BtoB: Remaining on the cutting edge of banking innovation.


apax-labrador-thierry-laborde-bdantoine_duchateau_apax-partners_hd_couleur-avril2016sergeverglas_svp_5116-modifierWith fintechs disrupting the banking landscape and increasing competition, and the lines between BtoB and BtoC becoming increasingly blurred, banks have to rethink the way they do business. And BNP Paribas has got it right. Thierry Laborde, Chief Operating Officer, has put innovation firmly at the forefront of the bank’s development strategy.

Today’s biggest challenge for banks is to make themselves attractive

In addition to maintaining profitability (higher taxation, fiercer competition narrowing margins, etc.), the main challenge banks are currently facing, according to Thierry Laborde, is to make themselves attractive. Customers have been influenced by fintech newcomers and a new style of customer relationship offered by GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) and are becoming increasingly demanding. Thierry has identified five priorities to ensure that the bank remains attractive to its customers. His first priority is to reinvent the customer experience. “In the space of a few short years we have transitioned from offering products to offering solutions. The bank must now deliver solutions and change its view of the role it plays.” Second, banks must also give back choice to customers. “We need to deliver a flexible, à la carte service allowing customers to swap service models in just a few clicks.” The third priority is data. “We must leverage data to make our customer relationship as personalised as possible.” The fourth priority is to ensure that our banking services are accessible “anywhere and on any device.” The final priority, in Thierry’s view, is to ensure data confidentiality and the security of financial transactions in the digital era. Thierry sums up his approach to tackling all these priorities in just one word: innovation.

“Open Innovation”, BNP Paribas’ three BtoB initiatives

To illustrate BNP Paribas’ proactive approach to innovation, Thierry gives three examples of its BtoB initiatives. The first is Wa! a service aggregation platform for mass retail chains, which will be pre-launched in October in 10 Carrefour stores. “It is the first connected retail application to allow customers to pay in-store using their smartphone and to centralise all discount coupons and loyalty advantages in one place.” The aim of this innovation is to help retailers improve customer relations and make life easier for the end consumer. BNP Paribas’ second project, Arval Activ Link, enables Europe’s leading vehicle rental agency to use the data from its connected vehicles to better serve its customers. This solution may one day be directly available to the general public to help them improve their driving behaviour. “Once again, the boundaries between BtoB and BtoC are melting away and enabling us to add more value to our customers’ business processes and help them improve the solution they offer to end consumers.” In the last example, BNP Paribas Real Estate is also investing in R&D to take its solutions into the digital era, focusing on both connected residential properties and the new ways of working in smart offices. “In the future, smart buildings will be able to meet the smart city’s ecological and community life standards. As a leader in commercial real estate, we are keen to exceed our customers’ expectations as this transition takes place.”

Mutual affinity between BNP Paribas and startups

When it comes to innovation, BNP Paribas is not alone. “We firmly believe in the power of partnering with startups”, says Thierry Laborde. Such collaborations have two main objectives. First, consulting and strategy tracking via the renowned Atelier BNP Paribas and, more recently, Personal Finance’s Echangeur, a technology and marketing innovation centre focusing on customer relationships. The second objective is to source technologies to invent the bank of tomorrow and support its customers in their innovation strategy. The numerous incubators and accelerators created by the bank are testimony to this. One of these, Innov & Connect, is a bank program dedicated to innovation. “Built in partnership with BNP Paribas’ French retail banking division, this accelerator pairs startups with SMEs, thus helping them meet each other and work together on developments.” Atelier BNP Paribas’ fintech accelerator is another initiative. Each year it selects and supports eight startups as they develop new business opportunities. “It has been a great success. This year, we received over 240 applications”, said Thierry. And to take synergies with entrepreneurs even further, BNP Paribas implemented “open-up”, a digital platform that connects more than 400 startups with 300 BNP Paribas employees worldwide. “If a startup wants to propose a solution to BNP Paribas, it enters it into the application and, thanks to a powerful algorithm, the startup will be put directly in contact with the BNP Paribas project manager who works in that area.”

In terms of innovation, the slogan “BNP Paribas, the bank for a changing world” has never been as relevant as it is today.

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