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Leaders in Lending | Ep. 56

A Macro View of the Big Trends in Banking in 2022

On this episode, Ravi Balasubramanian, Founder and CEO of Sandbox Banking, shares the big trends he sees for 2022, his advice for banks making strides into digitization and his bold prediction for the future of cryptocurrency.

Ravi Balasubramanian-modified


Ravi Balasubramanian

Ravi was a trader and portfolio manager at Lehman, Barclays, UBS and Harvard Management Company before co-founding Sandbox. He was in the M&T program and got degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton. When he's not on the phone with customers, he's writing Python. Ravi loves rock-climbing, scuba diving and traveling beyond cell-phone coverage.

Key Topics Covered

  1. How to gain the capacity for faster organizational decision making
  2. The benefits of having different systems in Web3
  3. Rising innovation in banking as a service
  4. Common missteps in banking digitization


As the CEO & Co-Founder of Sandbox Banking, a company that connects financial institutions with fintechs, Ravi Balasubramanian has an excellent vantage point for all the innovation happening in the banking industry.

In this episode, he shares the big trends he sees, his advice for banks making strides into digitization and his bold prediction for the future of cryptocurrency.

We discuss:

  • How to gain the capacity for faster organizational decision making
  • The benefits of having different systems in Web3
  • Rising innovation in banking as a service
  • Common missteps in banking digitization

Faster organizational decision-making

As interest rates continue to rise and general volatility in the market grows, organizations are looking for ways to become more nimble when it comes to making decisions.

According to Balasubramanian, there are two cultural elements that can make that happen.

First, financial institutions should commit to some variation of agile methodology. 

“I do increasingly see teams in digital and other areas really organized in that agile way, with SME knowledge coming in from their counterparts in compliance or risk and other areas,” he says.

Second, financial institutions need to allow for failure.

“You want people to fail,” he says. “If they haven’t failed, we haven’t taken enough risk.”

Failure leads to learning, and when combined with agile methodologies, learning grows exponentially.

Different systems in Web3

Network thinking has made its way to the infrastructure level. 

“There is this realization amongst financial institutions that there are already many services being provided by their core vendors and other providers,” he says. “It allows you, from an innovation portfolio perspective, to reduce risk and take more risk in certain other areas because you’re not rebuilding everything.”

Building a full-service institution of the future requires services across providers, and if lenders are successful, they also need services targeted at different banking end users.

“You’re not going to be able to do everything in Web3, you’re better off partnering,” Balasubramanian says.

In a way, that concept is comforting. In a world where there is not one system to rule them all, lenders can invest time and energy into finding the best solutions for each individual problem.

Innovation in Banking-as-a-Service

Sandbox Banking co-founder, Skye Isard defines banking-as-a-service as the production and consumption of financial services via APIs. 

When a bank uses its internal systems to talk more effectively to each other, that’s a form of banking as a service. Another form is when a bank uses its FDIC charter and exposes APIs to an external party.

“It’s for banks who say, we’re actually much better off focusing on a certain portion of what we do, which is servicing relationships,” Balasubramanian says. “Perhaps this is a way to attract more revenue or reduce costs by partnering with fintechs that need that banking FDIC charter or access to the rails.”

Bankers are really starting to take a hard look at banking-as-a-service.

One of Sandbox Banking’s customers is using APIs to buy loans from other banks so that they aren’t just originating loans through their own brand. It allows them to increase the amount of origination in segments that they wouldn’t normally cater to. They’re also using those APIs to approach fintech partners that are also originating along the criteria they defined.

“We just expect to see continued innovation throughout the ecosystem,” Balasubramanian says.

Common missteps in banking digitization

Balasubramanian has witnessed quite a lot of innovation within the industry, but he’s also witnessed quite a few missteps.

Shiny toy syndrome is a common one. 

“Just because everyone else says it’s the right thing to do, do you really need it?” Balasubramanian asks.

Another misstep is focusing too much on the UI and the UX, which often results in release delays. A better approach is defining what can be released in an MVP and then learning from that, and making the tech better with each subsequent release.

Balasubramanian has also seen situations where organizations haven’t paid enough attention to the staff experience. The goal of these initiatives is to be successful, but if that means adding more load on people without providing the time and resources to learn, that could lead to retention issues.

“If you spend a little bit more time getting buy-in and getting people comfortable giving you feedback and showing them that you’re going to act on it, people are in a much better position,”  he says.

Stay tuned for new episodes every week on the Leaders in Lending Podcast.


Stay tuned for new episodes every week on the Leaders in Lending Podcast