Technology is changing the way we live, and in more ways than we imagine. Even traditional financial service providers such as banks are feeling its effects, with their position on the market under threat from tech-driven newcomers known as fintechs. Yet rather than viewing this development as a threat, ABN AMRO sees it as an opportunity. By working together, we can learn from each other and accelerate the speed of innovation for both parties. Our innovation programme ‘Econic’ in Eindhoven was set up with this goal in mind.
An ecosystem for financial technology
Econic brings together the worlds of technology, fintech and banking. It offers a meeting place where startups and people from ABN AMRO conceive, develop and validate viable applications, working entirely according to the principles of ‘open innovation’. Innovation is boosted through combinations of initiatives from within and outside the bank: outside-in and inside-out. It is our belief that this approach will help both external companies and our own organisation to grow. It will also allow us to keep offering our clients new, smart and sustainable solutions all the time.
We offer the participating technology companies and fintechs whatever they need to experiment and to test their ideas. This is not confined to a laboratory, but takes place in the real world: our bank’s day-to-day business. Unfettered by rules and protracted decision-making processes, the innovation process is strong and amazingly fast.
Testing ground for innovative banking
This practical approach has already yielded progress. For example, ClearPredictions is helping us with data analyses to identify how we can improve our efficiency even further. This has proved successful, with the test phase immediately leading to a reduction in wasted operational capacity. Another example is Amber Mobility, a startup that guarantees mobility without the requirement of possessing a car. The company is mapping out mobility among our people and analysing how to include shared use of electric cars into our lease car policy. If we can make this work for our people, we might be able to put together a similar product for our clients. This pilot is bringing us nearer to our stated goal of conducting a climate-neutral business by 2020.
The world’s smartest region
Econic is based in Brainport Eindhoven, recently designated one of the official mainports of the Netherlands, alongside Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The initiative is a partnership with HighTechXL, an innovative international tech hub with a proven track record in setting up successful accelerator programmes, both under its own name and at large enterprises. The partnership draws its strength from our extensive network of mentors, companies, startups, scale-ups and innovation managers.
Growing through partnership
The partnerships that ABN AMRO targets are those that lead to new sources of income and improve the efficiency of our work processes. With this in mind, the bank’s partners at Econic also include organisations other than standard fintechs, as well as teams from within the bank itself. Besides the accelerator programme for external companies, we offer workshops and master classes to help startups and our own people to develop ready-to-market propositions within six months. The enduring principle is to create a partnership that will help the client, the fintech and the bank to grow.
Six examples of experiments we have set up at Econic:
- Together with InvoiceFinance, ABN AMRO helps business clients to keep control of their income and expenditure in an intelligent way. How? Via an online platform which improves the cash flow of your business by directly financing outstanding invoices.
- ClearPredictions helps the bank with data analysis, for example to determine where new business opportunities lie or how we can work even more efficiently. The pilot immediately resulted in less wastage of our operational capacity.
- Amber Mobility supports ABN AMRO in achieving its goal of climate-neutral operation by 2020. It does this by analysing the mobility patterns of our staff, and offering an internal mobility service which strikes an optimum balance between sustainability, efficiency, time and money.
- The Golden Egg Check software platform enables ABN AMRO to assess the chances of success of a business proposition. The company has developed a number of tools to enable our relationship managers to analyse the propositions and context of companies that would like to do business with us.
- Our Econic innovation programme is partnering Expat Spouse Initiative, a network organisation for international talent. The partnership will enable Econic to attract the very strongest candidates for teams, projects, hackathons and other events.
- InvoiceSharing is an initiative in which we help our clients by providing a simple and affordable solution for digitalising their invoicing. It also allows us to offer them valuable advice based on data-driven insights. The first clients will begin using this application in January 2017.