Top 5 Indian Bank-led Innovations That Are Revolutionizing Digital Banking

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The banking and finance sector has long been at the forefront of innovation. From making payments an easier task to walking towards a cashless economy — thanks to demonetization — banks have been opening the doors to innovation. Partnering and acquiring start-ups have become a popular method of creating an alliance with the sector. Corporates are also setting up tech labs to foster innovation.

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Following are the top five innovations that are creating a stir in the banking industry:

Partnering With E-wallets

Riding on the back of cashless economy initiatives, most of the top banks in the country have partnered with or acquired start-ups, to adapt their e-wallets and make them accessible to customers. While HDFC has partnered with the likes of PayZapp, a complete payment solutions app and Chillr, a multi-bank mobile payments app, others banks like Yes Bank have partnered with FreeCharge and PhonePe. The alliance gives the banks easy access to technology while also providing start-ups an access to the banks' database.

Innovation Labs To Help Start-ups Scale

Launch of innovation labs in the banking sector is gaining traction. This gives banks a direct access to start-ups while the former can claim that they are leaders of innovation by mentoring entrepreneurs. Axis Bank has partnered with Zone start-ups to launch Thought Factory – an innovation lab with an in-house incubator. Kotak Mahindra Bank has joined the bandwagon with its innovation lab in Bengaluru that houses national and international start-ups. Kotak has also partnered with NASSCOM 10,000 startups. Meanwhile, DCB Bank, too, has an internal innovation lab.

Accelerating Entrepreneurship

On a par in popularity with innovation labs is the launch of accelerator programmes. Leading banks are partnering with leaders in the start-up ecosystem to launch accelerator programmes that require the bank to be actively involved in the mentoring of start-ups, in exchange for equity and the promise of access to funding. YES Bank has launched the YES FINTECH accelerator programme in partnership with T-Hub and Anthill Ventures. The programme currently has over 10 start-ups in its inaugural cohort.

The Rural Push

Realizing the need of penetrating into the corners of the country and turning them into cashless cities, banks are working towards programmes in alliance with the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which promotes opening of accounts with zero balance. ICICI Bank has been making inroads, ensuring that techonology is accessible in rural areas. The bank announced the setting up of the ICICI digital village at Akodara in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat, adding that it has turned the village into a cashless economy.

Smarter Services For Faster Growth

Another way of attracting more customers through innovation has been the launch of services by a bank that promises faster processes to a consumer. YES Bank has rolled out an initiative like SIMsePay, a service that allows a consumer to transfer money, pay bills and use other bank services, without access to the internet. Similarly, ICICI Bank's Pocket app eliminates the need to visit a bank and targets the mobile-first generation. With over 5 million downloads on Google play store, the app creates instant accounts for consumers.