15th & 16th of May
Maribor, Slovenia
Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nova KBM wishes to collaborate with startups to develop solutions for faster, cheaper and handier monetary transactions!

Nova KBM is the second biggest bank in Slovenia, the traditional general sponsor of PODIM, and this year a PODIM Challenge corporate partner for the second time. They wish to strategically collaborate with startups, mostly in the field of mobile payments and transfers of funds, namely faster, cheaper and handier monetary transactions. Aleš Živkovič, innovation officer and one of the main engines of Nova KBM’s development and its digital transformation, lists pilot innovation projects of the bank, including blockchain-based services, contactless payments, and using data and data analytics to improve the user experience of the online and mobile bank. If your startup is developing solutions in the mentioned areas, we invite you to meet the Nova KBM team at this year’s PODIM, where they will also pay attention to solutions that enable clients to do business remotely, simplify business operations connected to online or mobile investments on stock exchange, in mutual funds and similar, or improve data analytics.
 
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What is the role of the innovation officer in Nova KBM and why can this also be an important piece of information for startups?

Innovation is an important area for companies, and it’s slowly gaining importance in banking as well. Banking is changing significantly under the new legislation, the banking market is opening up, and innovation is what separates banks of the future from banks of the past. The role of the innovation officer is to track technological novelties and place them into the banking environment. Such new opportunities are regularly presented to bank management, who then decide which ones are in line with the business strategy of the bank and will be implemented. For startups, this is an opportunity to establish direct communication with Nova KBM and present their ideas and innovations. At the same time, we are proactive in this field, organizing events such as the Fintech Hackathon and the Winter School of Informatics, and participating at events such as PODIM, where companies and individuals can directly join our innovation processes.
 
Which new technologies, solutions and products, connected to your collaboration with startups, have you introduced to Nova KBM in the past year?

We have quite a few concrete forms of collaboration with startups behind us. For example, we worked with the EqualEyes team last year to launch an updated version of the mBank@Net mobile bank, and our collaboration continues this year as well, mostly in the direction of further development and technical support for the mobile and online bank as well as interactive websites. Of course, we are also looking for new connections with other startups at the already mentioned events such as the hackathon or the Winter School of Informatics. Within both events, the bank successfully tested several concepts, which have also been placed into the proposal for the bank’s new IT strategy. Amongst the more important ones worth mentioning are blockchain technology, contactless payments, and using data and data analytics to improve the user experience in online and mobile banks. In blockchain technology, we also engaged Pošta Slovenije to collaborate with us and develop the idea of a joint service that will be presented to the highest management of both companies.
 
Last year, you highlighted payment traffic and payment card transactions as the areas where you expected the biggest changes due to the fast introduction of new technologies and startup solutions. Is that still the case?

At the forefront this year are mostly topics connected to the PSD2 directive and Instant payment, which will significantly encroach on the field of payment traffic. The current trend goes towards decreasing the need for using payment cards. The latter can, with support of technology, be replaced with direct payments. The other important direction is increasing the use of data analytics in doing business with end users. It’s a step towards artificial intelligence, which will simplify banking and bring it closer to end users. We already touched on blockchain technology and it is definitely an interesting direction, but it currently doesn’t yet have clear speed or final destination. We can definitely expect changes in this domain, but it is difficult to predict what kind of changes they will be and how quickly they will happen.
 
Most concrete solutions that blockchain technology is currently introducing are intended for users in the fintech domain. What do you think are its most essential disruptions that will change banks’ business operations and user behavior?

I personally think that the key moment connected to blockchain technology will be the regulator’s decision on virtual currency. No matter the decision connected to cryptocurrency, the use of technology can contribute towards more effective solutions. We have successfully tested this in collaboration with Pošta Slovenije, where the solution for payment after delivery is based on blockchain technology, but doesn’t use virtual currencies.
 
What were your expectations when you decided to carry out the fintech innovation weekend, i.e. the hackathon, in December last year in collaboration with Venture Factory?

The hackathon in December was the second in a row that the bank organized in collaboration with Venture Factory. By collaborating with innovative fintech startup teams, we mostly see the opportunity to jointly create the best and most innovative solutions for our clients. At the same time, such an event is an excellent opportunity for expanding the circle of potential partners in digitalization of banking processes.
 
How satisfied were you with the presented solutions? Will you be able to introduce them into Nova KBM’s business operations?

We were satisfied with the presentations. Considering the short deadline, very concrete solutions were presented. We also studied the possibilities for using presented solutions and identified those that are most interesting considering our current business goals. We haven’t yet started implementing the activities themselves, because we need to coordinate with other stakeholders in the process.
 
Are you planning similar activities and how frequently?

Besides the hackathon, we already carried out a similar activity in collaboration with the Institute of Informatics at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The topic of this year’s Winter School of Informatics was the development of blockchain apps. The participating students first got familiar with the blockchain technology theory, then developed solutions for payment after delivery. We are also looking for potential partnerships with startups via the PODIM Conference and PODIM Challenge, where we will participate for the second time. In the future, we are also planning such activities, but in a well thought-out way. We’re realizing that overly frequent events don’t make sense. If we hurry too much, opportunities from the events don’t come true in the way we want them to, and that’s not our goal.
 
What are your plans and expectations for this year’s PODIM as our PODIM Challenge corporate partner?

Participation at PODIM Challenge is an important part of our business direction to more tightly connect with the startup environment, build new partnerships, and reach development synergies for introducing advanced tech solutions that could radically change the way the bank does business and communicates with users. Similarly to last year, we will pay special attention to those fintech startups with which we wish to strategically collaborate in designing banking and payment services of the future. More exactly, we’re looking for solutions linked to mobile payments and transfers of funds. What we have in mind is any technology that would enable users to do business remotely, especially when we’re talking about non-clients. We will also pay special attention to advanced user solutions that will simplify services for clients and investors connected to online and mobile investments on stock exchange, in mutual funds and similar. We also wish to use new solutions to improve the use of data and data analytics.
 
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Get in touch with Nova KBM

If you wish to present your innovative solution to Nova KBM or meet its representatives at this year’s PODIM, we invite you to send a message in English language to azivkovic@nkbm.si, nmalec-poklic@nkbm.si and sbirla@nkbm.si.