Six in 10 global banks are open to partnering with financial technology companies, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by IDC Financial Insights and sponsored by software provider SAP, surveyed respondents from 265 retail and corporate banks in 24 countries on how they are driving digital transformation.

Of the banks surveyed, 34% said they are open to collaborating with fintechs, while 25% would consider an acquisition. This approach, the final report concludes, is critical for banks to deliver new services quickly to the market and enhance their digital transformation.

An increasing number of banks worldwide have already discovered the potential of partnering rather than competing with fintechs, and as a result, investments by banks in fintechs are on the rise. Last week, Ripple, a leading distributed ledger company, announced it had completed a US$55mn Series B financing, with Standard Chartered Bank as one of the investors. In return, the bank will be given an observer board seat at Ripple. The bank said that through the investment it can “leverage Ripple’s expertise and co-develop more commercially viable applications to support the evolving needs” of its clients and ecosystems.

According to Rob Hetherington, SAP’s global head of financial services, the next year will see far greater collaboration, integration and acquisitions between banks and fintechs.

“Banks are in the midst of digital transformation, looking for ways to speed their time to market and to deliver new value or services to customers,” he says. “Start-ups on the other hand are mobile, agile and built solely for the customer, yet they lack the regulatory know-how and customer confidence that large, global banks have. Both have something the other wants.”

The IDC study also assessed the levels of digital transformation maturity of the banks surveyed. It found that while most banks claim to be digitally savvy, most digitisation initiatives are still ad hoc and at line-of-business level. Almost half of the banks were categorised in the lowest two maturity tiers out of five.

The report found that banks in Europe are more likely to view fintechs with suspicion rather than as a partner, and are more reluctant to buy up a potential rival. This mistrust and unwillingness to invest in fintechs may place European banks at a “competitive disadvantage in time to market and overall solution cost,” the report says.

While the relationship between banks and fintechs is improving, banks must do more to implement the key lessons learned from fintechs, the paper concludes.