Accelerating Technology Innovation
By Lyron Wharmann, Head of the Technology Innovation Lab, Citi Israel October 15, 2014 04:35 PM
Consumers' relationships with banks have undergone an evolution. Today, direct banking enables the average customer to keep a distance from the bank branch and conduct a range of activity via the personal computer and smart phone. The rapidly changing business environment and technological trends are continually pushing banks to be innovative and develop new products and solutions.
Citi's Technology Innovation Lab in Israel was established after we recognized the potential of merging Citi's position in the global financial markets with Israel's innovative, entrepreneurial and fast paced culture. The Innovation lab is further supported by a favorable local startup culture, partly thanks to government support for financial R&D programs. The main objective of the Innovation Lab is to understand and define new needs and opportunities in the financial arena and provide innovative tools for the financial markets.
To stay ahead of the changes and be at the forefront of this need to create growth engines, Citi is trying to combine a variety of approaches, including creating an Accelerator program within the Innovation Lab. This program, the first of its kind within Citi was designed to assist young entrepreneurs specializing in Financial Technologies (FinTech) in developing their startup ideas. The Accelerator aims to help entrepreneurs develop an understanding of the financial services industry and an understanding of the needs of global financial institutions and the financial industries market.
The Innovation Lab is today working on many projects; some of them are already being used by institutional entities in Israel and around world and are generating revenue, while others are still on the drawing board. To date, 20 companies have passed through this program.
Citi Accelerator provides an on-site program to help young startups grow and achieve key milestones. The program offers startup companies the unique ability to be exposed to and gain knowledge from Citi's experts from within relevant fields of interest as well as acquaintance with some of Citi's top executives. Citi views the work with the startups as an integral part of its innovation goals. The Accelerator focuses on offering:
- Expert mentors from within Citi in the startups' specific financial fields.
- Effective product development of products for the global financial industry.
- Exposure to senior executives in Citi, boosting the companies to the next level.
- Breaking the entry barrier for early and growth-stage companies into a Tier 1 Bank
At a recent FinTech conference in Israel, the proof of the lab's many successes were evident, as a number of products nurtured in the Innovation Lab were on display.