Eastern Bank sets up innovation laboratory

Eastern Bank sets up innovation laboratory

Boston-based Eastern Bank has partnered with former members of PerkStreet Financial to create a new innovation laboratory that will use the bank's data assets to rapidly prototype and launch new technologies for use within the bank and onsale to other financial institutions.

PerkStreet Financial, an online financial services outfit which offered customers cash-back rewards on debit card spending, shut down in Septtember last year as it ran out of funds.

Eastern Labs will be headed by Dan O'Malley, PerkStreet's former CEO whose financial services career began at Capital One where he co-founded the company's payments division. He will serve as EVP and chief digital officer at the new venture. John Magee, PerkStreet's former vice president of analytics, will be senior vice president and chief data scientist. Laurence Stock, PerkStreet's former CFO, will become SVP of emerging technologies.

The new recruits will lead a team of over 80 current Eastern Bank employees who will join the Lab to ensure integration with the bank's operations, technology, and data assets.

Explaining its mission, the Eastern Labs Web site states: "When an experiment is successful, we spin out a new business that already has talent, capital, and partners. We also 'spin in' ideas to Eastern Bank, providing multiple monetization paths. In addition, we partner with existing companies where our access and capital can accelerate innovation."

Eastern Labs will build new technologies for use both within and outside of Eastern Bank. Core to these technologies will be the hundreds of millions of pieces of digital data created every year within Eastern.

"Banks generate incredibly powerful data, with each piece an expression of what a customer wants their money to do," says O'Malley. "Combined with the new ways technology allows us to engage with customers, there are incredible opportunities to pursue, with Eastern's nearly 200 years of history as the platform."

In addition to building technology, Eastern Labs says it will identify and partner with companies outside the bank to further develop "disruptive and transformative" technologies within financial services.

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