#Entrepreneurs — 10.02.2017

Fin(tech)ally, Fintechs & Private Banks Ally!

Sofia Merlo, Co-CEO of BNP Paribas Wealth Management

Few days after speaking at the Paris Fintech Forum, BNP Paribas Wealth Management co-CEO Sofia Merlo shares her point of view on the Fintech industry.

As a bank we help Fintech companies with their traditional financial requirements (financing, increasing capital, transfers and so on), but we also wanted to go one step further in this area by expanding the range we offer to include partnerships for each stage of development (BPI France, the crowdfunding platform Ulule and many more).

We also have physical premises to support these start-ups with different stakeholders (Partech, Numa in France, Future Lab in Luxembourg, Fusion in Switzerland). And additionally, we are investing directly in funds - some of which are dedicated to data, for example (Serena Funds).

Creating connections between the Bank, its clients and start-ups

What really distinguishes BNP Paribas is being at the heart of the financial ecosystem, with our large-scale franchise in the business and private banking world in Europe, Asia and the United States. We can therefore go that one step further by creating connections between all our clients in different countries. 

Our Innov&Connect programme enables client companies in France to propose projects to start-ups. With "Meet the Start-Up" series in different countries, we provide private clients the chance to meet start-ups in which they could invest. Thanks to the technical advances in the digital world, we have even created a specific "business angel" platform in Turkey. We are therefore participating in developing the economy. When we enable our clients to meet start-ups for their projects, we also create opportunities for ourselves as a bank.

New working methods and digital acceleration for the private bank

To speed up our own developments, we are putting in place a number of initiatives in 2017. We will be launching our third International Hackathon, which last year included eight countries, 100 start-ups and concluded with nine projects being incubated with different business lines. We also developed the app Open Up which connects start-ups with professionals from the Bank who can provide advice, or even develop joint projects.

In the private banking business line, we are taking full advantage of new working methods. Almost  200 employees worked in our "Digital Factory" in Europe and Asia in order to co-construct a new client experience in collaboration with clients and Fintech companies. By working in such a way we are able to deliver new services more quickly - 11 minimum viable products were already launched since the beginning of the year. Real cultural changes are taking place, and this is just the beginning.

An environment that needs more women 

The only flaw of this dynamic environment is that there are still too few women in the world of Fintech companies (from 13% in Germany to 17% in the Great Britain). Thus, through our actions as an organization and the partnerships that we create, we strive to bring in more women, serve them better, celebrate them and provide them with more business opportunities. 

Would you like to find out more? Read Sofia Merlo's article on female entrepreneurship