French bank BNP Paribas doesn’t need to be the first bank to announce innovation—it just wants to be the one that’s best at executing it.
“We have a lot of brain power, a lot of computer power—and that computer power is getting cheaper and cheaper—and we are sitting on a pile of data,” Bruno D’Illiers, deputy head of CIB Americas, functions and COO CIB Americas for BNP Paribas, said this morning. “[Startups] don’t have the data we have, and for them it is pretty expensive. In an industry held in place for many years, this [initiative] is pretty impactful.”
During the report of its full-year results earlier this month, BNP announced its 2017-2020 digital transformation plan, which includes a €3 billion investment in technology over that time frame.
These initiatives will focus on areas of technology such as blockchain, where BNP has invested in Digital Asset Holdings and is testing out the technology in its BNP Paribas Securities Services group, headed by Chief Innovation and Digital Officer Philippe Ruault.
The bank is also a member of the R3 Consortium (for now). Other areas of development include artificial intelligence and regulatory innovations.
Utilizing data analytics and other technologies to improve or at least provide a clearer structure to highly regulated areas of the banking business, such as KYC, is of paramount importance to those banks that wish to move the industry forward.
“We have invested massively in regulatory projects in the last few years; they are a very significant portion of our investments, but it is not sustainable,” said D’Illiers. “For any bank, it is not sustainable.”
When it comes to artificial intelligence, BNP is still “very much in the early stages,” according to D’Illiers; the bank is meeting with key players in the space and carefully scrutinizing the projects they might wish to pursue.
According to D’Illiers, BNP’s innovation goal is not so much to move quickly but to move decisively forward thanks to work conducted in places like the bank’s Innovation Lab, opened in New York City in September 2016.
Hosting the lab in its own individual space will hopefully spread innovation both inside BNP and externally to the rest of the banking world.
“You will always have people resistant to change, but my objective is to contaminate,” said D’Illiers.
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