There are a huge number of reasons BBVA attends conferences like the Money20/20 Europe event in Amsterdam this week.
Firstly, it gives the business the chance to share ideas and hear what others in the sector are doing. Secondly, there are a huge number of meetings to be had with potential partners who can help us bring amazing to the hands of our customers and clients.
But thirdly, and of great significance, it gives BBVA the opportunity to see first hand what innovations in the financial services sector are coming down the line. Equally, it gives the bank the chance to connect with those people and businesses who are shaping the future of banking.
With that in mind one unit of BBVA attending the conference in Amsterdam this week was the Open Innovation Team. Addressing the audience in the Arena stage, which this year was devoted to innovation in banking, BBVA Head of Open Innovation, Marisol Menéndez explained the driver for BBVA’s decade long Open Talent competition, was about ensuring the bank stayed in front of the curve.
She said: “We have three challenges in the sector. Are we learning as fast as the world is changing, are we innovating enough to survive and are we delivering for customers and clients?. Our Open Innovation manifesto is about us ensuring we are connecting and collaborating to build amazing for those that bank with us.”
She added that BBVA's focus was on scouting, co-creating, partnering with, acquiring and investing into those businesses that would transform the value proposition to our customers.
She also urged those innovative start-ups at the conference to register for the world’s biggest fintech competition, BBVA Open Talent, which has re-opened for registrations with a special short term window during the Money 2020 event. More details here.
But as well as scouting for new ideas and concepts, Money 20/20 also gives BBVA the opportunity to bring along those startups who have already engaged with the bank through Open Talent and other means. As part of a sponsorship deal with the conference organisers, BBVA has invited six of the start-ups it works with to come along and showcase their products and services to an audience of 20,000 potential new customers.
The first BBVA backed startup the Arena stage heard from was Checkit, whose product is aimed at reducing the amount of time business owners spend on administrative tasks.
"BBVA's Open Innovation manifesto is about us ensuring we are connecting and collaborating to build amazing for those that bank with us"
Addressing the audience, the Checkit team explained how their research had shown that on on some days as much as two thirds of SME business owners time was spent on mundane actions like booking keeping, accounting and tax, HR and billing. Checkit explained how their business converts statements and billing into ERP reports that enable automated management of these requirements, to free up time for earning income.
Ignacio Gil from Tuyyo was next up on the stage, and explained how Tuyyo was a product that was created within the bank, and done this way so the project could be tested while using resources from within the bank before rolling it into an external company.
The CEO explained how BBVA saw an opportunity to open a new channel into the money transfer space, focussing solely on the digital remittance market. The aim is by starting with remittances, it will open the door to bringing in new customers and eventually cross selling to people with products or services.
The Arena audience also heard from the CEO of Holvi, Antti-Jussi Suominen who explained how what Holvi did was contextual banking - disrupting the 'vanilla' banking model that big banks bring to their customers.
He explained how almost 80% of people employed in the EU are in micro-enterprises, business with under ten employees, and that is the focus for Holvi.
Holvi operates smart business account for micro-businesses, with the focus on providing a one stop shop for businesses, allowing them to separate their personal and business finances. The smart element is that, in real time, they can start invoicing, accounting for tax, expense management and business expenses, even webpage building - all within the same platforms.
The audience asked what advice would you give a company that wanted to start in the Open Innovation process. Collectively, the team answered that the first thing was to outline what was your focus, what was your strength and to be clear on what you want the outcome to be - in other words, where do you want the relationship with BBVA to go?
Asked what BBVA had learned from working with startups, and over the past 10 years, the Open Innovation team explained that it was the positive disruption that resonated the most. That, and the singular focus start-ups have on building, delivering and growing their ideas, always with the end user at the forefront of their thinking.