How Visa and Lloyds Banking Group are responding to ‘fintech’ disruption

Increasing competition from the financial technology sector, also know as fintech, is prompting large financial institutions to seek out new partnerships and collaborations.

Last summer, Visa Europe launched an innovation hub aimed at offering startups and entrepreneurs “the insight, tools and connections [they need] to forge the technologies and services that will transform citizens’ interactions with payments”.

Called Visa Europe Collab, the hub has offices in London, Tel Aviv and Berlin and aims to create completed proofs of concept for a minimum of 20 ideas in its first year. The most commercially viable will be handed back into the main body of the Visa business for rollout to Visa member banks, retailers and consumers.

Hendrik Kleinsmiede, co-founder and executive director at Visa Europe Collab, says the hub is working on a range of areas, including payment applications within ‘the internet of things’ and biometric technology aimed at making payment authorisations more secure. The latter includes a partnership with payment technology firm Sthaler that involves developing a finger vein reader, a non-invasive method of identification that recognises individuals through the unique pattern of veins in their fingers.

“There are 5,000 startups between London’s Silicon Roundabout and Canary Wharf and half of those are fintech,” says Kleinsmiede. “We want to engage with them because they have great ideas and collectively we can innovate quicker than we could by sitting in [Visa’s office] thinking about what the next emerging technology might be.”

The UK has become a global hub for fintech innovation, attracting huge levels of investment, which offers valuable lessons for all marketers on how to disrupt an industry, bring innovations to market and meet consumers’ changing needs.

Lloyds Banking Group is also embracing this spirit of collaboration. It is a founding member of Innovate Finance, the trade body for fintech businesses, and also recently partnered with Startupbootcamp in launching the first Global FinTech Insurance Accelerator programme.

Lloyds director of innovation Claire Calmejane says the bank has an internal programme whereby any director from across the group can test new products and services with customers at speed. “After 24 months, we have a track record of products accelerated to production through this process,” she explains.

The bank has pledged to invest £1bn in digital capabilities between 2015 and 2017. This includes a focus on ‘transforming customer journeys’.

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