NAB is establishing a $50 million fund to accelerate its fintech innovation efforts, joined banking counterparts in the race to innovate.
The NAB Ventures fund will run over three years and invest in partnerships, startups and alliances in Australia and globally.
NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn says “this is an investment in our business designed to improve customer experience through innovative solutions, making banking easier, better and simpler.”
Banks are facing a wave of disruptors with tech companies muscling up to provide solutions on things like transactions, payments and general financial tools.
Australia’s banking industry has been rapidly deploying similar initiatives to keep up with the vast technological changes in the financial services sector.
Commbank has a huge innovation lab to iterate on ideas quickly and Westpac has its own $50 million technology-focused venture capital fund Reinventure Group. Some of the financial industry’s biggest players, including AMP, ANZ, KPMG and Macquarie Group, have thrown their support behind $2 million financial tech start-up hub Stone and Chalk.
“Banking globally is undergoing a digital transformation and NAB Ventures will ensure NAB is able to embrace these changes to deliver innovative solutions for our customers,” Thorburn said.
NAB Ventures will operate within NAB Labs, the bank’s innovation and design department. Together with its new “Digital Acceleration Program” it hopes the initiative will foster an agile environment within the institution and speed up the development process.
“It’s critical that we are able to act quickly and be nimble in bringing digital innovation to market,” Thorburn said.
The fund will search for new tech, IP and businesses which can be integrated within the bank. Its focus, to begin with, will be on mobile, payments, data and analytics.
“We want our team to be among the best global thinkers in the innovation space and give our customers access to the best innovative thought – and we recognise that won’t all necessarily come from inside NAB,” Thorburn said.