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International innovation meets industry impact

Oct 18, 2017 / Technology

“We’re all dreamers in this room.”

So Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President and Group Head, Emirates NBD, declared to a capacity crowd at the Georgia World Congress Center. And if prestige as a leading global financial services innovator is where dreaming leads, Sarkar stood in good company.  

Sarkar, one of the winners at the BAI Global Innovation Awards at this year’s BAI Beacon in Atlanta, accepted the Most Innovative Financial Services Organization of the Year Award for the United Arab Emirates-based financial institution.

As hundreds of executives from across the financial services sphere watched Sarkar accept the honor, you can bet some took notes as well. The grand unveiling of the 2017 winners, which closed out day one of BAI Beacon two weeks ago, set a high bar for others in the field to clear—while also providing a good dose of leadership by example.

“Finalists and winners demonstrated the leadership position established financial institutions and FinTech startups worldwide are taking to reinvent the customer experience,” said Amy Radin, Founder, The Daily Innovator LLC and Innovation Circle judge.

And how are they doing this? According to Radin, they’re leading the industry through efforts to “bring the underserved into the financial system, partner to drive results, facilitate commerce across borders, and build cultures where employees see innovation as everyone’s role.”

Conny Dorrestijn, CEO of Shiraz Partners and a judge for this year’s Awards program said “banks are now finally focusing on delivering a relevant experience at that moment in time in that particular context…. In short: everyone is a user and a client and collaboration is key for success. ‘Gadgets and gimmicks’ are on the way out.”

And this trend goes beyond banks, extending to the broader financial services ecosystem where startups, FinTechs and vendors play an important role. This marked the first time in the Award program’s seven-year history that submissions opened up to non-traditional providers and the diversity of the approaches to solve problems—ones customers themselves might’ve missed—took center stage through the shortlisted innovations spanning the Award categories.

“I think the diversity of innovation this year has been astounding,” said Alex Sion, GM, Mobile Channel, JPMorgan Chase and an awards judge. “New, innovative approaches aren’t just about technology: It’s about new approaches to human behavior and interaction. Excelling in this game will be fundamentally about new approaches to people, whether customers or employees. So I think it’s only right that we recognize and call out innovation in these spaces. It’s crucial for success.”

“Innovation is how ideas morph into practical solutions that provide tangible value to consumers,” said BAI CEO and President Debbie Bianucci. “This is why the theme for the celebration was ‘Innovation with Impact’—the value of an innovation should be measurable in some way. These outcomes compound and ultimately move the industry forward. It’s important for BAI to celebrate this progress at a global level, and share these stories so others can learn and drive positive change.”

“Innovation has become a major driver for companies to sustain and grow their business, especially in the financial sector,” said Adrian Li, Executive Director & Deputy Chief Executive, The Bank of East Asia and Innovation Circle judge. Li noted that the early stage of the Awards program revealed trends in web, mobile and omnichannel initiatives.

“However, as these elements have matured, the focus has shifted from technological advancement to enhancing the customer experience,” Li said. “This year, we saw nominees adopting big data and artificial intelligence to provide innovative services, reaching a new level of customer satisfaction.” 

While customer experience has always served as a major driver for innovations honored through the BAI Global Innovation Awards—and still does—an emphasis on customer-centricity and data analytics, contextual banking and machine learning emerged regardless of category or whether the innovation was external or internal.

This year’s 46 finalists, spread across the 10 primary Award categories and three Outstanding Achievement Award themes, represented 28 global financial services providers, with several organizations taking multiple spots in the rankings. The Innovation Circle then selected 14 winners based on the originality and impact of the innovation. They are:

Outstanding Achievement Award Winners

Most Innovative Financial Services Organization of the Year
Emirates NBD Bank (United Arab Emirates)

Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services
Taqanu opens the financial ecosystem for anyone by using a blockchain-based digital ID to enable financial inclusion and create equal opportunities

Disruptive Business Banking Solution
B2B Pay
Virtual bank accounts with unique IBAN numbers in the EU

Award Winners across the 2017 Categories

Product and Service Innovation
Pay-per-mile car insurance

Channel Innovation
HDFC Bank Limited
HDFC Bank OnChat

Innovation in Societal and Community Impact
Taqanu opens the financial ecosystem for anyone by using a blockchain-based digital ID to enable financial inclusion and create equal opportunities

Innovation in Payments & Wallets
B2B Pay
Virtual bank accounts with unique IBAN numbers in Europe

Internal Process Innovation
Intelligent Workforce Management

Innovation in Marketing
Yapı Kredi
Self Service World

Innovation in Human Capital
Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center
Leveraged sharing economy and alternative currency

Innovation in User Experience
Yapı Kredi
Touch One Screen Experience

Innovative Accelerator or Incubator
FinTech Unconference

Breakthrough Collaboration in Financial Services
Bank Millennium S.A. and PKO Bank Polski
E-administration in digital banking

Learn more about the winning innovations at BAIGlobalInnovations.com and consider submitting nominations for the 2018 Awards program. Your innovation could provide next year’s inspiration—especially if you dare to dream.  

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Angela Hills is BAI’s manager, events and strategic programs.