The 2021 Efma-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards promise to showcase the best new ideas and practices coming out of the banking industry today.

The Efma-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards are always a highlight of the year for me—and 2021 promises to be one of the most exciting competitions yet. As my colleague Alan McIntyre mentioned earlier this year, “Banks in 2020 were forced to make years’ worth of technology and business model changes in a matter of months.” So, this year I expect we’ll see some ground-breaking solutions from banks around the world.

One category I’ll be watching closely is Social, Sustainable & Responsible Banking. In 2019*, we had a number of strong entries that advanced our thinking about the role banks play in society. BNP Paribas won this category for ClimateSeed, a digital voluntary carbon-offsetting platform. ClimateSeed helps connect organizations with sustainable projects to cut carbon emissions and support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out the company’s Projects page. On it, they share stories about projects they support, from a solar power farm in Mauritius to cookstoves for rural communities in Peru.

Another area I’m most interested in is how we use innovations to improve customer and employee experiences. In 2021 we have two categories related to this human element—Reimagining the Customer Experience and Workforce. While I’m always fascinated by the technology supporting innovation, what gets me up in the morning is imagining how we can help improve peoples’ lives.

The winner in our Workforce Transformation category last time was Poland’s Alior Bank. It launched a new program to give its employees smartphones to help them collaborate safely inside and outside the office. In part the project was inspired by the bank’s goal of 60% employee engagement by 2020. But the program has also enhanced the bank’s positive and collaborative organizational culture in immeasurable ways.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also note CaixaBank of Spain’s win in the Analytics & Artificial Intelligence category. Developed using artificial intelligence, the bank’s Neo personal customer service assistant is available 24/7. It provides support across business processes in three different languages. Customers adopted the bot enthusiastically—more than 2.5 million people had 23 million conversations with Neo between its launch in 2018 and the Efma-Accenture Banking Innovation Awards ceremony in October 2019.

And these are just a few of the wonderful innovations we saw during the competition in 2019. I can’t wait to see what new innovations have emerged since then!

If you’d like to know more about this global competition showcasing ideas and practices that are transforming the banking industry or want to submit your own banking innovation, visit our site. The 2021 deadline is 24 September, but we’re accepting entries now so get yours in sooner rather than later. Your innovation could be named ‘Innovator of the Month’ and fast-tracked as a top-9 nominee in its category.

*We paused in 2020 as everyone focused on Covid-19 related activities.

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