Mircea Mihaescu, head of innovation at Russia’s Sberbank describes the Innotribe Startup Challenge as providing a “very good snapshot of the state of financial innovation at an early stage”.
“There is a clear alignment between what Sberbank considers the best way to discover and apply innovation to the financial industry and how Innotribe sees it,” he says. “Both organisations believe in open innovation – collaboration between financial institutions and technology providers to build the next generation of innovative technologies.”
Going it alone in terms of innovation is too costly and complex, he adds. While banks compete at a business level, when it comes to technology, many problems are too complex and Mihaescu says it is better to solve such problems in collaboration with colleagues from other financial institutions.
“The problems the financial industry face are so complex that no single bank can solve them. We have to work together at the technology level in order to succeed. You can no longer sit in a research lab on your own and develop solutions,” says Mihaescu.
Sberbank is developing a venture capital fund to help financial services technology companies that will complement the country’s program to develop Moscow as a financial services centre. “There are a small number of venture capital firms in Russia that are funding technology companies, but they are not necessarily focused on the banking sector. We hope to fill a niche and catalyse a movement of innovation in the sector,” says Mihaescu.