How banks can use software ecosystems to win small businesses 

For a while now, banks have offered more than financial products and services – but not for the sake of diversification. Instead, as Alex Kreger, a UX Strategist and Forbes Councils Member wrote last year, “The world of banking is no longer just about interest rates and account balances. It’s a battleground of experiences.”

One tactic to win this contest is to design or be part of an ecosystem. And by that we mean extending the typical banking experience to include more digital touchpoints, services and partners.

What does an ecosystem look like?

Banking software ecosystems aren’t always owned by banks. For instance, NorthOne is a business banking platform and – even though it’s not a bank – it offers business bank accounts through The Bancorp Bank, as well as its own branded bookkeeping, invoice management and revenue tracking tools.

That’s an ecosystem in itself, but NorthOne doesn’t stop there – they also have a long list of integrations and perks with partners, ensuring customers have a fully joined-up experience, taking them from their first business idea to their first transaction, their first hire and beyond.

Although NorthOne is a small business banking ecosystem with its origins in fintech rather than finance, it’s not only possible for banks to offer a similar or even more comprehensive experience, it’s becoming widely recommended.

Why are ecosystems the way forward for banks?

Ecosystems are a way to create a “cradle-to-grave” experience, as some in the industry have called it – an experience that grabs customers by the hand from the first touch point, and guides them through life and business in such a way that they never want to let go.

It’s not the first time we’ve mentioned it, but McKinsey recently published a report advising that banks should consider becoming a one-stop shop for small businesses, “deepening relationships with customers by offering commercial enablement tools such as payroll, accounting, website hosting and design, and marketing and analytics.”

Bain & Company recommended a similar approach for banks last year, suggesting their ecosystems should help business owners to complete “The pressing jobs to be done”.

  • Transaction-led businesses, such as e-commerce, need a way of making payments more efficient because of their large transaction volumes.
  • Service-led businesses, such as construction, can struggle to track invoices and get paid on time, so they often need accounting tools to help shorten delays.
  • Very small enterprises need help with cash flow management to ensure day-to-day survival.

Of course, businesses could go to a number of different providers to get these tools, but the McKinsey research suggests that small businesses don’t want to. They’d much rather have one trusted source.

If your brand is well-established, this will show in the uptake: for instance, 70% of buy-now-pay later users would prefer to use banks when choosing a lender – there’s simply more trust there.

How to create a digital ecosystem – three different routes for banks

We’ll break down the options from the perspective of a SaaS platform that’s been working closely with banks, small business customers and other platform providers.

1. Become an orchestrator

Whether you’re looking at Lloyds Bank’s Cardnet or the Bank of Scotland’s accounting software, you can see tools that are housed under the bank’s own branding – but that’s no guarantee they were built in-house.

While labelling is a way for banks to offer market-tested software quickly to their customers – but it’s also a way for the customer to stay within your branded ecosystem.

By complementing their products with white label solutions, such as BaseKit’s ecommerce store, banks can become the orchestrators of an experience that takes small businesses from their first business bank account to their first transaction online.

The advantages:

  • You own the entire experience.
  • Loyalty you generate with customers is reserved entirely for your brand.
  • It’s faster and more affordable than building tools in-house.
  • It’s tried, tested and robust with shared responsibility.

The limitations:

  • It requires commitment to work with partners and tie the ecosystem together for your users.

Best for:

  • Banks that want to offer a seamless, branded experience to customers.

2. Become a provider

If we take a look at Mettle’s integration with FreeAgent accounting software, Santander’s deal with Elavon, or Metrobank’s preferred Acceptcards, we can see partnership deals are certainly on the table for banks.

The general principle is this: work with others and share the reward. As a bank you collaborate with software or fintech providers, so that your customers can work across your different products with minimal friction – and often at a discount.

The advantages:

  • It’s simpler, faster and cheaper to set up than the other options.
  • You get to offer market-tested software.
  • You quickly increase the value you can offer your customers.

The limitations:

  • It’s a co-branded experience. Your customers won’t associate all the benefits with your brand.
  • The user experience can feel a little fragmented when you piece together differently branded offerings from different sources.

Works best for:

  • New challenger banks and fintechs who need a competitive offering fast.

While we recognise the limitations, the provider route is one we support wholeheartedly at BaseKit – see our own KitStart referral program.

With KitStart, we create a co-branded KitStart website that connects to your ecosystem – so your small business customers build and manage their website with our BaseKit platform via a referral link from your brand. You can monitor signups and behaviour, we take care of everything else.

3. Become a builder

Like the Tidebank’s expense management app or Revolut’s invoicing software, some tools in the banking ecosystem are created in-house, and launched under a bank’s own branding.

The advantages:

  • You get to craft and own the entire experience.
  • Any goodwill you generate with customers will be reserved entirely for your brand

The limitations:

  • You have to take on the development burden – it’s a massive commitment.
    Your product is unlikely to be competitive in the market on day 1 of its launch – you’ll need to allow time for market testing, iteration and so on.
  • There’s a limit to how much you can build – you’ll probably need to explore other options if you want a comprehensive ecosystem.

Works best for:

  • Banks with the budget to build experiences that don’t yet exist elsewhere

This is still all to play for

According to 2023 BCG analysis “only 27% of top banks have engaged in ecosystems to a significant extent” but “more than half (52%) are in the experimental phase”.

In other words, ecosystems are on the table but no one has yet played a winning hand.

The same BCG report recommends that banks take part in active and committed experimentation. So banks can go out there and find the route that works for them, whether it’s as a provider, builder or orchestrator, or a bit of all three. As we saw with NorthOne, it’s perfectly possible to combine integration partners and perks with your own-branded tools.

For more ideas on how banks can create ecosystems, see our articles on why banks will be the next base camp for selling online and the first 30 days – how banks will win small business customers for a lifetime.

We’re on a mission for tech democracy for small businesses. Request a demo of our software, or get in touch to discuss what a BaseKit partnership could look like.

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. View more
Cookies settings
Privacy & Cookie policy
Privacy & Cookies policy
Cookie name Active
Privacy Policy

  1. Introduction This privacy policy sets out how we use and protect any information that you provide to BaseKit. We are committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Any personal information you provide when using our products or services will only be used in accordance with this policy. Note that this policy does not cover how we use and protect information provided to us from website builder customers. If you are a Go Sitebuilder customer, please see the Go Sitebuilder Privacy Policy. If you are a customer of another company that offers BaseKit’s website builder, please see the company’s privacy policy available via their website. We may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from January 2019.  

2. What information we collect We may collect the information you provide when you get in touch with us via the website, email, or phone.
  • You transfer your information to us via the website by filling in and submitting a form. We offer a number of different forms to help you find out more about the products and services we offer.
  • We have a number of different email addresses you can use to contact us. If you’re not sure which one to use then we recommend you send an email to
  • We don’t provide a central phone number but BaseKit team members may provide their direct phone number for you to contact them.

3. How we use the information The information that we collect and store about you is primarily used to help us to stay in touch with you to provide our products and services. However, we may also use your information:
  • To improve our products and services
  • To send promotional email communications about special offers, news, product updates or other information which we think you may find interesting
  • To contact you for market research purposes
Note that we will only use your information as described in 3 and 4 above when you have explicitly opted in to receive such communications. You may opt out of these communications at any time by clicking the Unsubscribe link in any email or by sending a request to  

4. Storing your personal data We store the data we collect using third party tools such as CRMs and databases. Any data we store is only accessible directly by a small number of authorised staff. The third parties that we use may store your data in locations outside of the EEA. We carefully review each supplier to ensure they handle data in line with this policy. We will store your data for as long as you remain a customer of BaseKit, or where you have actively been in contact with us about our products and services. We will keep data for up to 5 years if you’re not a customer or if we don’t hear from you.  

5. Security We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic, and managerial processes to secure and safeguard the data we collect and store. The transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of data sent to us electronically. The transmission of data is entirely at your own risk.  

6. How we use cookies A cookie is a small file which allows websites and apps to identify individual users and store information about each user’s preferences. A cookie does not give access to any more information than a user chooses to provide. We use cookies:
  • To identify where visitors to the website came from
  • To identify the content that is being viewed
The third party suppliers that we work with may also use cookies for similar purposes. We carefully review each supplier to ensure they handle data in line with this policy. You may choose to enable or disable cookies. Most web browsers automatically enable cookies, but you can usually modify a browser’s settings to disable cookies if you prefer. If you disable cookies you may not be able to take full advantage of our websites.  

7. Disclosing your information We may disclose your information to third party suppliers that we work with to provide our products and services. We carefully review each supplier to ensure they handle data in line with this policy. We may also disclose your information where we are required to do so by law.  

8. Controlling your personal information You may choose to restrict the collection or use of your personal information in the following ways:
  • When providing any information to BaseKit via this website, you may opt in to receive promotional email communications.
  • If you receive a promotional email, you may opt out by clicking the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
  • At any time you can opt out of promotional email communications by sending a request to
  • If you would like us to delete all the information we have collected about you, send a request to
  • If you would like to otherwise restrict the use of the information we have collected about you, send a request to
  • Should you wish to access the information we hold about you, please send a request to
Save settings
Cookies settings