Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Axis Bank ‘Thought Factory’, @Bangalore

29th June, 2016 is a red letter day in the annals of Bangalore FinTech industry. On this day, Axis Bank announced the launch of innovation lab with an in-house innovation team.

The innovation lab spread over 10,000 sq ft will launch a 3 month accelerator program where start-ups will be mentored.

“We will enable start-ups to raise money by introducing them to investors and Axis Bank also has the option to invest in some of these as appropriate,” the bank’s Executive Director for Retail Banking Rajiv Anand said.

The idea behind the initiative, called ‘Thought Factory’, is to take innovation to the next level and also keep abreast of changes in technologies, he said.

The bank will work with companies in various stages of maturities, including those at the ideation level, he said, adding that there can be two-way benefit to the lender through the initiative.

It can either get existing problems solved by start-ups or integrate their solutions into its business, Anand said, stressing there will not be an exclusivity clause while undergoing the mentorship programme.

The first of the accelerator programmes, conducted by Zone Startups under an advisory board comprising of external members, will start in a month, he said.
The bank will be looking at disruptive solutions in technologies such as block-chain, artificial intelligence, mobility and cloud as part of the ‘Thought Factory’, he added.

The bank is experimenting with emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, mobility, and cloud to bring about disruptions across functions including Credits, Deposits, Wealth Management, Mobile Payments, and Security, etc.

The innovation lab will have an in-house innovation team and a dedicated accelerator program to work closely with the startup community that are redefining banking in the digital era.

The short-listed startups will be taken through a structured mentorship program for fine-tuning, validating and scaling their business.

The highlight after the 3 month program would be the Investor Day. The Investor Day to facilitate funding for the short-listed startups. Axis Bank may also offer to invest in high potential startups before the Investor Day.

The bank is set to tie up with Wells Fargo - the American financial services company and two more banks from United Kingdom and Singapore. The bank is seeking collaboration with international banks on emerging technologies like block-chain, artificial intelligence, mobility, and cloud.

While the bank declined to comment on the tie-ups it confirmed that they were actively looking at international partnerships to drive digital innovation. "For the first time I am seeing that banks are willing to collaborate with each other. There is a bank out of the US that is actively talking to us, there is bank out of Singapore and one from UK who is happy to work with us," said Rajiv Anand, Executive Director (Retail Banking), Axis Bank told ET.

"Thought Factory" will work closely with the Fin-tech start-ups. The bank also plans to reach out to startup hubs across India through roadshows for curating the best fit startups for the program.

It will also work with NASSCOM and engage various VC partners who want to leverage on emerging technology.

Additionally, Axis Bank has also launched ‘Hack for Hire’ programme for identifying talent from across the country through Hackathons for the in-house innovation team at Thought Factory.

FinTech innovators look out for more.