Banking 2020

The Definitive Industry Guide

Most Innovative Banks

With COVID-19 limiting banks’ ability to offer their services in person, innovative digital products are more important than ever



Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) was established in 1977 on the idea of ‘traditional values, innovative ideas’. This is more important than ever today. By committing to the employment of smart people with sharp ideas, RMB has been able to apply its unique thinking to a wide variety of financial services, changing customers’ lives in the process. Recently, the bank produced its Trends Shaping Sectors report, using its knowledge of key cross-industry trends and developments to advise and inform on what changes the world may face in the coming years. The report analyses multiple sectors, including financial services, agriculture and insurance, in order to create awareness and curiosity about the planet’s evolving future. It is RMB’s hope that this kind of innovative thinking will enable it to plan for the organisation’s – and its customers’ – successful future.



Ever since 2017, when it attracted more than 820,000 clients in its first four days of operations, South Korea’s KakaoBank has gone from strength to strength. One of the nation’s first digital-only banks, it quickly became a global leader in digital banking, hitting the 10 million customer mark in 2019. This is a particularly impressive feat for an organisation that began life as a messaging app: Kakao Talk was one of South Korea’s most popular messaging services when its parent company, Kakao Corp, branched out into banking three years ago. In a nod towards its technological roots, IT staff make up roughly 40 percent of KakaoBank’s total workforce. At the start of this year, co-CEO Lee Yong-woo announced that the bank would aim to hold its IPO in the second half of 2020 – whether this goes ahead in the current COVID-19 environment remains to be seen.



For more than 150 years, BNZ has been working with customers in New Zealand and abroad to change the face of banking. Its personalised banking service has won it acclaim and accolades from a variety of sources, and its support for local communities and sustainability initiatives has made it a respected name in global banking. Customers can divide their accounts for spending or saving, or give them nicknames and photos to separate their funds into unique pots. The bank’s mobile banking app has a whole host of other features too, including the ability to block and unblock cards with a tap, change which accounts are linked to your card, and adjust your contactless settings. Home loan repayments can be managed through BNZ’s internet banking, including adjusting payment amounts or seeing how small changes in your loan package could save you thousands in interest.


BNP Paribas

According to BNP Paribas, innovation guides every aspect of the bank’s operations. Its top priority is to simplify and speed up banking operations for its customers, making its services and products more convenient to use and more useful in a rapidly changing world. BNP Paribas promotes a culture of dynamic creativity within its walls, noting that today more than ever, it is vital for any financial services company to offer the best in digital and physical technologies. As such, BNP Paribas has teamed up with a collection of start-ups, fintech firms and major corporations to reinvent its relationship with clients and help streamline the banking process. One recent success was its International Hackathon, which helped identify a selection of tech entrepreneurs who will positively contribute to the sector’s customer experience in future.



With Greece’s banking sector enjoying a period of recovery and renewed positivity, Eurobank is well placed to meet its unique vision: to become the most mature digital bank in South-East Europe. Increased investment in human resources, digital services and technical infrastructure has boosted the bank’s reputation as the country’s most innovative savings bank.

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Created in 2017 by Bradesco, Brazil’s second-largest private bank, Next is a digital-only bank developed for younger generations. The bank’s executive superintendent Jeferson Honorato told Forbes that 86 percent of Next’s clients in 2018 weren’t clients with Bradesco previously – a sign that the innovative new bank has successfully tapped into a key market. Next’s digital-only experience is tailored to each customer, most of whom are aged 18 to 35, guiding them through their financial journey and helping them achieve their short and long-term goals. It also makes use of social networks to provide useful services: its Vaquinha feature provides an easy way for friends to split payments, while Flow and Objectives provide helpful tips and guide clients through investments. As a final lure to Millennials and Generation Z, Next also offers exclusive discounts with companies like Uber.

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Boubyan Bank

Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank is driven by innovation. Its Sharia-compliant banking services are divided across five segments, including consumer, corporate and investment banking. Each of these is supported by a unique technological framework that helps customers make the most of their finances and understand the opportunities that are available to them. Boubyan Bank’s online banking system protects consumers’ money against online fraud and losses by offering a 24/7, secure service that allows clients to track their transactions instantly. The bank’s capital division, meanwhile, operates across multiple different wealth funds, including its Boubyan Kuwait Real Estate Fund and the Islamic Global Sukuk Fund. By fostering creativity in all of its operations, Boubyan has been able to focus on creating a high-performing organisation that nurtures and supports its customers.

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BMO Bank of Montreal

Only last year, BMO introduced a new segment to its banking operations: the BMO Technology and Innovation Banking Group. This specialised group works to provide advice and funding to a whole variety of organisations – from start-ups to well-established industry heavyweights – in order to guide them through challenging periods in their life cycle. More broadly, BMO has worked with tech firms for many years, realising how important they are to the future development of the global economy. Within this, the bank has dedicated a key part of its services to innovating for a Millennial world: with the US market in particular struggling with one of the most challenging job markets in its history, BMO’s dedicated fintech experts can provide sophisticated cash management solutions to customers and a wide range of innovative financial services, including acquisition financing and venture debt.