As BNP Paribas points out in its baseline, we live in a changing world. Digitalisation is moving the goalposts increasingly rapidly. The financial industry is particularly concerned and needs to transform.
True to its business innovation approach and to adapt to economic and digital changes, the BNP Paribas Group has launched a Fintech and Insurtech acceleration programme at Station F, managed by the IFS (International Financial Services) Strategic Initiatives team, with Hélène Mouly as Programme Director. Its aims are to contribute to BNP Paribas’ digital transformation and to develop new ways of working.
This programme is based on a partnership with Plug and Play, an accelerator with international reach that helps the Group to identify startups and accelerate pilots for the bank's businesses and functions.
Over three years, this programme has helped BNP Paribas identify more than 450 startups, run more than 46 pilots and accelerate 37 startups. For BNP Paribas Personal Finance, more than 15 tests have been carried out with various startups in several countries (France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom).
Aymeric Petetin, Project Manager for Startups & Fintech Collaborations at BNP Paribas Personal Finance, discusses the programme’s various challenges.
Could you introduce yourself?
My name’s Aymeric Petetin and I've been working at BNP Paribas Personal Finance for a little over a year and a half as Project Manager for Startups & Fintech Collaborations, part of the team dedicated to innovation management within the International Sales and Marketing department.
Could you explain the Fintech and Insurtech acceleration programme launched by BNP Paribas?
Led by BNP Paribas' IFS Strategic Initiative team, the programme was launched in January 2017 to support all the bank's business lines and functions with innovation initiatives. BNP Paribas is the only financial group to represent the Fintechs and Insurtechs at Station F.
Leveraging the sourcing capabilities of the international accelerator Plug and Play, the IFS Strategic Initiative team identifies startups that address the operational issues of the entities involved, and helps the Group's business lines and functions to tackle unresolved internal issues with which the startups can help, while letting them explore new business models.
Could you tell us more about Plug and Play?
Plug and Play is an accelerator with international reach, headquartered in California. It invests in early-stage startups to help them grow. It started out as an open-innovation platform based in Sunnyvale. Since 2006, thanks to partnerships with some big companies and a network of more than 8,000 startups, they have established 30 innovation programmes around the world and take part in an array of fundraising events.
It is independent of the BNP Paribas Group, but we have signed an international partnership with them to find startups likely to help our group’s entities rise to the challenges they face.
How does this programme fit in with BNP Paribas Personal Finance's Open Innovation approach?
The programme is a valuable tool for employees like me who work on topics related to open innovation at BNP Paribas Personal Finance. It allows us to be more effective when it comes to identifying innovative start-ups and offers a reassuring framework within which project leaders can launch a pilot project with a start-up. For example, we have set-up a regular meeting where we can talk to our operational contacts and help them with their most urgent issues, which could be solved by working with a startup.
Could you share some examples and tell us about the processes, so that we can see how it all fits together?
At BNP Paribas Personal Finance, we are constantly looking to improve products and services along the entire value chain of our different client paths, and to improve internal processes.
The process begins upstream, when we need to convince project leaders how effective the approach is and then identify business needs. Once we’ve done this, we explain these needs to the teams on the BNP Paribas Plug and Play Programme, who then put forward a list of startups that best match our requirements. The second step is essential, as it is the discussion between the startup and the operational teams, to confirm or infirm the interest and compatibility. The third step is the test phase. It follows a very clear timetable with well-oiled logistics to guarantee the delivery of a “Proof of Concept” at the end of the acceleration phase. But the work doesn't stop there: once the test has been completed, depending on the results, we may consider industrialising the solution.
What challenges do you face with this partnership? (e.g. regulatory issues between different countries).
The first challenge is the expectations the programme generates. Expectations from the operational staff who want to improve a specific service but also, of course, those of the start-ups who want to work with the Group.
Another challenge lies in the preparation of the programme upstream and management of things after the acceleration phase, with the choice and the switch to industrial mode.
Tell us about the results: how many solutions have you found, with how many startups, in how many countries? How does it all translate in business terms?
Since the start of the programme, 13 tests (POC: proof of concept) have been run with startups and BNP Paribas Personal Finance in several countries: France of course, but also Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. 28% of the pilots carried out within the Programme come from BNP Paribas Personal Finance, making it the Group's largest contributor.
In terms of business, several of our pilots (38%) have moved on to the industrialisation phase. One example is a tool used to facilitate the online subscription of services at Alpha Credit (the BNP Paribas consumer credit subsidiary in Belgium) based on the Scanovate solution.
What’s your favourite story?
It is difficult to pick out just one story but it is always satisfying when good results validate an assumption or an intuition that was there at the outset of a project. Personally, I was delighted to be able to test one of our accelerated solutions as a “collaborative user”. That was the Bloomin solution that has significantly improved the quality of the satisfaction surveys used for the events held within the entity.
A few words to sum the programme up?
This type of programme is particularly useful in the innovation process because it gives accelerated projects access to the right level of sponsorship in-company and provides a framework in which to run tests with startups.