The Best Global Banking Innovations in 2019

Innovation has become the foundation for digital transformation at financial institutions globally. Now more than ever, banks and credit unions are increasing the pace of innovation and generating measurable results. Here is a summary of the best-of-the-best recognized by Efma and Accenture's innovation awards program.

Phygital Distribution and Experiences – Krungsri Bank

Krungsri Bank from Thailand found that commercial banks did not do well in supporting a positive customer experience with the mortgage loan customer journey. Research by the bank found that customers felt staffs were not energetic and were often not service-minded. Secondly, customers felt that bank staffs did not inform them about terms and conditions, costs involved with the process, etc. Lastly, customers felt that bank staffs did not follow up well regarding customer applications and status of the loan process.

Bottom line, the bank realized that to win over mortgage borrowers, they needed to improve the mortgage customer experience through the bank sales staffs and business partners. As a result, the bank set out to improve the mortgage borrowing journey by connecting it with home buying journey. The bank connected a new smart sales tool with business partners across the home buying spectrum via “Krungsri Homeloan Connect,” using Open APIs to facilitate the process.

The program was called “Krungsri Digital Homeloan.” Before the program was initiated, Krungsri bank was ranked fourth in market share and sales volumes for mortgage business. By the end of 2018, market share grew 34%, moving the bank to second.

Silver went to Garanti BBVA (Turkey) and bronze to Maybank (Malaysia).

Social, Sustainable and Responsible Banking – BNP Paribas

France’s BNP Paribas has increasingly focused on sustainability across the organization, with new green financing initiatives as well as public engagement across all platforms. By embedding the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the core of its strategy, business model and culture, BNP Paribas has integrated sustainability in all its business lines and broadened its product offering. As part of this focus, ClimateSeed was launched by BNP Paribas to show how innovation and sustainability together can accelerate positive impacts.

ClimateSeed is a voluntary carbon offsetting platform to help connect organizations with tangible projects to cut carbon emissions. The ClimateSeed digital marketplace connects businesses looking to offset their carbon emissions and contribute to the UN SDGs with project developers offering voluntary carbon credits and looking for funding. ClimateSeed aims to increase the transparency, security and efficiency of the voluntary carbon market through a thorough verification process, that is built on a simple, secure, and user-friendly digital platform.

ClimateSeed is a social purpose business launched during the Global Social Business Summit in November 2018 with Nobel Peace prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. The entire project, business plan, and articles of association have been reviewed by Grameen Creative Lab, which has the mission of helping organizations implement social businesses as a way to meet society’s most pressing needs. As a Social Business, ClimateSeed must reinvest its profits to maximize its environmental and social impact and includes projects that create decarbonization educational programs as an example.

One of the strongest benefits of ClimateSeed is that it combines the financial and operational strength of a top-tier bank, the agility of a startup, and the legitimacy of a Social Business. The team is working to develop a network of international clients and partnerships and is willing to maximize the social and environmental benefits of its solution.

Silver went to PKO Bank Polski (Poland) and bronze to Commonwealth Bank (Australia).

Workforce Experience – Alior Bank

One of the key drivers of the “Digital Disruptor” strategy for Poland’s Alior Bank includes creating a positive organizational culture and high employee engagement. One of the goals was to have a 60% employee engagement rate by 2020. The bank wanted to create a truly digital and flexible working space that allows employees to communicate, collaborate and complete tasks effectively. To make this happen, the bank provided employees with tools that will let them to collaborate and communicate effectively both inside and outside of the office environment.

To achieve this, Alior cooperated with Innergo Systems to fully equip employees with iPhones. Alior Bank delivered these employees safe smartphones with a preinstalled set of applications, which were ready to use in just three minutes, without any technical expertise. More specifically, MDM (mobile device management) software allowed the bank to manage employees centrally.

The bank also used the COPE concept (company-issued personal-enabled) – which separates employee’s company profile from their private one – allowing employees to use these smartphones for all purposes in a safe and transparent way. Access to apps such as cloud collaboration, video chats and messenger utilities supported an agile way of working. New devices were also deployed with an emphasis on ensuring corporate security and increasing employee productivity.

The bank also launched a multi-functional portal for employees called Kompas, which is available in a web and mobile app version. Kompas functions as an internal social platform for the bank’s employees, which allows them to discuss, communicate, receive fresh news, create groups, define goals and verify questions with managers. Designed according to the latest UX trends, the portal has centralized many functions that were once dispersed.

Silver went to FNB (South Africa) and bronze to CSOB (Czech Republic).

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Global Innovator of the Year: DBS Bank


DBS Bank from Singapore is the first bank to concurrently hold the “World’s Best Bank” title from Euromoney, Global Finance and The Banker, three of the financial industry’s most prestigious publications. The common thread in these awards is that they were conferred to the bank for leadership in digitalization and innovation.

The Euromoney citation said: “No other institution has worked so hard to embrace and lead digital disruption, and while some banks demonstrate their technological prowess with impressive apps, DBS does so by embedding digital innovation into everything it does – with a tangible positive impact on the bottom line.”

The bank’s innovation agenda is driven by:

  • Being digital to the core, like a tech company. Moving from legacy technology (e.g. data centers) to cloud-native technology (85% of technology in-sourced; over 80% of open systems cloud-ready; over 60 cloud- native applications).
  • Embedding ourselves in the customer journey. Seamlessly embedding the bank’s services into customers’ everyday lives, through industry partnerships and APIs.
  • Creating a 27,000-person start-up culture. Encouraging experimentation and an entrepreneurial culture.

A key priority at DBS is driving a tech and data-driven start-up culture throughout the entire 27,000 strong organization. This priority has board-level and senior management buy-in, and is embraced organization-wide. Some initiatives undertaken include:

  • Organizing over 300 innovation-centric events, such as hackathons, involving over 17,000 staff so staff could learn by doing.
  • Encouraging a culture of experimentation and removing the stigma of failing — by giving awards for failing.
  • Establishing a Data Heroes program to equip employees with big data and data analytics skills. Over 16,000 staff have been trained over the past 18 months, and over 200 data analytics projects were completed in 2018.

Finally, the bank has built an end-to-end cross-border blockchain trading platform and POS Smart Buddy – the world’s first in-school wearable tech savings and payments program. DBS Bank’s institution-wide embrace of digitalization has led to embedding innovation throughout the bank.

Silver went to Santander (Spain) and bronze to CaixaBank (Spain).

“These innovations are proof of banking leaders transforming the retail financial services landscape and reshaping the future of the industry,” said Vincent Bastid, Efma’s CEO. “Every year it is exciting to see innovative solutions developed around the world. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners for their achievements.”

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