Make your dinosaur run fast and smooth
More than 10,000 banking organisations, securities institutions and corporate customers in 212 countries trust SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) to exchange millions of standardised financial messages every day. “Traditionally, when people thought about SWIFT, they didn’t link it to innovation”, says Matteo Rizzi, co-founder of Innotribe, which is SWIFT’s initiative to enable collaborative innovation in financial services.
At the 2nd Innovation for Financial Services Summit in Luxembourg, Mr Rizzi spoke about the importance of innovation in the financial industry.“We facilitate innovation, but Innotribe is not a company: it is a brand owned by SWIFT”. This is how the technology evangelist Matteo Rizzi started his presentation at the 2nd Innovation for Financial Services Summit in Luxembourg, organised by the Public Research Centre Henri Tudor in partnership with ISPIM, the International Society for Professional Innovation Management. After three years of network building, Innotribe contributed to change the image of SWIFT from a dinosaur, as Mr Rizzo puts it, to a catalyst for innovation. So what is the value of Innotribe? It is the story of the castle and the sandbox, as Matteo Rizzi explains. SWIFT is the castle that manages the core business. In order to remain competitive, every company needs to make space for innovation. This is where Innotribe jumps in; it plays the role of the sandbox that creates a space for experimentation and failure, of course. As the old saying goes: the greatest risk is risking nothing at all.
In practice, Innotribe has built up an incubator that is using SWIFT’s funding to experiment and develop the ideas that are coming from the ecosystem. “If you are a start-up working in the financial field, if you are a banker or an entrepreneur, you have counterpart at SWIFT evaluating your idea; whether it is dropped or incubated. The incubator start-up doesn’t need to be with SWIFT, it might be added to the SWIFT business but it uses the SWIFT network and its reach, its security, brand and reputation”.
Innotribe’s job is not to try to be a new SWIFT or banking product, but to save costs by providing financial institutions with a selection of quality start-ups. There are two ways of doing it. Matteo Rizzi stresses that some companies don’t do searches at all; alternatively, firms do search the ecosystem at great cost. In both cases, Innotribe can reduce that cost.
In 2012, Matteo Rizzi and his ten colleagues have screened 700 start-ups from the financial industry. “We bring them to three events; this year it was Singapore, Belfast and the best ten early stages and the best five late stages get to the final event in Osaka, Japan, to pitch to the banks that are present. More than 50% of the start-ups that participated in our challenge got venture capital funding”.
Mr Rizzi concluded by stating that change culture is a concept that is becoming more and more important for a company, be it financial or not. His assessment of Innotribe, launched in 2009, is quite positive. “Our objective was to create a culture of innovation in a company that was basically a dinosaur. So now, after three years, we can safely say that people associate SWIFT with innovation”. CW