One of the most archaic, traditional systems in the world is getting a facelift, it’s being disrupted from the outside in at a pace that is necessary for the sector to grow. Banking is being turned on its head through the agility and prowess of fintech startups across the globe, and interesting to me is the revolution of partnerships with startups that’s making the threat a sweetened growth hack opportunity.

More and more, we’re beginning to see the quite intentional innovation through large corporates, particularly banks with the agenda of strategic partnering with fintech startups to not only tell a good story but innovating with the intent of incrementally and radically transforming products within the bank’s objectives.

In Africa, we’ve seen successful partnerships like ABSA through their RISE signing POC deal with Peach Payments to test their product and Nigeria’s GT Bank investment in Accounteer with live integration to enable the bank’s financial services are prime examples of how the fintech dream team has mutual benefits for both entities.

Leverage the Open Innovation Agenda (Data, Infrastructure and Technology)

Innovation is expensive, and as disruptive as the process is and as sexy of a story it is to tell, the selling of innovation is nothing compared to the sweat equity involved to successfully take a product to market from ideation. One of the most heartbreaking cycles is witnessing a startup working with an entity, be it an accelerator or a bank with the intention to scale or prove a concept, and the innovation agendas are not aligned. Once the alignment is recognised and relevant, for the bank be it to incrementally or radically innovate their products which has an impact on their systems, or a growth hack opportunity for revenue and having more customers, and adding value to their data and technology. Whereas, the opportunity for startups usually comes in at acceleration of proof of concepts, going to market faster through capital investments and other capabilities and the chance to build on top of the infratrsucture of the bank through open integration.

Access to Capital, Network and Domain Expertise                          

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the opportunity to support startups from the bank’s perspective comes in at monetary investment capital, access to the network that of the bank and the knowledge sharing through domain expertise. In 2017, Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng Holdings  in partnership with Rand Merchant Bank’s Alphacode invested over R4 million in 4 fintech startups for the development of these high impact startups. Through Alphacode, fintech startups like Bankymoon, Livestock Wealth, Slide and Commuscore to name a few have to had access to resources such as an advisory network and a co-working space available.

 

The Opportunity to be a (First) Customer and The Acquisition

One of the most celebrated bank(able) fintech dream team partnerships is between startup Firepay and Africa’s biggest bank, Standard Bank to launch Snapscan. This partnership worked because of the aligned innovation agendas, and provided Standard Bank the opportunity to provide a solution to and grow their customers and supported the bank’s emerging payments strategy, and for Firepay, to have Africa’s biggest bank not only as a customer but now also as an investor in the business, and the opportunity for their product to scale beyond borders.

In Conclusion

The dream team partnership doesn’t not come with its challenges, it’s not all rosy, after all, financial innovation and startups are competing with an archaic system with inertia to change from the security policy to the production management process. Partnering with banks is no walk in the park – especially given the early stages of these kind of collaborations.

As the ecosystem embarks on the journey, it’s key for both banks and startups to recognise that the bankable partnerships are not innovating not against legacy, but with legacy systems because of the valuable intelligence of failure’s patterns and the combination of new models, science and data through which both entities have the capabilities to impact.

And as a final word, ensure that your core values, and not just your technology and data talks to each other.

 

Published in Inno trep tech

The first engagement to become a keynote speaker in 2017 came at the invitation of She Leads Africa (SLA) at their annual Cape Town edition of the SheHive meetup, and it was the opportunity to talk about being a woman in the space of technology and innovation and how to tap into being an intrapreneur in a multinational company. I accepted the invitation because of the crush that I have on SLA’S content and network, as well as because I was afraid as hell and wanted to take me on.

Innovation in Sustainability

Taking me on meant giving me another chance, a chance explained best by Marianne Williamson in her daily devotional entitled “365 Days of Miracles” when she says, “I have not always behaved in ways that have maximized my opportunities. But the fact that attracted them means that they were mine”. So I needed to give myself a chance in my fear, and find a way to communicate and learn through that.

I define innovation as a social process that enables new ideas and perspectives to serve customers and the larger ecosystem to win in dynamic markets and develop the growth of an entity or economy, and through its creativity, become sustainable. It is through this definition that contextualises the framework of the speaking engagements that I take on, this through also being a part of organisations like Thomson Reuters, One Young World, GirlHYPE and my personal brand that grants me an opportunity to be a part of dialogues and events that are of impact.

 Diversity and Inclusion Mansplained in Industry

The retention of talent and its creativity of an entity is reliant on the sustainability of innovation of the company - it’s a talent attracting talent. The opportunity to be on panel discussions like the inaugural Standard Bank (JHB) and Facebook Africa (CPT) Women in Technology Conferences and being nominated for the Inspiring Fifty Women in Technology of South Africa 2017 allowed me some perspective on specifically, South Africa’s agenda for the woman in technology, and there’s still a lot of work to be done. In as much as we can lean in, there’s still the open secret of the profit of having men as allies in the movement of leaning in and inclusion, because the reality is that our male (industry) colleagues have not only social capital, but the superpower of mainsplaining it into existence and action. And don’t get me wrong, by no means is this a call to action to let us women lie low a little, it’s instead what I’m hoping to be as Oprah Winfrey says, an “AHA” moment to leverage on this capital and take more risks.

The Women in Technology Opportunity

I am a young, black woman in technology working for a multinational, and this is my experience and lived perspective on what the concept of Diversity and Inclusion means for and impacts me. It’s beyond gender and race, but systems put in place that need another social process (and policies) to develop the growth of the ecosystem that misrepresents them, to win FOR us (minorities) so we can win WITH them (capitalism). How can we all win? Through the Thomson Reuters Sustainability website, I shared some ideas on how to not only encourage young executives to become more acquintainted with SDGs but be more involved with innovation in the company.

After all, as author and entrepreneur Devon Franklin echoes, one must “ … be willing to negotiate from a level of compensation from a commitment that you are able to keep. Never allow your life to be less than your worth – NEGOTIATE AND ARTICULATE.”

I am so excited for the future of the woman in STEM in Africa because we’re in the great hands of GirlHYPE , Africa Teen Geeks , Taungana Africa , Mawazo Institute and more that I can’t possibly list all – but trust me, there’s great women and men who are ensuring that the girl child, be it in the village or urban areas are educated. And like I always mention, that Women, Diversity and Inclusion is not just a moral but a business issue, and going forward into 2018, I’m honoured to be serving as a non-executive board director for Non-Profit company, GirlHYPE, to develop the next pipeline of African women in STEM!

 Front Image : Thriving Magazine

Published in Inno trep tech

My name is Vuyolwethu Dubese and I am 23 year old Girl in Media and Technology, exploring Innovation, Intelligence, Inclusion and Entrepreneurship. With a focus on African technology and entrepreneurship, the intent is to be a part of the ecosystem and organisations driven to develop the African lives and the narratives that are shape shifters in how Africans and the world perceive the continent.

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