Portugal) are the most likely to view fintechs as acquisition targets, with 29% of respondents responding in this way. French banks, meanwhile, were the least likely at 14%.

Italian banks are the most likely to view fintechs as collaborators, as 47% of respondents see these companies as collaborators. The U.K. placed second at 40%, and France places last at 24%.

Furthermore, French banks were the most likely to see fintech companies as a threat, as 43% of respondents answered in this way, compared to just 20% in Italy and the U.K.

This desire for acquisitions in Spain tracks with data on Iberian banks. The country's second-largest bank, BBVA, has made several fintech acquisitions in the last few years. It purchased Holvi, a Finnish banking services provider for small businesses, in March of this year, and it acquired and absorbed U.S. banking startup Simple in 2014.

Spain's largest bank, Santander, is also investing in fintechs through the launch of a $100 million VC fund for fintech investments in July 2014.

Iberian banks' desire to acquire fintechs could lure venture investment to the region because it helps support the case for an exit strategy.

Regardless of which approach the banks take, there is no denying that we’ve entered the most profound era of change for financial services companies since the 1970s brought us index mutual funds, discount brokers and ATMs.

No firm is immune from the coming disruption and every company must have a strategy to harness the powerful advantages of the new fintech revolution.

The battle already underway will create surprising winners and stunned losers among some of the most powerful names in the financial world: The most contentious conflicts (and partnerships) will be between startups that are completely reengineering decades-old practices, traditional power players who are furiously trying to adapt with their own innovations, and total disruption of established technology & processes:

As you can see, this very fluid environment is creating winners and losers before your eyes…and it’s also creating the potential for new cost savings or growth opportunities for both you and your company.

After months of researching and reporting this important trend, Evan Bakker, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together an essential report on the fintech ecosystem that explains the new landscape, identifies the ripest areas for disruption, and highlights the some of the most exciting new companies. These new players have the potential to become the next Visa, Paypal or Charles Schwab because they have the potential to transform important areas of the financial services industry like:

If you work in any of these sectors, it’s important for you to understand how the fintech revolution will change your business and possibly even your career. And if you’re employed in any part of the digital economy, you’ll want to know how you can exploit these new technologies to make your employer more efficient, flexible and profitable.

Among the big picture insights you'll get from The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry:

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