How Wells Fargo Is Driving Innovation In Finance

by Sohini Bagchi    Nov 24, 2014

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A company needs to constantly reinvent itself in order to remain successful. Financial services company, Wells Fargo, which too believes in this success formula, is seeing much gain in its Startup Accelerator Program, which initiated only a few weeks ago to provide funding and mentorship to young companies aiming to pioneer new financial services technology.

Started in 2006, Wells Fargo Enterprise Global Services – India, an extension of the technology, operations, knowledge services, and corporate support teams of Wells Fargo, is also driving this initiative forward. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Bipin Sahni, Senior Vice President, Innovation, Research and Development, Wells Fargo & Company, discusses the importance of innovation in the financial sector and how their Accelerator Program can benefit start-up communities.

“The Startup Accelerator gets us faster to new ideas at the edge of our business and adds a new cylinder to Wells Fargo’s innovation engine,” says Sahni. According to him, the start-ups that are selected for the Startup Accelerator will be exposed to all relevant parts of the company with a Wells Fargo mentor acting as the start-up’s guide to our organization and making introductions. Each Startup Accelerator participant will receive a direct equity investment of between $50,000 and $500,000.

“Our Startup Accelerator delivers the innovation we want and the growth that start-ups desire,” he says adding that “It’s crucial for the start-up’s success to work with a company of our size. It prepares them to work with other enterprises in the future.”

Our Startup Accelerator broadens our visibility of new innovations, exposing our team members to new ideas, and ultimately getting us to new ideas faster. Once accepted in our accelerator program, start-ups are assigned a Wells Fargo sponsor who advocates for the start-up in our enterprise and leads a proof of concept in our standard lab‑operating environment.
-Bipin Sahni, Senior Vice President, Innovation, Research and Development, Wells Fargo & Company

In the financial sector, Sahni believes Wells Fargo is taking an integrated approach to meeting customer needs with their channel of choice. He believes mobile is growing faster in active customers than any other channel. As the average user accesses his/her accounts frequently, mobile-enabled experiences promote customer intensity. Customers who combine digital with other channels purchase more.

Other priorities include developing new capabilities such as video and chat to connect self-service customers to bankers and advisors; integrating mobile into new‑customer onboarding, building primary relationships and reducing costs to serve customers; and exploring mobile and alternative authentication tools for stores, phones, and ATMs, he says.

On the corporate front, the company is piloting voice and facial biometric authentication through its CEO Mobile application. “We have a few more proof-of-concept and prototypes in the works so we can try out other options. Next we will try out a mobile virtual personal interaction rendered through a multimodal approach (voice and text interaction) for basic customer interactions, provided by Kasisto, a new company in the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator,” he says.

Wells Fargo’s mobile wallet strategy is testing various approaches with consumers and merchants to get their feedback. The services we are looking at inside and outside of the bank are not just about payments;they are about improving the overall commerce experience for consumers and merchants.

“We’re excited to be a part of paymentsinnovation and will, at least initially, need to support multiple mobile wallet platforms,” says Sahni. The company is now offering Apple Pay to Wells Fargo customers.

“As they live their increasingly digital lives, we continue to evaluate new and innovative technologies, prioritizing payment safety, quality of service, and ease of use for our customers. Apple Pay is a strong offering in those areas, and we are excited to givecustomers yet another way to manage their money wherever they are – and for many, that’s on a mobile device.

We continue to improve the customer experience, reduce cost, and invest in future growth. Our multichannel strategy supports our customers as they move between self-service and full-service and between virtual and physical experiences. “Demand is surging for mobile deposits and payments, with more than163 percent growth in dollar volume of mobile transactions over the last two years,” he says.

The company is also redesigning a Corporate Electronic Office (CEO) portal for corporate, commercial and institutional customers. “We want to ensure that the portal’sapps are responsive to a broad range of devices. The number of pages and clicks to perform each task will be reduced. We’redeveloping this updated portal in-house,” Sahni sums up.