When banks move past the status quo and adopt an “everything is possible” attitude, they have the power to do truly transformative things. This is evident each year at the Qorus-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards, formerly the Efma-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards. The sheer diversity of the entries testifies to the creative thinking that’s happening at leading-edge banks around the world. The 2022 awards are in full swing, and banks have only until the end of this month to make submissions. 

This year’s winners will be revealed at the awards ceremony in Barcelona on November 30. In the meantime, let’s shine a spotlight on some of the winners from 2021. With their innovations, these banks are helping to redefine the roles that banks play in today’s world. 

The bank that crowdsources money management 

It is still uncommon for people to have open discussions with friends, family or colleagues about what they earn, save and spend. This, in turn, can make it difficult for people to know whether their own budgets or their financial challenges are “normal.” Through an app called Nicole, Raiffeisen Bank is lifting this taboo and letting customers see where they stand among their peers. This app was the winner in last year’s Offering Innovation category. 

Nicole users can see how their spending on things like rent, travel and food compares with that of other users in their income range and region. They can also receive suggestions on how to save more and can discover how other customers finance expenses like homes and cars.  

In an era in which young people are turning to social media for financial advice, a bank that offers customers a way to gather more reliable information from their peers could help them avoid bad advice and unrealistic expectations.  

Nicole is an innovative way for a bank to promote financial literacy, offer a realistic view of what customers can afford to spend and save, and help them make smarter decisions about their finances.  

The bank that feeds people 

It is one of the saddest ironies of the modern world that we simultaneously have devastating food shortages and large amounts of food waste. It may seem like a problem that has nothing to do with banking, but Standard Bank in South Africa decided to take on this challenge nonetheless. Their efforts earned them the top spot in the Social, Sustainable & Responsible Banking category. 

The bank created OneFarm Share, a digital food relief platform that combats food shortages in rural areas and reduces food waste. It also aims to increase market accessibility for emerging and commercial farmers. 

OneFarm is a digital B2B platform that operates across the agricultural ecosystem through its Lend, Protect, Grow, Trade and Share services. OneFarm Share’s solution enables farmers to sell their produce through alternative channels. The produce is then used to feed those who don’t have enough to eat. Millions of meals have been provided to those in need across South Africa through the services provided by OneFarm Share. 

As ESG plays an increasingly important role at banks, these types of measurable results are likely to draw public attention and may convince customers and potential recruits to choose a bank that is actively creating solutions to environmental and social challenges. 

The pocket-sized bank 

The 2021 award in the Neobanks & Specialized Players category went to Japan’s Minna Bank, with services delivered exclusively on smartphones. The bank targets digital natives by eliminating the need to interact over the phone, in person, by mail or using a desktop or laptop computer.  

Minna Bank is the first to build its core systems to operate on Google Cloud. It focuses on offering frictionless and hyper-personalized banking to its customers, who can open an account entirely on a smartphone using a driver’s licence or other official document and video calls to confirm their identity.  

Minna’s services already include checking and debit accounts, deposit and withdrawal of funds with a smartphone, virtual debit cards, and wire transfers. The BOX feature also lets customers focus on purpose-specific savings and a hashtag feature makes it easy to organize different types of expenses. The bank is now introducing personal loans and plans to eventually add wealth management and various other services. 

Now it’s your turn 

Reviewing banking innovations like these makes me excited for the future of the industry. Banks are creating new offerings, platforms and concepts that could be transformative for their customers—and for the world. 

If your bank is one of these innovators, I hope you’ll inspire others by entering the Qorus-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards, either this year or in the future. You can read more about previous winners on the awards website. Don’t forget to send in your bank’s submission by September 30. 

To see how we can help your bank become more innovative, contact me here.  

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