Meet the Most Innovative CEOs in Banking

The finance landscape is witnessing some significant changes and disruptions due to fintech companies, blockchain technology, and AI. Innovation in this highly regulated field is necessary, and even giants are rising to the challenge and trying to get more customer-friendly, agile or at least aligned to the new standards set by start-ups. Here is a list of the people who made some bold and right decisions this year.

  1. Richard Fairbank, Capital One

Mr. Fairbank has the Midas touch and has become a regular in the top 10 banking innovators. This year he hit the home run again by introducing Auto Navigator, a tool that redesigns the car buying process from the consumer’s perspective. The product can help buyers pre-qualify for a loan and even see their options and conditions in a centralized tool that also gives seller ratings and vehicle history.

  1. Vitalik Buterin, co-founder Ethereum

Not only did Mr. Buterin invent one of the fastest growing crypto-currencies, but he created the tools that could have a wide range of other applications. For example, some freelancers now accept payment in Etherum, while voting platforms can also take advantage of the blockchain technology. Crowdfunding projects are taking shape in the hope to disrupt the traditional model.

  1. Brad Katsuyama, IEX Group

The innovation brought by Mr. Katsuyama can be compared to speed bumps in the roads, just that their targets are high-volume trading algorithms. This is a counterintuitive approach to trading that aims to restore power to human traders and investors and decelerate transactions, so there is no way to game the market.

  1. Ethan Bloch, Digit

The bright idea behind Digit is to help you automatically save money in a secured account each month by payment automation. The real stroke of genius is that the algorithm determines the amount you can spare dynamically and create spending patterns by looking at your income and mandatory spendings such as bills and groceries. This is the tool you’ve been waiting to fix your credit score.

  1. Herman Gref, Sberbank

Another CEO that understood the need to incorporate AI into daily banking operations is Mr. Gref from Sberbank of Russia. The tool simply named “Tips” learns about each client’s spending habits and offers customized advice. The algorithm also determines what constitutes good information from the client’s feedback and only provides further useful tips, with no intervention from outside content managers.

  1. Piyush Gupta, DBS Bank

Singapore’s most innovative bank is already using biometrics like voice recognition to increase client’s degree of safety when accessing their accounts. It is encouraging and fostering innovation in co-working spaces, hosting hackathons. At the core of its belief lies the idea that they need to follow the customer journey as it is now, not half a century ago.

  1. Cezary Stypułkowski, mBank

The bank defines itself as having mobile banking in its DNA, and the CEO understands disruption as a survival tactic. Its latest innovation is a personalized discounts program based on purchase history and geolocation which alerts the client via an app about existing discounts for exciting items nearby. Mr.  Stypułkowski also believes in branchless banking.

  1. John Fawcett, Quantopian

Disrupting the world of hedge fund quants by enlisting a crowdsourcing model to come up with new strategies was the innovative idea in Mr. Fawcett’s mind. The community built by Quantopian can challenge traditional models by employing data, test tools and a fail fast, fail often mentality.

  1. Kees van Dijkhuizen, ABN AMRO

The Dutch bank has a long-standing tradition of innovation, and it is hard to select just one of their many tech-powered ideas to showcase. The recent quirky idea was to create the world’s first Stream Store, a mix between an online shop and a live video that taps into current social media trends. It was a success. Of course, ABN AMRO has an AI app that helps you budget, but considering it is targeted to thrifty Dutch people, it is not as impressive as the live cheese shop.

  1. Lucy Peng, ANT Financial Services

The CEO of Ant describes the power of the company as emerging from small things done together for the greater good. Its innovations are related to implementing face-scanning technology for it over 450 million users and offering banking services in rural China, helping the farmers access loans via the Internet.