Axis Bank, the country’s third largest private sector lender, in a bid to ride on the digital wave, has decided to open an innovation lab where it will tie up with financial technology start-ups.
This innovation hub in Bangalore will focus on curating start-ups and work with them to develop value propositions. The bank will look at absorbing their technology.
Rajiv Anand, Executive Director (Retail Banking), Axis Bank, said the bank had already been working with start-ups and had short-listed about seven players.
“We will work with start-ups and we can tell them the problems that are there and they can help us with solutions. Start-ups get the benefit of our domain knowledge and basic infrastructure. Also, the accelerator programme is interesting as they get to meet other start-ups as well and there can be cross-pollination amongst them as well,” added Anand.
These start-ups will mainly be focusing across lending, digital, payments and artificial intelligence space. For this, the bank has also tied up with Zone Startups, Nasscom, venture capitalist and some global banks. At the moment the lender is also experimenting with emerging technologies such as blockchain, cloud, etc.
In its annual report released a few days ago, the lender had stated it was planning to focus on start-ups and ecommerce as a business segment and had created a new business vertical within the corporate banking system. The bank said that this vertical would focus on improving relationship with e-commerce companies and start-ups, through a relationship-driven comprehensive coverage model.
“There is a whole new ecosystem that is being built on the backbone of technology, innovation and enterprise,” said Axis Bank in its annual report. “We are engaging with many of these new companies with our investment banking solutions, banking products, meeting their transaction banking needs and serving their customers. In some markets, we are partnering with these new companies to fund their suppliers.”
In fact, the bank had decided to hire employees for its innovation hub via a hacking programme.
This comes at a time when several other banks such as HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, Federal Bank, RBL, ICICI Bank among others have either allocated funds or created special divisions to engage with the start-up ecosystem. Recently, foreign lender Barclays has also opened a fintech innovation platform to partner with start-ups.