Banks have been tremendously disrupted from the digital transformation.
Intesa Sanpaolo, an Italian bank, first in Italy, and top ten ranked in Europe in terms of market capitalization, launched the Innovation Centre to lead the change within the financial industry.
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Retail in Asia joined The Innovation Centre Networking Event in HK, organized with the collaboration of The Italian Chamber of Commerce, and met Vincenzo Antonetti, Head of the International Hub Network Office for Innovation Centre of Intesa Sanpaolo, to know more about the project and the future plans in Asia.
Ria : What is the Innovation Centre?
Vincenzo : The Innovation Centre of Intesa Sanpaolo is the result of a journey, which started three years ago, with the awareness that technology was disrupting financial industry. With the Centre, Intesa Sanpaolo, dedicated a whole department to innovative projects for the business units of the bank.
The Innovation Centre currently counts 100 employees, all working on innovative projects to develop new products. We are looking at new FinTech technologies such as blockchain, big data, digital payments, and wealth management The centre works with startups from all over the world, and once the proof of concepts are ready, they sold internally to our business units.
The centre also includes matchmaking opportunities for our company customers. They belong to different sectors, automotive, fashion, and technology, to name a few, and the can connect with each other on our tech market place platform, which promote the encounter between innovation demand and offer. Once in touch, if interested in working together, we provide them with financial solutions to support the deal.
We also promote offline activities, in which we gather several company customers, which we connect, and help them to explore other markets. An example is our automotive project in Israel.
RiA : What’s the rationale behind the Innovation Centre?
Vincenzo : With the advent of new technology, we wanted to use the advantage of reaching out to global companies. Intesa Sanpaolo has its main market in Italy but has important Corporate & Investment Division branches abroad: thanks to our innovation projects, we are aiming to have a more international exposure, and getting in touch with companies, which are not our clients yet, especially in the most competitive markets.
The rationale behind the innovation centre is to develop our business units, and strive innovation for a global market.
RiA : Why presenting this project in Hong Kong?
Vincenzo : We are very interested in Hong Kong startup ecosystem, there are huge investments in FinTech, all big banks are here, and we want to establish partnerships to engage Hong Kong investors and bring them to Italy and Europe, which is not very easy due to legal constraints.
Our partner The Floor, the biggest FinTech hub in Tel Aviv (Israel), is opening a hub in Hong Kong, and once ready, we will be able to bring startups here, in collaboration with local stakeholders such as institutions, universities, and other companies. Once their products are ready, we are going to bring them to Italy, and to our internal processes.
RiA : Any plans for the retail industry, specifically?
Vincenzo : Intesa Sanpaolo is very interested in fashion tech. Among our clients, we have many Italian fashion brands keen to scout new technologies.
In November 2017, we will organize a fashion tech event in New York, for which we have selected brands such as Ferragamo, Gucci, Prada, to name a few. Those brands will listen to 10 U.S. and European startups and consider investing in them.