Some of the biggest names in finance are creating fintech innovation labs to solve the most pressing challenges faced by banks, merchants, and consumers.
With recent advances in blockchain, cryptocurrency, contactless payments, and more, finance is primed for disruption.
As fintech plays a larger role in the financial ecosystem, companies are looking for ways to use tech to solve problems and find new opportunities in the space.
One popular approach: in-house financial innovation labs.
Companies are turning to accelerators, funds, and labs to try to find the next big thing that will reduce fraud, speed up transaction times, and catch on with consumers.
We’ve created a list of finance innovation labs from some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as from newcomers looking to make a name through tech.
1. Visa — One Market Center
Key people: Chris Curtin, Chief Brand & Innovation Marketing Officer; Shiv Singh, Senior Vice President of Innovation & Strategic Partnerships
Visa’s Innovation Center aims to increase collaboration among teams working on tech solutions spanning tokenization, payment apps, mobile location confirmation, and more. The success of the One Market Center location in San Francisco has spurred other Innovation Centers across the world, in locations such as Dubai, Singapore, Miami, and London.
Notable projects: Headquartered in Visa’s London Innovation Center, the recently launched Visa Global Transit Solutions program is working to “accelerate seamless, friction-free commuting with contactless payments.” Visa already teamed up with Transport for London on a contactless payment system that the team now looks to expand to transportation hubs worldwide.
2. DBS Bank — DBS Asia X (DAX)
Key people: Annie Ye, Head of DAX, Senior Vice President, DBS Innovation Group; Neal Cross, Managing Director & Chief Innovation Officer
DBS launched its Singapore innovation lab to break out of its “traditional banking mindset to think, behave, and deliver more like a technology company,” according to Neal Cross, chief innovation officer. DBS leaders expect to see more than 5,000 people actively innovating DBS’ services and operations at DAX each year.
DAX has also worked with the DBS Innovation Group (DiG) on Hack2hire, a hackathon that allows participants to code their way into a career at DBS, and the UNI.CORN management internship program.
Notable projects: DAX teamed up with POSB, part of DBS Group and the oldest local bank in Singapore, to help co-create the POSB Smart Buddy. This program provides free wearable tech to local schoolchildren that helps teach them about financial literacy, monitoring their daily spending and savings habits. Parents can set limits, send emergency cash, and check activity levels via an accompanying app.
3. Fidelity — Fidelity Center for Applied Technology (FCAT) and Fidelity Labs
Founded: 1999 and 2005
Key people: Sean Belka, Head of Fidelity Labs; Katie Chase, Head of Strategy, Fidelity Center for Applied Technology
Fidelity’s in-house Center for Applied Technology focuses using advanced technologies to create new solutions ranging from incremental upgrades to large, disruptive ideas. Coupled with Fidelity Labs, the center has expanded its focuses to incubating new businesses, running innovation boot camps, and stress testing new technology in AI, VR, and wearables. Fidelity Labs is also exploring how AI can improve customer service and FCAT opened a blockchain incubator.
Notable projects: Fidelity Charitable is a public charity that accepts non-cash financial assets. When Bitcoin gained popularity, Fidelity Charitable wasn’t equipped to accept it. Working with FCAT, the charity searched for third-party vendors and iterated testing on compliance with legal and regulatory requirements to be able to accept Bitcoin.
Fidelity Estate Planner was the brainchild of the FCAT and Labs teams. Using pilot program feedback, Labs was able to enhance services by giving Fidelity Financial Consultants the tools needed to make the process easier for both consultants and customers.
4. Wells Fargo — Wells Fargo Labs
Key people: Shari Van Cleave, Head of Wells Fargo Digital Labs; Lisa Frazier, Head of Innovation
Wells Fargo Labs brings together product strategists, developers, and project managers to build innovative new products grounded on a lean startup strategy. The lab aims to improve banking through better uses of technology and has a serious focus on customer participation as the best way to find solutions. It is also looking at integrating banking solutions into wearables and how the internet of things (IoT) could improve the customer experience.
Notable projects: Card Free Access is a program developed out of the lab that allows Wells Fargo Banking customers to access ATMs through a variety of methods without their cards. Customers can use this feature in three ways: ATM access code, mobile wallet access at the ATM, and mobile wallet at the teller.
5. JP Morgan Chase — Financial solutions Lab
Key people: Jennifer Tescher, Founder and CEO of CFSI; Ryan Falvey, Senior Advisor & Former Managing Director at CFSI
JP Morgan’s FinLab is a 5-year program managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation, designed to spur innovations that help Americans save money and improve their credit. Teams work in collaborative groups to develop new financial apps and tools. The program also includes strategic partnerships with groups like Ideo.org and Ideas42. To date, there have been over 30 organizations supported by the lab.
Notable projects: Digit, a winner of the FinLab 2015 Challenge, is an automated tool that helps people save small amounts of money based on their spending habits. FinLab provided $250,000 in prize money. As of 2018, Digit has raised over $36M through subsequent rounds of funding.
6. Citi — Citi Innovation Labs
Key people: Vanessa Colella, Head of Citi Ventures & Chief Innovation Officer
Citi’s global network of Innovation Labs is designed to speed up work on disruptive products and technologies like IoT and blockchain. These labs also manage an internal accelerator program (independent of Citi Ventures) and develop strategic partnerships with other companies, startups, and even universities like Stanford, MIT, Columbia, and UC Berkeley. Citi is currently looking to merge its labs into a more cohesive unit.
Notable projects: D10X is an internal growth model that helps Citi employees identify, test, and validate new ideas and solutions. Two products have been launched through D10X include Proxymity, a digital proxy voting platform, and CitiConnect for Blockchain, formed through a partnership with Nasdaq and the Citi Ventures portfolio company Chain.
Associated funds: Citi Ventures identifies co-investor and partnership opportunities with other VC firms. Acting as a minority investor, Citi Ventures looks for entrepreneurs who are working on next-generation technologies in core business areas like financial services, data analytics, and payments. Startups in the portfolio include Betterment, Square, and UJET.
7. Capital One — Capital One Labs
Key people: James Patterson, Managing VP & Head of Capital One Labs at Capital One
Capital One Labs aims to streamline the product creation process, with a focus on consumer-first design. It operates two labs, one in Washington DC and the other in New York City, which focus on ventures that can have a significant business impact in the short term (from six months to three years). Specifically, the Labs looks to back engineering solutions, customer experiences, and new products that tie in with Capital One’s focus on being a leader in machine learning, payments, and identity.
Notable projects: Capital One Cafes have been popping up in cities all over the country. This brainchild from the Lab offers a way to modernize the traditional retail banking experience. It also serves as a testing ground for new ideas from the Labs via customer feedback, demo bars, and workshops.
8. Deutsche Bank — Deutsche Bank Labs
Key people: Elly Hardwick, Head of Innovation
Deutsche Bank has innovation labs in Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, and most recently, New York (opened in 2017). Deutsche Bank labs connect technology startups with the bank’s internal teams, enabling them to adapt new products and solutions to better serve clients and employees. The labs aim to help Deutsche Bank evaluate and adopt emerging technologies, develop a culture of innovation, and contribute to the bank’s digital strategy.
Notable projects: Eye-tracking solution Eyevido was discovered by the Deutsche Bank Berlin Lab as a very early-stage startup. Working with the lab, the Eyevido team was able to conduct eye-tracking studies of Deutsche Bank’s retail banking websites to help improve the user experience for customers.
9. FIS Global — FIS Innovation Lab
Key people: Leah Middlebrook, VP Business Development, International Payments; Rob Lee, Chief Product Officer
FIS Global operates several innovation centers around the world in cities including New York, San Francisco, London, and Bangkok. These centers are focused on creating new technologies to revolutionize mobile banking, payments, and more, and emphasize relaxed settings where clients and in-house teams work together to solve problems in new ways.
Notable projects: FIS is leaning heavily into natural language processing (NLP) solutions for customers. It plans to roll out over two dozen bots in late 2018 to financial institutions for testing. These bots aim to improve customer experience and reduce manual tasks.
10. Partnership Fund for New York City and Accenture — FinTech Innovation Lab
Key people: Maria Gotsch, President & CEO
The NYC Investment Fund and Accenture jointly run the FinTech Innovation Lab, a 12-week program that focuses on early- to growth-stage startups. Participants get a workspace, mentorship, connections to industry leaders and user groups, feedback on products, and weekly workshops and panel discussions.
At the end of the program, startups participate in a demo day, showcasing their brands to potential investors. Since the lab’s founding, additional labs have been opened in London and Hong Kong.
Notable projects: Pymetrics, a 2014 graduate, is a SaaS tool that taps into neuroscience and AI to evaluate job applicants across a variety of social, emotional, and cognitive traits. Using an algorithm, it recommends candidates to companies. Recently, Pymetrics closed a $40M Series B round.
Cambridge Blockchain, a 2016 graduate, was created as an identity management platform for banks. Using blockchain, multinational banks can put “control of personal identity data back in the hands of the end user,” while also meeting data privacy rules, improving compliance, and enhancing user experience. Cambridge Blockchain recently closed a $7M Series A round led by HCM Capital, the investing arm of Foxconn.
11. PWC — Center for Technology and Innovation (CTI)
Key people: Alan Morrison, Senior Manager, Center for Technology and Innovation
PwC’s Center for Technology and Innovation is a “think tank focused on enterprise IT trends and emerging technologies for chief information officers (CIOs) and other executives.” It publishes quarterly forecasts and white papers that focus on the changing influences of CIOs.
Notable projects: CTI is best known for its publication Technology Forecast. This quarterly journal offers a deep dive on a new topic in each issue. Recent publications have focused on the internet of things, the future of enterprise apps, and emerging patterns in cloud computing.
12. Hitachi — Financial Innovation Laboratory (FIL)
Key people: David Pinski, Chief Strategist & Head of Hitachi’s Financial Innovation Laboratory
Hitachi created the Financial Innovation Laboratory (FIL) to “support customer co-creation projects with financial services clients.” The lab primarily focuses on blockchain, big data, and strategic consulting. The FIL also works closely with Hitachi’s R&D department to find new opportunities in the intersection of financial data, IoT, and industry.
Notable projects: Hyperledger is “an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies.” Hitachi’s FIL has played a significant role in developing the Hyperledger Fabric platform.
A current pilot program teams Hitachi with KDDI to combine blockchain with biometric verification to allow consumers to make transactions.
13. MasterCard — MasterCard Labs
Key people: Michael Miebach, Chief Product Officer
Mastercard Labs wants to “transform the way people pay and get paid.” By investing in technology and innovation, it aims to leverage advancements in payments to help businesses grow and improve consumer shopping experiences.
Mastercard Labs partners with other divisions around the company, including the Innovative Products team, to quickly develop products that push new commerce solutions. Its also expanding its regional focus too, with a recent announcement that the labs will invest more into R&D in India.
Notable projects: Mastercard Labs partnered with Fit Pay, Inc. and Wearatec to develop contactless wearable payments technology. Fit Pay expects to payments-enable more than 9M wearable devices in 2018.
14. Synechron — FinLabs
Synechron has fully invested in the FinLabs concept, with 12 labs now open across the US, Europe, Middle East, and India. These labs aim to act as innovation hubs for banking customers to collaborate and foster new ideas in interactive spaces.
FinLab users have access to digital specialists, R&D experts, and accelerator programs. The labs specifically focus on technology solutions in blockchain, AI, insurtech, and regtech.
Notable projects: A blockchain mortgage lending application looks to harness the power of blockchain technology and apply it to the mortgage industry. Financial institutions using it can decrease errors, fraud, and processing times while improving workflows.
15. GFT Technologies — Digital Innovation Lab
Key people: Paco Amador, Digital Transformation Manager & Innovation Director; Dr. Ignasi Barri Vilardell, Innovation Manager & Head of GFT Digital Innovation Lab, GFT Spain
GFT’s Digital Innovation Lab focuses on improving the consumer banking experience, both online and in branches, while ensuring banks are meeting security and efficiency needs. The lab has different workspaces users can use for hands-on experiences. Its retail space, for example, lets teams test in a model that mimics a typical shopping environment.
In branches, the lab seeks to use digital technology and IoT to provide a more personalized banking experience for consumers. In 2018, GFT acquired the Insurance and Innovation Performance Center run by V-NEO, which will dramatically increase the size of its innovation lab.
Notable projects: GFT and digital bank Fidor AG formed an innovation partnership in 2016. Running out of the Digital Innovation Lab, the focus of the partnership is creating mobile finance and banking apps. One outcome is the mobile o2 Banking solution, an app built for German telecom company Telefónica Deutschland. With o2, Telefónica Deutschland can offer its own full-service mobile bank to customers.
16. Commonwealth Bank — Innovation Labs
Key people: Tiziana Bianco, General Manager of Commonwealth Bank Innovation Labs
With Innovation Labs in Sydney and London, Commonwealth Bank of Australia seeks to execute ideas worldwide through collaborations with startups, customers, and industry experts.
The focus of the lab is split into four Centers of Expertise: blockchain, social robotics & AI, social innovation, and regtech. Within each center, CommBank uses teams of specialists to collaborate on ideas and perform usability testing over an intensive 2- to 3-day period.
Notable projects: The usability testing labs are where CommBank customers can receive feedback to improve their websites, apps, and mobile sites. Experts inside the labs collect data and perform tests with consumers to offer practical new solutions to CommBank customers.
The lab has also been working on a project with CSIRO’s Data61 to develop blockchain powered smart money.
17. BBVA — Innovation Labs
Key people: Carlos Kuchkovsky, Head of Research and Development New Digital Business
BBVA’s customer-centric focus is highlighted through its innovation labs. It does this by “crowd-inventing” — inviting teams across different departments and functions to collaborate under one roof.
BBVA’s “Open Spaces” in Spain, Mexico, and Colombia are its hubs of collaborative innovation. The Open Spaces are also home to BBVA’s Open Talent competition. Now in its tenth year, the competition seeks to “discover the fintech solutions with the most disruptive potential in the financial services industry.”
Notable projects: Selfie & Go was developed startup Veridas, a joint venture between Das-Nano and BBVA. The technology enables consumers to complete payments using a facial recognition system once they have registered via a related app. Currently, BBVA is piloting Selfie & Go in the bank’s restaurants.
18. Rabobank — Innovation at Rabobank
Key people: Siddi Wouters, EVP, Head of Digital Innovation; Harrie Vollaard, Head of Rabo Frontier Ventures
The innovation arm of Rabobank has two main focuses: achieve good financial health and growth, and help solve the global food problem. While these might seem like disparate goals, Rabobank is utilizing big data, blockchain, and IoT technology to explore opportunities for each.
Notable projects: SurePay is a payment authentication service that lets consumers vet the confirmation information of the payee during financial transactions. It was rolled out in 2017 across The Netherlands, reducing mobile fraud in banks that use the service by roughly 30% since being launched.
Associated funds: Rabo Frontier Ventures (RFV) is a €70M investment fund and a subsidiary of Rabobank, aimed to support the bank’s overall innovation strategy. Its focus “is on new business models, often built on emerging (software) technologies in the Fintech and Food & Agri space.” Beyond capital, RFV provides access to the Rabobank network as well as mentorship.
19. BNY Mellon — Global Innovation Centers
Bank of New York Mellon has 9 Global Innovation Centers around the world. Each center was created with a specific focus in mind. However, the overall goal of the centers is to provide hubs for collaboration, finding solutions at “the leading edge of financial technology, powering investment success, and improving lives through investing.” To achieve this goal, the bank works directly with clients to identify specific needs and opportunities for solutions.
Notable projects: A system for better communication between chatbots came out of a hackathon at the Singapore Innovation Center. The BNY Mellon team partnered with Deutsche Bank to create a system that would allow their respective chatbots to integrate. This reduces the number of manual responses on securities trades, allowing information to move more quickly.
20. Barclays — Barclays Accelerator (Powered by Techstars)
Key people: John Stecher, Group Head of Innovation, Barclays; David Cohen, Founder & Co-CEO, Techstars; David Brown, Founder & Co-CEO, Techstars
Barclays Accelerator is a 13-week program run by a full-time fintech-focused team from Techstars. Ten startups are selected from each application group, and cohorts work on finding solutions for challenges in the banking industry. Recent participants have had a heavy focus on blockchain technology.
Successful applications receive full access to Barclays and Techstars networks, mentorship, up to $120K in investments from Techstars, and the opportunity to pitch investors during Demo Days. Startups are able to work from Rise workspaces with locations in London, New York, and Tel Aviv.
Notable projects: Flux, a 2017 graduate from the accelerator, is a software platform that, when connected with partner merchants, allows users to see a full itemized accounting of purchases from within their banking app. It’s currently live on Barclays Launchpad, where Barclays tests new features with customers and is being tested at Costa Coffee and Eat.
21. PayPal — Innovation Lab
Key people: Jerry Tso, Head, Singapore Development Center & Director, Software Development; Joanna Koh, Program Manager, PayPal Innovation Lab & Singapore Development Center
PayPal’s Innovation Lab is billed as a “first-of-its-kind collaboration between PayPal and the Singapore fintech ecosystem, including government agencies, industry associations, small-medium businesses, and universities.”
To find new ideas, PayPal runs an incubator out of its Singapore center that provides advice and support around business infrastructure, access to fintech mentors and business leaders, and a network of investors.
Notable projects: TenX allows users to make payments online and offline at more than 42M merchants in over 200 countries, using debit/credit cards that automatically convert cryptocurrencies into native currencies.
22. TransUnion — Innovation Lab
Key people: John Wirth, VP of FinTech Strategy & Market Development; Steve Chaouki, EVP & Head of Financial Services Business Unit
TransUnion’s Innovation Lab aims to help lenders reduce risk when entering the market by giving them access to data in a fast-paced testing environment. The lab’s goal is to create “an immersive, tailored experience where lenders can learn to accelerate growth by turning data into action.”
Participants can access TransUnion’s proprietary data as well as experts who can help run models in real time. This approach means participants can get a full model analysis in just a few days working with TransUnion’s data experts, versus weeks or months of testing. In 2019, the lab plans to expand to both Canada and India with new innovation centers.
Notable projects: The Startup Credit Kit gives access to depersonalized data to participating startups and investors collaborating with TransUnion. The kit offers two tracks: a Planning Package that provides depersonalized solutions for businesses in the early stages of development, and a Launch Package with personalized solutions for startups that are ready to go live.
23. Morgan Stanley — Multicultural innovation lab
Key people: Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, & Senior Client Advisor
Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab is trying to solve the large gap in funding for minority founders. The lab seeks to back startups that have raised funding and have a “multicultural or woman founder, co-founder, Chief Technology Officer, or other members of C-suite.”
The Multicultural Innovation Lab offers a 6-month intensive accelerator program to a select cohort of startups. It provides $200,000 in funding, a tailored curriculum, office space, mentorship, and access to Morgan Stanley’s global network.
Notable projects: Goalsetter, selected for the lab’s 2018 cohort, is a gifting and savings platform aimed at kids. The startup was also one of the winners at the Center for Financial Services Innovation Fourth Annual $3M Challenge in 2018.
24. US Bank — Innovation Lab
Key people: Dominic Venturo, EVP, Chief Innovation Officer
US Bank’s Innovation concept is simple: it aims to throw out convention and look for great ideas that might be hiding in plain sight. This means encouraging networking, collaboration, and interaction across different divisions of US Bank, as well as with external players. The bank hosts hackathons and frequently meets with small local business owners to listen to their pain points.
Notable projects: Expense Wizard is a new tool launched through the innovation lab that aims to make it easier for business travelers to file expenses.
25. TD Bank Group — TD Lab (Partnered with Communitech)
Key people: Aaron Stuart, Director, TD Innovation Labs
TD Bank Group chose the Communitech Hub as the home base for TD Labs to be at the center of Toronto’s startup scene. The TD Labs team is small and includes a rotating group of interns who can learn about design thinking and problem solving within an environment that embraces experimentation and testing.
The success of the first TD Labs location has prompted the group to open more connected innovation centers across Toronto.
Notable projects: Family Allowance helps families track allowances and chores that kids do to earn money. The app aims to help teach kids the value of money and encourage saving behavior.
26. PNC — iLab
Key people: Karen Larrimer, EVP, Head of Retail Banking & Chief Customer Officer
PNC has a heavy focus on being a customer-centric bank. Subsequently, the goal of iLab is to provide a space to “choreograph PNC consumer experiences, including technology, process and operations, space design, sales and service scripts, and marketing material.”
Every idea that is tested in the lab is focused on improving the overall customer experience at retail banking centers, within apps, or in other digital marketplaces.
Notable projects: PNC Virtual Wallet is an app that allows users to monitor their checking, savings, and spending all in one place. It also lets users schedule reminders for bills and offers a budget feature.
27. Santander — innoventures
Key people: Mario Aransay, Head of Portfolio Partnerships; Manuel Silva, Head of Investments
Santander’s InnoVentures is something of a hybrid between a VC firm and an accelerator. With its $100M fund, it actively seeks to invest in technology that has the potential to disrupt the financial industry and make fintech more accessible.
In addition to providing capital, the InnoVentures team aims to help the startups it invests in find a clear vision around how to grow and scale.
Notable investments: Portfolio investments include Kabbage, an automated platform for small businesses to access capital, and Ripple, a platform that allows users (including banks and financial institutions) to send money globally using blockchain technology.
Recently, it teamed up with Barclay’s to lead investments in a $34M Series B round in MarketInvoice, a UK-based business lender.
28. HSBC — Strategic Innovation Investments (SII)
Key people: Christophe Chazot, Group Head of Innovation; Moran Levinovitz, Investment Director, HSBC Strategic Innovation Investments
Strategic Innovation Investments falls under the umbrella of the corporate venture capital arm of HSBC. SII makes “venture-like minority investments into early-stage companies that have strategic relevance to HSBC.”
The team’s main focus is co-investing on Series C+ funding rounds to companies that offer products or services that would improve HSBC’s financial technology. Portfolio companies tend to fall within big data, open banking, security, and operational efficiency.
SII also manages other consortium investments from across the entire HSBC Group.
Notable investments: Portfolio investments by SII include Kyriba, a cloud-based SaaS treasury management software system, and Symphony, an open architecture communication and content sharing platform for financial services.
29. Bank of America
Key people: Michael Roberts, Chief Marketing & Digital Strategy Officer, Bank of America Merchant Services
Bank of America doesn’t technically have a named innovation lab (yet). However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been laying the groundwork for a potential launch over the last few years.
One place to look is Bank of America Merchant Services (BAMS), which is investing more in merchant technology opportunities, as evidenced by its recent partnership with Stuzo, which provides predictive, personalized commerce solutions.
30. Goldman Sachs
Key people: Richard Rivero, Managing Director & Global Head of IBD Strats at Goldman Sachs; James Morris, Managing Director, Financial Sponsors Group
In late 2017, Goldman Sachs developed an “internal brain trust,” known inside the firm as the Innovation Lab, to start fleshing out new innovative ideas that look beyond Goldman’s typical mergers and acquisitions strategy. Currently, the team is brainstorming ways to expand and improve the company’s retail banking offerings and trading arm.
31. ALLY Financial — TM Studio
Key people: Anand Talwar, Deposit and Consumer Strategy
Ally Financial set up TM Studio in North Carolina to test “new banking concepts.” The studio’s main goals are to “transform business processes, leverage design thinking principles, and deliver innovative solutions for consumers.”
The bank sends rotating teams to the studio to help create prototypes alongside the core TM Studio staff.
32. ICAEW and WWF-UK — The Finance innovation lab
Key people: Anna Laycock, CEO; Marloes Nicholls, Head of Programmes
The Finance Innovation Lab is a partnership between the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The goal is to “change the financial system so it serves people and planet.” Its main focus in doing that is seeking to influence financial policy on the governmental level, promoting sustainability and environmental efforts around the world.
The lab aims to work with people who are looking to influence financial systems to make them more democratic, responsible, and fair.
Notable projects: UnLtd* Future was an incubator for young entrepreneurs focused on social and environmental issues.
33. Bank OZK — OZK Labs
Key people: Marcio deOliveira, President of OZK Labs
OZK Labs is tasked with looking at the near future, three to five years down the road, and identifying emerging technologies and innovations.
Intended to mimic the approach of a startup, it aims to find ways to disrupt community banking. OZK Labs’ approach is create products in-house and partner with nascent fintech brands.
Notable projects: In 2018, the lab developed an online account system for Bank OZK’s commercial real estate team, boosting the efficiency of the account setup process.
34. Commerzbank — Main incubator
Key people: Michael Spitz, Chief Executive Officer; Matthias Lais, Founder and COO
Commerzbank developed the Main Incubator as its research and development arm with the aim of creating a “laboratory for tomorrow’s bank” and a focus on emerging technology. Using an incubator approach, it has three overarching goals: invest in fintech related startups, help develop disruptive prototypes, and build a community of entrepreneurs.
Notable projects: Gini is an artificial intelligence powered tool that can pull data from images, including checks, contracts, and receipts, and integrate them into customer’s banking services.
35. USAA — USAA LABS
Key people: Rochelle Tijerina, Director Product Management; Christee Kahn, Strategic Innovation Manager; Kevin McAdams, Strategic Innovation Manager
USAA created its lab to explore ways innovation could improve its customer service approach. The lab encourages USAA members to submit ideas for solving problems via innovation challenges and projects. Members are also invited to participate in pilot programs to test products and give feedback as they are developed.
Notable projects: USAA Labs developed a disaster portal for members to use in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It helped members to submit claims and connect with customer service reps.
36. Eastern Bank — Eastern Labs
Key people: Ashley Nagle Eknaian, Chief Digital Strategist and Head of Eastern Labs
Eastern Labs is looking to innovate in the small business banking arena, such as small business loans. By leveraging industry and customer data, the lab is tasked with providing a competitive advantage over other regional banks which serve similar customers.
Notable projects: Numerated is a digital loan approval service that was developed by Eastern Labs. The platform was successful enough that Eastern Labs spun it out into its own company.
37. UBS — Wealth Management Innovation Lab
Key people: Mike Dargan, Global Head of Technology; Martin Meyer, Head Innovation and Client Centric Design, Global Wealth Management
UBS’ Wealth Management Innovation Lab has a narrow focus on finding innovations and technologies that can help improve the wealth management process for clients. It also looks to arm its advisors with better tools that can help them stand out in a crowded market. The lab uses a “research and development approach designed to incubate creative ideas into testable prototypes within a sandbox environment.”
Notable projects: The lab created an Amazon Alexa skill called Ask UBS. It’s intended to help answer users’ questions about the economy and wealth management, as well as provide basic information on specific investments.
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