In categories from AI to UX, we pick the past year’s best innovations in the finance sector.
From the world’s great innovators come the innovations—the tools, products and ideas—that push beyond the status quo and open new possibilities. Our annual Innovation issue includes a collation of the year’s best innovations in the finance sector. This year, these included, as always, many tech tools in a range of key business areas such as forex, UX, open banking and payments. Whether for doing more with less or offering nonbanking services, new opportunities for the most innovative and savviest financial organizations have opened with artificial intelligence (AI), distributed ledger technology and open standards. Across the customer spectrum, from retail to corporate banking, clients can select more intuitive experiences while accessing more actionable information than ever before.
This year, as our editors combed entries and news reports to identify the finance sector’s best innovations, we also saw fresh ideas in marketing, in meeting demand for ESG-friendly financial vehicles, and in training programs to expand human capacity—whether of employees or clients. Discussions with industry sources identified more possibilities, expanded context and new categories. Here we present them all, the year’s best innovations in finance, acknowledging trailblazers that have implemented novel offerings and improved user experiences. A full list appears at the bottom of the page.
Editor’s note: Innovations from DBS and HSBC are featured with the global winners.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: AI
Innovation: InfoNina – AI-powered conversational system with a speech analysis platform
Company: Alior Bank
In early 2021, Poland’s Alior Bank introduced InfoNina, the first AI banking voicebot in Central and Eastern Europe supported by an automated conversation analytics platform. It was further enhanced in 2022 to become a multichannel adviser able to answer questions, execute selected transactions and—of particular technical interest—understand more than two intentions within a customer’s single statement. The platform has used its advanced natural language understanding capabilities to analyze more than 25 million customer conversations and has been particularly useful in generating sales leads. In 2022, InfoNina contributed to more than 25 million Polish zloty (about $6 million) in credit product sales at Alior Bank.
Innovation: Georgian Speech Technologies – Natural Language Understanding tool
Company: Bank of Georgia
The Georgian language is spoken by only 4 million people; so when Bank of Georgia developed its AI chatbot between August 2020 and March 2023, it not only provided semi-automated assistance relating to bank products and services but provided a boost to the Georgian language. Within the bank proper, multidomain virtual assistants now generate reasonable, humanlike answers to customer queries, identifying topics with 90% accuracy. But the technology may soon find uses outside the bank—given that the purely phonetic Georgian speech-to-text model works with 95% precision, significantly exceeding Google’s 60% accuracy rate.
Innovation: Camelot Shorter Tenor
What are the odds that a bank will lose a given credit customer? Mexico’s Citibanamex turned to AI to provide some answers. In June 2023, it launches Camelot Shorter Tenor, the latest solution in its Camelot series, to estimate the probability that a customer will “attrit” from the payroll portfolio within a 6-month window. If the algorithm predicts that a customer is likely to walk away, the bank can make new short-term offers. The solution makes use of an advanced “tree-based, gradient boosting” AI algorithm with 24 features. It has enabled Citibanamex to expand credit eligibility to clients with less well-established credit histories by more than 30%.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: BLOCKCHAIN
Innovation: Digital transformation program
Company: Bank ABC
Bank ABC is playing a key role in the Gulf region’s first blockchain-based cross-border instant payment solution. Working with JP Morgan and Aluminium Bahrain—and under the leadership of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB)—the bank sent a test payment in US dollars from Bahrain to the US in a record 48 seconds early last year. The bank is also collaborating (through ABC Labs) with several central banks, including CBB, in studying and launching central bank digital currencies. The institution is now scaling up its blockchain-based payment service for corporate clients in multiple currencies and will allow programmable payments eventually too.
Innovation: Renewable energy blockchain trading platform
Company: CTBC Bank
Working with multiple partners, including power generation operators and electricity vendors, CTBC Bank jointly built Taiwan’s first blockchain-based green electricity trading platform, launched in September 2022. Electricity sellers upload information related to their green energy power generation to the platform, which then automatically calculates the amount of trade receipts and payments and also conducts cash flow transactions. It has eliminated reliance on paper bills for reconciliation and transfer payments, previously an expensive and time-consuming process.
Innovation: Compliance Aware Token Framework (CATF)
CATF is one of the first technologies that automates compliance by embedding identity, risk, security, transaction and liquidity rules into digital tokens. Launched by US fintech Securrency in November 2022, it builds rule sets into digital tokens that enable identity authentication and authorization, and ensure satisfaction of securities regulations and transaction and liquidity requirements. It also automates multijurisdictional compliance and risk-management functions, such as preventing fraud, enforcing holding periods, and applying trading volume and collateralization rules. With the regulated asset tokenization market predicted to boom to $16 trillion globally by 2030, the company believes that more financial institutions will be looking for solutions that embed compliance within digital tokens.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: CONSUMER FINANCE
Innovation: Robotic process automation (RPA)
Company: Banka Kombetare Tregtare Kosove
The implementation of RPA technology in August 2022 has made Banka Kombetare Tregtare Kosove an innovation leader in the Kosovar bank market. Loan processing times have been reduced by up to 80%, and customer satisfaction has increased. It’s also boosted back-office productivity and allowed bank branch staff to focus more on customer relationship-building and sales. RPA has also been used by the bank to register loans in insurance funds. Looking ahead, the bank anticipates more-complex RPA uses, including loan underwriting, account opening and customer onboarding.
Innovation: Broker 2.0 project
Company: Eurasian Bank (Kazakhstan)
Eurasian Bank has led the charge in Kazakhstan toward ever-faster online consumer-lending solutions; most notable is its Broker 2.0 project, introduced in 2022, to facilitate lending to customers making retail purchases online. Loan approval typically takes 30-40 seconds, but Eurasian Bank has streamlined that down to four seconds. About 30% of participating site visitors now choose Eurasian for their financing. The bank has seen 88% loan growth through online channels and 3 million customers were processed in eight months during 2022, many for the purchase of household appliances.
Innovation: Advisor Match
Company: Merrill Wealth Management
An industry first, the new Advisor Match algorithm from Merrill Wealth Management matches wealth management prospects with advisers based on personal preferences and data collected from an easy-to-take questionnaire. Clients are asked 17 questions online—such as rating themselves on an introversion/extroversion scale. Almost immediately, the app generates names and contact information for advisers who are deemed a good fit. Clients are encouraged to contact the advisers directly. Earlier, wealth management prospects were offered limited search capabilities to find an adviser. Since Advisor Match’s September 2022 launch, 94% of surveyed clients rated their adviser a 9 out of 10.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: E-COMMERCE
Innovation: Payment Manager
Company: Bank of Georgia
Bank of Georgia’s Payment Management platform is the first online payment management platform in the Republic of Georgia. Launched in 2023, it enables businesses to manage payments independently and integrate various digital payment tools in their online shops without additional help from developers. Businesses can deposit traded money in an instant, for example, and receive analysis of payment results. They can also cancel transactions as needed or give refunds to customers, all on a single platform.
Innovation: Emerging Commerce Collaboration Model
Company: CTBC Bank
Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) are the mainstay of Taiwan’s economy, so it isn’t surprising that CTBC launched the island republic’s first collaboration model in emerging commerce (such as social commerce or property technology) designed especially for MSEs. It leverages technology and service capabilities from both banking and nonbanking partners to accelerate digital innovation in the ecosystem. Sales orders, for example, can be completed in one day compared with three to five days in the past. It also has reduced payers’ drop-out rates by 30%. The bank soon plans to extend the model to Southeast Asia.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: SUSTAINABILITY/ESG
Innovation: Sustainability linked bond; Tuya’s hybrid social bond
Bancolombia played a crucial role in the debut of the first tier 2 subordinated social bond in the Colombian market, issued to regulated financial services firm Tuya, a subsidiary of Bancolombia. The $11.7 million bond is equipped with a call option and loss-absorption mechanism that helps mitigate solvency risks—an unprecedented move in Colombia. Bancolombia recognized the need for more advanced and flexible financial products for consumer finance companies operating in the Colombian market. The bank also played a vital role in educating and advising prospective investors and market intermediaries on the transaction.
Meanwhile, Bancolombia reinforced its position as a sustainable financing leader by issuing the first sustainability-linked bond issued in Latin America and the Caribbean. The bond’s ambitious sustainability objectives for 2025 include providing financing to over 1.5 million low-income underbanked or underserved individuals as well as decreasing CO2 emissions. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and IDB Invest were the issuance’s primary investors.
Innovation: Electric car comparator
In the first quarter of 2022, BBVA launched a novel electric car comparison service, which supplements customers’ vehicle purchasing decisions with impartial and relevant information about any new conventional or electric vehicle currently available in the Spanish market. The service enables customers to compare many factors including fuel/energy consumption and carbon footprint, in alignment with growing sustainability concerns disrupting the auto industry and its products. BBVA says it is committed to steering its customers toward a more sustainable future, and this initiative is a testament to this pledge. The service is currently accessible on the bank’s mobile app in Spain, and ongoing innovations and upgrades are expected to be made available.
Innovation: BRK RMM blue bond
Company: BTG Pactual
BTG Pactual played a key role in the first-ever blue bond issuance in Brazil. The aim is to increase access to water and sanitation in Alagoas State. Brazil is home to almost 35 million people who lack access to clean water, and almost half of the population lacks wastewater collection, making this investment crucial to providing basic infrastructure and reducing health risks. The bond issuance, structured using the Blue Bond Framework developed by BRK Ambiental, a Brazilian water services provider, was the first of its kind by a private issuer in Latin America. The UN Global Compact’s Ocean Stewardship Coalition recognized the bond issuance as an important action that aligns with their Sustainable Ocean Principles. Final orderbook demand exceeded 3 billion Brazilian reais (about $600 million). The bank hopes that the issuance will encourage private investors to participate in the effort to clean up Brazil’s waterways.
Innovation: Carbon footprint calculator for natural individuals
CaixaBank has launched a carbon footprint calculator utilizing transactional data to gauge customers’ environmental impact. The tool categorizes each purchase based on the nature of the activity and applies an emission factor to analyze spending. The calculator has received approval from environmental experts who confirm that it complies with legal requirements and scientific advancements. It provides customers with an estimated carbon footprint, comparisons with other users, and recommendations to reduce environmental harm. The calculator aligns with CaixaBank’s sustainability objectives and encourages customers to adopt ecologically healthy habits.
Innovation: ESG marketplace delivered via OneHub
Company: Standard Bank
Standard Bank introduced the environmental, social and governance (ESG) marketplace, a unique digital platform in Africa, in 2022. The platform delivers various sustainable technology tools and innovations intended to expedite the ESG goals of the bank’s clients. The marketplace is customized particularly for the African market and concentrates on five significant areas: supporting sustainability as a strategy, showcasing sustainable and resilient supply chains, enabling efficient use of natural capital, sharing progress toward net-zero goals, and funding solutions for transitioning to net-zero. The ESG marketplace departs from Standard Bank’s conventional finance-focused approach, and the bank is hopeful the initiative will be a significant stride toward hastening the adoption of ESG throughout Africa.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: FOREIGN EXCHANGE
Innovation: Multicurrency Term Deposit
Company: Banka Kombetare Tregtare Kosove
Banka Kombetare Tregtare Kosove introduced a new product in the Kosovar market, called the Multicurrency Term Deposit. This offering enables customers to effortlessly switch between seven currencies while retaining the interest they’ve accrued. As a result, customers can now enhance the diversification of their portfolios by investing in multiple currencies as well as capitalizing on favorable exchange rates. The initiative is part of ongoing efforts by the Kosovar bank to upgrade its offering to customers, providing a smoother, more convenient experience.
Innovation: Citi Velocity 3.0
Citi has launched Citi Velocity 3.0, a web-based single-sign-on platform that consolidates institutional and corporate clients’ access to Citi’s onshore offerings, trading technology and global foreign exchange (FX) capabilities. Clients can access pricing for over 400 currency pairs across 74 countries worldwide, 24/7. The platform’s new HTML5 architecture framework has improved performance compared to previous versions. The deal-booking process is now 71% faster, and order-placement response is 94% faster. Citi Velocity 3.0 represents the bank’s efforts to optimize how customers source eFX liquidity, now providing their FX needs via a single integration point.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: AML / KYC / COMPLIANCE / RISK
Innovation: Fraud risk management end-to-end digitalization project
Company: CTBC Bank
CTBC Bank in Taiwan has stablished the first integrated AI platform for fraud risk management in the country’s financial sector. The project, to address the growing threat of digital fraud attacks and enhance the bank’s fraud management capabilities, spanned two years. It is particularly significant, given that digital transactions now account for over 50% of the market share in Taiwan and the country has the highest fraud rate in the Asia-Pacific region. The platform enables real-time fraud risk assessments that provide results in just 30 milliseconds. The platform’s features include real-time controls, customer profiling and a self-built fraud-detection-score model, providing protection to the bank’s 548 million payment-product customers.
Innovation: Project Eagle Eye – Fraud detection and prevention AI model
Company: Taipei Fubon Bank
Fubon, a bank in Taiwan, last year created the country’s first AI machine learning model for fraud detection and prevention. The model utilizes pattern recognition and advanced data analytics to evaluate transactions and customer behavior, providing a risk score based on the probability of fraud. With the previous fraud detection approach, the bank had received around 57,000 alerts per month, which made handling unmanageable. But with the AI model, the bank has improved its fraud detection capabilities, achieving a 70% true positive rate and a 98% reduction in false positives. Fubon says the AI platform significantly enhanced its fraud management and prevention efforts.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: HUMAN RESOURCES
Innovation: Metaverse Experience
Company: Banco Bradesco
Banco Bradesco is the first Brazilian bank to provide comprehensive training on Web3 to its staff. Via the newly introduced Metaverse Experience, the program aims to educate employees in navigating the metaverse, in anticipation of the bank’s plans to design products and services within the virtual world. The initiative involved a 10-day immersive training session at the bank’s headquarters in São Paulo and was made feasible with the support of four tech companies: 4Dmais, Capgemini, Globant and Netspaces. Over 2,000 individuals participated in the training, from interns to top-level executives.
Innovation: CRDB Bank’s tech-talent-as-a-service program
Company: CRDB Bank
CRDB Bank launched Tanzania’s first “tech talent as a service” program in 2022 in collaboration with a local academic institution. The program aimed to develop software engineering skills and create a fintech talent pipeline for the gig economy. The program offers hackathons, mentorship, exchange programs and other work-based learning opportunities, starting with 100 students from the University of Dar es Salaam, to enhance their skills in product management, user experience/user interface (UX/UI) design, solution analysis and more. The program is part of CRDB Bank’s efforts to address talent shortages in the fintech industry in emerging markets, preparing students for the digital innovation era and promoting their future success in the fintech industry.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: MARKETING
Innovation: Metaverse BraBlox
Company: Banco do Brasil
Financial education can’t begin soon enough—at least in the view of some institutions like Banco do Brasil, which created a virtual world so its future customers can learn something about personal finance while navigating the metaverse. Metaverse BraBlox is a children’s game that aims to “connect the young public to the company’s brand,” according to the bank. Children and teenagers are guided on online adventures by virtual characters, often traveling to popular Brazilian tourist spots where they have to solve problems tied to real-life financial situations. Banco do Brasil sought young people’s input in developing BraBlox: Many employees’ sons, daughters and grandchildren, as well as other children, participated in workshops.
Innovation: Marketing AI Robot
Company: Taipei Fubon Bank
The more personalized a communication, the more likely a client is to read it—which is why event-based marketing (EBM) is gaining steam. Taiwan’s Fubon Bank’s Marketing AI robot takes things a step farther, automating the EBM process as it divides the bank’s customers into 16 demographic groups. Launched in 2022 and expanded in 2023, it not only shortens customers’ purchase-hesitation period, but it also increases the purchase amount of each investment product. Forty percent of customers opened marketing letters in 2022, versus 22% the year before; and conversion rates doubled with AI Robot. The bank began by marketing three products last year via robot: stocks, bonds and funds; but that number will double in 2023.
Innovation: FoglaljOrvost (“BookDoctors”): OTP Bank’s beyond-banking venture in private health care
Company: OTP Bank
OTP is another institution that is playing the “long” game when it comes to marketing: helping clients with needs not directly related to banking, like health care, to build its presence in clients’ everyday life and generate trust. It is the first Hungarian financial institution to actively participate in customers’ medical needs, developing an online platform that allows clients to book their medical appointments. It has built niche websites in areas like maternity, infertility and orthopedic services too; and it will soon offer expanded health care payment options for more than 300,000 OTP Health Fund clients. Clients will be provided with a reservation checkout where they can pay for medical examinations in advance.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: MOBILE BANKING/APPS
Innovation: Revamped CBQ mobile app
Company: Commercial Bank of Qatar
The Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) has significantly enhanced its mobile app to align with international standards. The revamped app, which was introduced in November, includes features such as a merchant app that enables mobile and QR code payments, a digital wallet with tap-and-pay capability, and caller authentication to reduce fraudulent activity. With over 120 services available, users in Qatar can now access comprehensive mobile banking—this marks the first time a bank in the region has been able to provide such wide-ranging features.
Innovation: Smart IZI
Company: Millennium bim
Over the past year, Millennium bim took multiple measures to improve its services, including launch of the first digital app in Mozambique that allows customers access to Western Union. The bank has also introduced an option for customers to request a personalized or nonpersonalized debit card from an automated self-service machine at some branches. Moreover, Millennium bim is among the first banks in the market to offer a fully digital travel insurance service that covers various medical and other conditions. The bank’s Smart IZI application now includes different term deposit products in its portfolio, making it the first to offer such a service. These achievements strengthened the bank’s position as a regional leader in the sparsely populated region.
Innovation: Digital investment engagement in the NBK mobile application; new NBK mobile banking application
Company: National Bank of Kuwait
The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) mobile application underwent a significant makeover last year as the bank aimed to enhance the convenience of banking for its customers. The updated app includes new features such as shortcuts to frequently used transactions, greater personalization, and a redesigned dashboard for easier navigation between various products and services. Additionally, the bank seized the opportunity to introduce retail-banking customers to investment opportunities via the NBK mobile banking application. By simplifying the onboarding process and reducing the required initial investment amount, the bank hopes to bridge the gap between retail and investment banking, providing both services through one platform.
Innovation: Card information display with augmented reality
Company: Yapi Kredi Bank
Yapi Kredi Bank has introduced the use of augmented reality technology to scan card information in its mobile apps, becoming the first Turkish bank to do so. The feature enables customers to scan their card details by pointing their phone cameras at their cards, allowing them to view their spending information and card details using augmented reality. This saves time and enhances the user experience of the Yapi Kredi Mobil and World Mobil apps, as customers no longer need to enter login passwords. The move reflects the bank’s recognition of the potential of technological advancements in improving the convenience and efficiency of mobile banking.
Innovation: Zenus Visa Infinite debit card
Company: Zenus Bank
Zenus Bank has introduced the Zenus Visa Infinite debit card in a bid to eliminate physical borders as factors obstructing the general public from access to financial services. Through advanced, patent-pending technologies, Zenus is the first digital bank to offer US banking services to non-US residents in over 150 countries. This card is accessible to both individuals and businesses seeking a US bank account. Establishing the card was a daunting task since US bank accounts are challenging to open for non-US citizens.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: OPEN BANKING
Innovation: Bradesco Payment Initiator
Company: Banco Bradesco
In November, Bradesco became the first financial institution to deliver the Central Bank of Brazil’s innovative instant payment system (PIX) to the market. Bradesco customers can now make PIX payments through open finance with the option of choosing their debit institution. They can add money to their own Bradesco account or credit another recipient at any financial institution. An important thing about PIX is that users don’t have to open a bank account to use the system; all one needs is a personal PIX key. This is significant given Brazil’s financially underserved population. As of January 2022, PIX had reportedly been used by 71% of Brazil’s population.
Innovation: Best API banking initiative
Company: Gulf International Bank
The Gulf-region bank’s plan is to make a wide range of traditional and nontraditional banking services available to customers via application programming interface (API) services. Launched in November 2022, its API banking initiative includes mainstream cash management services like account services, payments, collection, virtual account management, Swift gpi and transaction inquiries. It will also soon offer nonbanking services including insurance, education, health care, Umrah and Hajj.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: PAYMENTS
Innovation: ADIB Pay
Company: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank’s ADIB Pay is the first tokenized contactless payment method in the Middle East. This innovation uses either a clasp or a ring that allows Visa cardholders to make contactless purchases with a watch, bracelet or other wrist wearable rather than using a physical credit card. The bank worked with Tappy Technologies and Visa to develop the smart payment device. ADIB Pay demonstrates the bank’s commitment to providing customers with accessible and convenient solutions.
Innovation: BaaS (banking as a service) for crypto
Mercuryo’s BaaS is the first one-stop business-to-business (B2B) solution providing payment and banking functionality for crypto-native businesses. Many such businesses can’t access the same payment services as fiat-native institutions, because of anti-money laundering (AML) and other compliance deficiencies; but this innovation provides crypto-native businesses with the full stack of payment capabilities they need for their operations. Core functions within the BaaS solution include on and off ramps that facilitate exchanging crypto for fiat currency, International Bank Account Numbers for cross-border payments, and embeddable digital wallets. These functions incorporate the requisite licenses as well as know-your-customer (KYC) and AML requirements with a single API integration, so that crypto-native businesses can seamlessly access an infrastructure for fiat currencies.
Innovation: B2B Connect
Visa launched B2B Connect in 2021 after a fundamental shift in corporate behavior created pressure for more-effective payment solutions. This innovation is transparent, affordable and inclusive, the first global multilateral payment network that meets and even surpasses the G20 cross-payments board recommendations. The Visa B2B Connect payment network moves beyond outdated technology to create a solution that allows payment settlements in 20 currencies across a global network of banks in 107 countries. This new solution includes multicurrency netting of incoming and outgoing flows, lowering liquidity requirements across currencies. Visa B2B Connect also needs fewer operations and less staffing, reducing the time and money required for cross-border business payments.
Innovation: Volante ISO 20022 service
Company: Volante Technologies
The Volante ISO 20022 service is the first API and ISO 20022-based software-as-a-service to create, validate and transform financial messages, delivering the industry’s widest range of financial messaging types through one simple integration. Volante Technologies’ solution helps developers and architects address legacy challenges by incorporating ISO 20022 modernization capabilities within their applications in a way that works to preserve and extend the life of their legacy systems. This one integration exercise provides out-of-the-box support for multiple schemes and regulations, simplifying operations across regions and new markets. The APIs can operate in an organization’s data center or private cloud, or as a service in Volante’s cloud. This service helps organizations improve end-to-end processing performance and reduce costs by at least 60% as compared to traditional ISO modernization approaches.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: SME BANKING
Innovation: Arabi Shopix, Arab Bank’s marketplace solution
Company: Arab Bank
Located in the Middle East, Arab Bank’s Arabi Shopix, offered as part of the bank’s bundled services, helps small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) and corporate customers build websites to facilitate their expansion into e-commerce. The e-commerce sites built using Arabi Shopix are all-in-one platforms with end-to-end services from billing to shipping that businesses use to set up online stores and sell directly to customers. With Arabi Shopix, businesses can develop these websites to grow their offerings using a drag-and-drop platform that doesn’t require significant technical expertise, time or financial commitment.
Innovation: Api.bog.ge – API platform
Company: Bank of Georgia
Bank of Georgia’s API.bog.ge is the first API platform for businesses in Central and Eastern Europe to provide companies with various services to encourage growth. This innovation includes API installments that enable businesses to help customers without sufficient funds to purchase goods and services. Bank of Georgia created BOG ID so that its over 900,000 daily users can sign contracts using only biometric information. Using open banking procedures, the bank also simplified information-exchange processes so that customers can securely exchange personal or sensitive information. With this API, companies can create different services for customers, such as a financial advisory and a comparison tool for products and services. Documentation for the API is in both Georgian and English.
Innovation: Payment link in BBVA Enterprises app
Company: BBVA Colombia
BBVA’s payment link in the BBVA Enterprises mobile application facilitates entrée into e-commerce for SMEs and self-employed customers. This innovation eliminates the need to integrate or develop a payment solution on the customer’s own website, so they can grow businesses regardless of infrastructure or location. BBVA customers can send a payment link in an email during the sales process, and the link can be copied and shared through other channels and be available online without requiring one’s own website or e-commerce. Using the link, customers can pay with a credit card, through local online safe payment service PSE or with cash. The payment link is contracted through Openpay Colombia, which is the BBVA Group’s payment gateway member, under the aggregator model. Customers can choose the account and payment date for their sales.
Innovation: Phuka Incubator Hub
Company: Standard Bank Malawi
Standard Bank Malawi’s Phuka Incubator Hub is a program that helps early-stage SMEs obtain financial and nonfinancial support through a self-study platform, mentoring, collaborations, and various activities such as networking events. The hub works with businesses to develop resilience, local capabilities and sustainability while creating an inclusive environment for women and young entrepreneurs. The curriculum focuses on teaching skills like business modeling, marketing and negotiating, so that SMEs are in a position to obtain the support needed to grow and scale. Since 2022, the 68 SMEs in the pilot cohort have successfully completed the program; and SMEs in the program that were previously unable to qualify for financing can now obtain that financing from the bank.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: TRADE FINANCE
Innovation: Trade Management Online
Company: Absa Corporate Investment Bank
Trade Management Online (TMO) by Absa Corporate Investment Bank (CIB) is a Pan-African integrated online digital trade channel that allows clients to access and manage the full lifecycle of trade finance and trade loan products from anywhere in the world. This platform and its paperless processes enable critical support for trade in Africa and facilitate trade flows that are key to economic growth. TMO has a suite of trade finance solutions for both import and export that include letters of credit, foreign and local guarantees, documentary collections and trade loans. These are integrated into the Absa strategic channel framework so that clients have single sign-on access to all their Absa CIB products and services.
Innovation: Paperless import payment solution – Vietnam Customs Connection Project
Company: CTBC Bank
CTBC Bank’s Vietnam Customs Connection Project provides paperless import payment solutions with foreign exchange controls. CTBC Bank is the first Taiwanese bank approved by the General Department of Vietnam Customs to develop this type of system and to access the country’s customs database for import/export information. Now, digital data retrieved from the customs database replaces paper documents, eliminating the need for customers to provide physical documents for import payments. This innovation is a significant change to the payment processes as the customer’s remittance journey is faster and has better service. The paperless import payment solution saves time; reduces costs, as physical documents are replaced with official data, eliminating many processes associated with paper documents; and reduces risk, as the customs database is an official source of import/export data.
Company: ING Bank
ING Bank’s Supplyfy is the first cloud-based platform that provides an asset-based finance solution for import finance. This digital portal is a mechanism for companies to request, check and monitor their import finance. Offerings include financing against any type of bill of lading, digital workflows that streamline collaboration between procurement and finance departments, real-time insight as to the location and ETA of goods, and efficient rollover from import finance to inventory finance. This innovation targets SMEs that import containerized goods via ocean freight, since these relatively small companies don’t have the same bargaining power with their suppliers for favorable payment terms and therefore have a greater need for financing.
Innovation: Santander Navigator
Company: Santander UK Corporate and Commercial Banking
Santander Navigator is the first unregulated, digital subscription platform of its kind that focuses on supporting international growth of UK businesses in a beyond-banking capacity. Businesses can subscribe to various features that include insights, training, webinars and the ability to explore different markets as well as the steps to operate in those markets. There are also freight options and discounts to support logistics challenges, customs support for export documentation, and a talent-search feature. Santander Navigator hosts connection events on a platform across 28 subsectors and 35 international markets, providing SMEs with the opportunity to pitch to distributors and buyers in different markets.
Innovation: Trade Credit Insurance (TCI) in online banking
TreasurUp’s TCI is the first platform that allows banks to offer easy-to-understand digital insurance policies, automating the subsequent processes to integrate commercial banking clients into their commercial banking portals. This approach gives banks real-time, accurate information and the confidence that clients are compliant with policy conditions. Clients can more efficiently manage their risks so that profit and loss statements are more predictable, and banks in turn can more accurately manage their exposure to the client. The transparency resulting from this innovation ultimately improves the relationship between banks and clients.
Innovation: Vayana TradeXchange
Company: Vayana TradeXchange
Vayana TradeXchange (VTX) is the first truly global trade finance platform. VTX connects financiers, exporters and importers through a digital platform to make working capital available across geographies with a transparent bidding mechanism and available funds denominated in different currencies. With this innovation, importers can access funds to make timely payments to sellers, as VTX provides better working capital management, low finance costs and improved relationships. This product helps exporters deleverage risks to ensure their trade proceeds seamlessly as VTX provides optimized working capital, access to a large pool of financiers, competitive interest rates and minimal risk of default. Financiers also benefit with access to short-term trade assets and reduced documentation.
TOP FINANCIAL INNOVATIONS: USER EXPERIENCE
Innovation: Smart Digital Personalization Ecosystem (Project Athena)
Launched in 2022, Citibanamex’s Project Athena creates hyperpersonalized experiences using cutting edge digital architecture and technology to boost customer satisfaction and engagement. With this innovation, Citibanamex is striving to make their customer interactions more relevant by understanding a customer’s behavior, to provide the product or service that best meets a customer’s needs at that moment. Project Athena uses hyperpersonalized suggestions, leveraging AI to determine the best product, service and experience; an omnichannel strategy that adapts to a customer’s choices and communicates with the customer; and when possible, real-time data. With this technology, Citibanamex made significant strides in its customer-centric transformation.
Innovation: Comarch Open Platform
The Comarch Open Platform is the first real cloud-native, fully flexible digital banking and insurance engagement platform servicing corporate clients through an omnichannel approach. This solution creates an ecosystem using different business-banking micro applications and services that make daily processes more efficient with less friction. The platform uses an API for communication, integration and data use; embeds processes for faster continuous integration and delivery of value; microservices architecture; and includes a fully agile-oriented development process for more efficiency and accuracy to address fast-changing market demands. This solution combines build-and-buy strategies and gives financial institutions a tool they can implement quickly and cost effectively while maintaining autonomy in their development and unique, individual character.
Innovation: OneID electronic identification service for retail clients
Company: Komercijalna Banka ad Skopje
Komercijalna Banka ad Skopje’s OneID creates the opportunity to update personal data directly through a corporate website and is the first bank in North Macedonia to implement this electronic identification service for clients. The OneID service is a digital solution providing 24/7 access to banking products and services without requiring branch visits, while maintaining the highest European Telecommunications Standards Institute standards and EU Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Services regulations. Customers can verify their identity online by signing required documents remotely using qualified certificates in the cloud with a mobile application. This process helps the bank to reduce costs by eliminating paper and to decrease traffic at retail branches.
Company: Nedbank Mozambique
Nedbank Mozambique’s NedMonitor ensures its customers have the best possible experience. NedMonitor simulates the customer experience and performs testing to identify errors and issues, so that the bank can proactively resolve these before they have a significant impact. This innovation evaluates response times and error messages on the bank’s digital channels, which include Nedbank Online, Nedbank Mobile and MyUey, as well as third-party services like M-Pesa, e-Mola and mKesh—sending alerts to the bank’s IT teams so they can take action. NedMonitor consists of the Nedbank Online monitoring module with an iterative robot, an open-source scripting language for iterative automation and a web dashboard.
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