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Innovation isn’t a word that you readily associate with banks. They’re staid, big institutions not prone to easily accepting change. First National Bank (FNB) is proving that perception needs to change.
The South African banking giant has been named the world’s most innovative bank at the BAI Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards.
The awards are designed to honour banks globally for game-changing products, services, practices and other achievements. The most innovative bank is driven by market insights, existing and emerging consumer preferences and has a culture of innovation which includes an innovation framework and/or processes that are supported by all levels of leadership.
Banks are having to change too. The traditional banking model just doesn’t fit in an age where internet users number in the billions, as do smartphones, and where nearly one-seventh of the world’s population is on Facebook.
According to FNB CEO Michael Jordaan, the bank has been working hard at staying innovative since 2004:
“[The award] is a well-deserved recognition of our ongoing commitment to being an innovative bank. Running since 2004, and through the FNB Innovators Programme 5585 innovations have been implemented to date, which has contributed towards the strategic direction of the bank,” he says.
As well as winning the most innovative bank award, FNB was also considered in other categories, with the bank’s eWallet service also being named as a finalist in the Product/Service Innovation Category.
The most Innovative Bank award also recognizes a bank that demonstrates an ongoing commitment to innovation and the advancement of retail banking. Innovation is exhibited through new-to-the-world products or services and channel innovations leading to customer satisfaction and loyalty, and having significant market and business impact.
“Our list of innovations goes across borders. Effectively, every employee can be an innovator and can change the way we conduct business. This is an inversion of the historical top-down application of corporate strategies. With the concept of innovation we have created far-reaching ethos of creativity and we can see colleagues across Africa and India applying themselves to their jobs with a heightened sense of insight and innovation,” says Jordaan.
Some of the FNB innovations implemented that contributed to winning the award include:
- FNB Africa – Bank in a bag
- FNB Banking Channels – the new dotFNB branches
- FNB Business Banking – using new media and technology (in client engagement and marketing metrics)
- FNB HR – FNB Innovators (including Minivations)
- FNB Personal Banking – FNB Online SSA and Outward Payment Solutions, Fuel Rewards, FNB App & GeoPay
- FNB Smart – FNB eWallet, FNB Cellphone Banking, Cardless Cash Withdrawal, FNB Cellphone Banking Pay2Cell, FNB Cellphone Banking Facebook Vouchers
The bank claims that it has its own innovations award, which helps foster innovation from within. Each year it encourages staff to be creative and implement innovative solutions aligned to the company’s strategy, and that deliver business benefit. This year there were over 1416 fully implemented innovations entered.
“It’s incredible to be part of an organisation where its people continuously come up with innovative ideas that are very often implemented. As a leader I encourage people to think out of the box and come up with an innovative set of ideas or solutions that will ultimately benefit our customers, so that our business evolves with new mindsets and visions of the future,” says Jordaan.
“Our customers are in the driving seat and we need to ensure that we are switched on and well-informed so that we can engage and communicate effectively with them. Innovation is fundamental to the way we think and I believe that it is critical to FNB’s success. Companies that fail to innovate will not only fall behind their competitors, they are unlikely to survive in an intensely competitive economy,” he adds.
Among the other banks awarded on the night include Turkey’s DenizBank, which won the Channel Innovation award for its “Globally First Ever” Facebook Banking platform. The platform gives people full online banking functionality through their Facebook account.