Banking and customer experience are changing and developing rapidly all over the world with the effective use of technology in line with the needs and expectations of customers. The availability and access of new technologies has accelerated and got easier in this period. New technologies are very important tools for new business and innovation models. However, it should not be forgotten that new technologies are only tools in this approach; solutions, which are human-centric, value added and improve experience should be the main purpose. As Akbank LAB, the innovation center of Akbank, we work in this scope especially focusing on "innovation in financial services".
We established Akbank LAB at the end of 2016 by working with global consultants who have assumed senior positions in the world's leading banks and consultancy companies, by taking the best working models as an example. With this structure, we aimed to ensure the adoption of innovation as a culture, as well as running innovative projects in a close communication with the local and global innovation ecosystem.
Close Interaction with the Ecosystem
Within the innovation ecosystem, it is very important for us to maintain close relationship with innovative initiatives such as fintechs, startups and etc. by evaluating solution areas to establish business partnerships together. We experience that we can provide better solutions for our customers with the help of joint projects that will contribute to the business model of both sides. We believe that these bank-initiative collaborations can create significant opportunities for us to develop innovative solutions.
While prioritizing our projects, we take into account our focus areas which also support strategy of the bank. For example, we have developed innovative ideas on specific areas like; machine learning, financial consultancy, digital payments, credit scoring, operational efficiency and turned these ideas into financial service projects. The common goal of these projects is to provide a better customer experience and make our customers' lives easier.
We design our ideas as PoC (proof of concept) projects in order to provide innovative products and services as soon as possible. This method brings us testing the applicability of ideas and evaluating achievements with valuable third party business partners.
Until now, we have conducted nearly 20 proof-of-concept projects out of more than 100 ideas and now nearly 10 successful projects are live. Recently, we have implemented high-scale impact projects, such as personalized smart tips through Akbank Mobile and improvement of loan processes with the help of machine learning. We are always open to communication with all companies and entrepreneurs who think that we can create value together. You can contact us at www.akbanklab.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another application in order to sustain this close communication with the ecosystem is the Hackathons, which we have organized twice so far and where many creative ideas have been developed. This year, we will organize for the first time on digital and will be held on 26-28 June.
Finally, the places where entrepreneurs and innovative ideas emerge; such as universities and technoparks, are also ecosystem players that we aim to be in contact with.
Spreading of Innovation Culture
For a very large institution like Akbank, it is not suitable and possible to carry out all innovative activities with a single business unit. The contribution of all Akbank employees is very important to ensure a sustainable progress with an increasing momentum. We are in close cooperation with our Human and Culture and Corporate Communications departments for the construction of such a structure and culture. One of the most important parts of these cooperation is designing "Aş Kendini Innovation Competition", which is an in-house innovation competition organized for the fourth time in 2019. Dozens of ideas come to this contest from all units and branches of our bank. The finalist teams develop their ideas throughout the process and present them to the senior management at the final.
In addition, while we are sharing world-leading innovation news from our in-bank portal with our employees, with our "1 Day at the Innovation Center" event, we host many people from branches and business units to share innovation trends and projects. Moreover, with our nexTalk event, which we organized for the first time in 2019, we started to bring innovative startups and companies with Akbank employees together. Our goal in making these events is to raise awareness of all our employees on innovation-related issues and to spread innovation culture across Akbank.
From now on, we aim to inform you about our innovation activities, to share our perspective on innovative trends and to be in closer communication with you by publishing articles and contents periodically.