At the start of the year, we launched SC Ventures, a new group designed to promote innovation, partner with and invest in fintechs and rethink business models. We caught up with Alex Manson, Global Head of SC Ventures, to find out why disrupting ourselves is so important for future success.
SC Ventures is about introducing new ways of thinking about banking. By experimenting both internally and externally, we can generate a constant flow of ideas. Internally, this is mainly done through what we like to call our ‘intrapreneurs’; these are colleagues with an idea that could change the Bank – everything from a small efficiency change or a completely new business model. We provide the tools and environment for them to develop, experiment and validate their ideas in our innovation labs, which we call eXellerators. It’s proving successful – we’ve had more than a thousand ideas, and around 20 projects are moving to prototype stage.
We also partner with fintechs to develop products and services that make our clients' lives easier. This typically leads to partnerships being formed and sometimes even investment opportunities. Last but not least, to take our ideas forward, we are very open to experimenting with building new business models or ventures that could potentially disrupt the way we operate today.
To be clear: there is no such thing as innovation for the sake of innovation. Banking is all about serving clients in the way they want to be served. We are transforming the way we work – rewiring the DNA that underpins how we think about banking. Just as our customers are expecting the way they are served to change in the face of technological innovation, our corporate clients are also being disrupted, and they too want to reinvent themselves. We can work with our clients on building new business models and digital solutions, though with a start-up approach one might not expect from a large bank. Sometimes, we bring our fintech partners into this process to tap their technological and human-centred design expertise, but also their agile methods and start-up mindset.
Client co-creation is very important to us. We always want to experiment and learn to solve our clients’ needs, and the solutions we create have the potential to be rolled out across our global footprint, benefitting as many of our clients as possible.
We want to be courageous and empathetic – that’s what I think differentiates SC Ventures from other innovation efforts. As an established player, it takes a lot of courage to potentially cannibalise your own business to experiment, learn and move forward. Empathy plays a big role because we know how hard it is to be a start-up trying to make a breakthrough, just as sometimes it is hard to drive change or set up something that’s never existed before in large organisations.
Fundamentally it’s about people, culture and mindset. At the end of the day, SC Ventures is just a platform and we are only as good as the people who engage with us. We stand for serving clients in the best possible way, with capabilities transformed by innovation and technology evolution, seeing the opportunity to do things differently, collaboratively and more quickly.