7 Questions

7 Questions with Bernd Wendeln, Miles & More

Bernd will be presenting at the 10th FinTech Forum/ 5th Anniversary Edition on 22nd Nov. 2018 at The Airport Club, Frankfurt. Learn more/ register here: http://www.fintechforum.de/announcing-the-first-set-of-startups-partners-5yftf/

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am with the Miles & More longer than most Fintechs exist: More than seven years now. And it’s still far from being boring.

I am a growth-oriented payment and loyalty expert and have been working for credit card companies as well as for consulting firms. I don’t see myself as a classic banker. I prefer direct and open contact with my team and partner companies – and I like to wear colourful clothing.

2. What products or services do you offer, and to whom?

Miles & More is Europe’s leading frequent flyer and awards programme. Members have the opportunity to earn and redeem Miles & More award miles with airline partners as well as more than 270 companies anchored in many important areas of life.

Miles & More has been issuing Lufthansa Miles & More credit cards since 1999, initially only in Germany. Today, worldwide, over 1.4 million members in 23 countries are collecting award miles with Miles & More’s co-branded credit cards. Partners in the finance and insurance industry include Commerzbank, Deutsche Kreditbank AG, and Zurich.

We continue to add new partners to our programme, particularly in the financial services sector.

Right now, we are working on expanding our FinTech offer. In 2017, we launched a platform to introduce our FinTech partners to our members: miles-and-more.com/fintech

Today, our FinTech partners include LIQID, Weltsparen, Exporo and Clark, a digital manager for insurances. What’s more, we are currently developing our own finance app with finance management and multi-banking capabilities. And that is only the first step.

3. What are your focus or interest areas, overall and within FinTech?

The FinTech segment is really outstanding. You can hardly find another market where there is so much movement. I personally think the current paradigm shifts are fascinating. The Payment Services Directive 2, opening of the markets, the new focus on the customers – all these changes offer opportunities for new players in the markets, such as Miles & More. The opening of the market will lead to an even stronger creative boost in financial services development. We will see services that are somehow still “banking” but clearly go beyond. Services that link financial services much stronger to individual lifestyles, for example. Our members will enjoy such innovations.

4. What opportunities or challenges are FinTechs creating for incumbents/others?

I guess by saying incumbents you mean the traditional finance and banking industry? The opportunity is to learn from eachother, to take a much more collaborative approach to services development and product offer. That’s the best way to generate maximum benefit and value for customers. The challenge is to manage this collaboration having completely different cultures and ways of working.

5. What do you think about their response so far, and what should they be doing?

It has taken several years, but today, there are signs of cooperation in Germany. To get to this point, both sides had to learn. In the beginning, the FinTechs attacked the financial industry, while traditional banks ignored the FinTechs or talked them down. In the meantime, however, the industry seems to be on the right track and in the end, it is above all the customers who benefit from this.

6. Which way do you see the financial services sector going? Who would be the likely winners?

There is room for traditional financial services providers as well as FinTechs and for some sort of amalgamation of the two. In my opinion, the best way forward is based on cooperation. And indeed it needs to be clarified who will be maintaining the customer relationship. This is, where players such as Miles & More come in and will become part of the new established kids on the block!. However, in the end, the customers will win. They will benefit from more diversity and financial offerings based on state-of-the-art technology.

7. What’s on your bookshelf/holiday reading list?

I am a fan of podcasts. Thus I am listening rather than reading. One of my favourite is the Payment & Banking Podcast which covers all German FinTech & Banking news and gives great food for thought through their discussions. That being said there was once quite recent book that I really enjoyed: The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Entertainingly written and with great insights into arguably the most influential companies in the west right now.