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Innovations are evaluated on the core tenets of originality and impact. Beyond this, judges are interested in understanding the big how, the cultural element, the universality and scalability of an innovation, its creativity, simplicity, opportunity to challenge the status quo and the collaboration (including cross-industry) required to bring the solution to life.


Painting the picture to include such elements in your entry will strengthen your case as a prospective Award-winner.


All submissions for each innovation category must be complete and launched in the market after July 2017. All awards recognize organizations– not specific individuals.

Awards will be bestowed for the following categories:

Best Application of Advanced Technology in a Product or Service

Products or services recognized in this category should demonstrate the integration of best-in-class technology to provide a radically improved or value-added customer experience differentiated by its leading technology. Examples of such advancements could include data analytics, leveraged big data, AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, augmented reality, biometrics and more.

The end-result must be a significantly improved or differentiated product or service that solves a real customer problem.

Innovative Touchpoints and Connected Experiences

Innovations should reflect cutting edge approaches to delivering a consistent, contextual and connected experience in a multi-channel environment (across omnichannel, digital, mobile or physical touchpoints), and can be either internally-facing for employees or externally-facing for customers. 

Examples may include mobile and social touchpoints, advances in self-service, contact centers with digital operations, API-enabled knowledge centers, Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), remote-enabled relationship management services, intranet or communication portals or mechanisms, interactive learning experiences and more. 

Internal Process Innovation

Innovations in internal process improvement incorporate investments in technology or other to significantly upgrade aspects of infrastructure or operating efficiencies. These are internal in nature, meaning they either enable people to do their jobs better to deliver exceptional service, or they might improve an organization’s workflows, enhance corporate sustainability, or improve risk, cybersecurity or fraud management protocols. 

Innovation in Societal and Community Impact

Innovations of this kind are tailor-made or enhanced products and services that provide new forms of accessibility to meet the needs of customers with special circumstances. Financial services organizations may also submit initiatives demonstrating the highest level of commitment to ethical business practices that honor consumers and inspires other financial institutions to operate with the same level of integrity.

Examples could include: The removal of barriers to interaction or physical access, unlocking new financial access for an underserved population, investments in environmental or societal causes that benefit specific communities, connecting underserved customers with specialized opportunities, enabling a dramatic lift in the community service of the institution or even improving social and emotional well-being (for example, in times of disaster relief).

Human Capital Innovation

Human capital innovations are recognized as strategies, investments or actions taken to creatively shape the governance of an organization’s employees or programs. In short, they are HR innovations. These might entail a significant cultural or change management shift, or forward-thinking approaches to workforce management, the employee experience, learning and development, diversity, inclusion, collaboration, leadership, strategy, performance management, employee resources, innovation management practices and culture itself.

RegTech Innovation

RegTech innovations should provide unique solutions for key regulatory compliance challenges, such as AML-KYC, GDPR, transaction monitoring, the automation of regulatory reporting, efficient use of data, reduction of the operational costs associated with risk management and more. Collaborative solutions where banks, regulators and solution providers are working together to solve common challenges and build a more secure financial ecosystem for all are strongly encouraged.

Innovation in Marketing

Innovations in marketing should demonstrate original, engaging campaigns supported by cutting edge deployment tactics and techniques. These could also include content produced for niche customer audiences, clever PR and ad campaigns that capture the imagination and depict truths inherent in the customer experience or successful crisis or change management communications. 

Innovation in Customer Experience

Customer experience innovations should reflect the organization’s ability to leverage emerging technologies to hone in on customer preferences to improve the intuitiveness and engagement of product features for an excellent client experience. These solutions should really make use of the new – personalized – technologies to offer relevant services for a particular event in a context, at a location and moment in time.

Examples may include: new routines designed to provide a consistent and excellent experience, newly released, simplified UX across digital channels, data-driven, tailored experiences and more. 

Business Model Innovation

To remain competitive organizations must disrupt themselves and introduce business models that reflect the changing nature of how customers want to do business and interact. Business model innovations should demonstrate new methods of operation that are profitable because they are customer-centered. How are financial services organizations reducing costs to the customer while elevating or tailoring services provided?

Innovations may also include open banking enablement as P2D2 gains momentum and customers look to banks to connect them with the financial ecosystem that meets their individual needs through APIs and open banking.

Innovative Accelerator or Incubator

Many financial services organizations are forming accelerators or incubators to specialize in and accelerate innovation and product development. The Innovation Circle wants to know what makes your program/group unique. What obstacles were overcome to bring your incubator or accelerator to life, and what new value has it brought to the organization? How does your output relate to corresponding business lines in the bank?

Outstanding Achievement Awards

The Innovation Circle will award five Outstanding Achievement Awards to financial services nominees who submitted innovations across the 10 categories to recognize the Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services, the Most Innovative Community Banking Initiative, the Most Innovative Growth Initiative (for 2019 only), Oustanding FinTech Achievement and the Most Innovative Financial Services Organization of the Year.

These awards are specifically designated for organizations that have made considerable strides towards advancing innovation within the financial services sector.

These exceptional awards are characterized as follows:

Most Innovative Financial Services Organization of the Year

Quite simply, the winner of this Award is an organization for which innovation is a core component of their organizational DNA, possessing an innovation framework or processes that are supported by all levels of leadership. This organization exhibits innovation through new-to-the-world products or services leading to unparalleled customer satisfaction and loyalty, while realizing significant market and business impacts.

This organization is driven by market insights, consumer preferences, and a desire to continuously disrupt one’s self to provide an unrivaled banking experience.

Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services

The disruptive innovation in financial services award recognizes a ground-breaking product, service or business model that disrupts business as usual, and provides financial products or services directly to consumers.

Most Innovative Community Banking Initiative

The Innovation Circle will reflect on the pool of entries across all primary categories to specifically recognize a community banking initiative that demonstrates an unparalleled level of originality, results and innovation excellence.

Most Innovative Growth Initiative

According to recent BAI data, financial services organizations are prioritizing growth for 2019. The most innovative growth initiative will be awarded from the overall pool of entries based on the tangible growth objectives achieved and demonstrated through the implementation of an innovation across any award category.

Outstanding FinTech Achievement

The importance of technology to the modernization of financial services and thus the customer experience cannot be overstated, though it can be rewarded. The Outstanding FinTech Achievement will be awarded for considerations ranging from: mission and purpose, effectiveness, simplicity, an excellent user experience, tangible outcomes, a promising growth trajectory and a positive impact on the financial services industry overall.


Please note BAI reserves the right to refrain from awarding winners or finalists for any category should none naturally emerge.

If you’re uncertain about which category your innovation might fall under, it might be helpful to review previous innovation winners as you select the corresponding category for your submission. You can also email globalinnovations@bai.org with any questions.