National Australia Bank is to establish a $50 million venture fund to invest in startups with fresh ideas in mobile banking, payments and data and analytics.
The $50 million pot is to be deployed over the next three years, as the bank bids to access "leading ideas and capabilities from around the world through entering into partnerships, alliances and making investments in innovative companies".
NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn says: “This is an investment in our business designed to improve customer experience through innovative solutions, making banking easier, better and simpler. Banking globally is undergoing a digital transformation and NAB Ventures will ensure NAB is able to embrace these changes to deliver innovative solutions for our customers.”
The venture fund will be part of NAB Labs, a dedicated inhouse capability designed to build a culture of innovation and customer-led design at the bank. A key aspect of the initiative is the creation of a new 'Digital Acceleration Programme' to enable digital innovation to be developed and put in the hands of customers and bankers quickly.
“It’s critical that we are able to act quickly and be nimble in bringing digital innovation to market,” says Thorburn. “We want our team to be among the best global thinkers in the innovation space and give our customers access to the best innovative thought - and we recognise that won’t all necessarily come from inside NAB.
NAB is following in the footsteps of local rival Westpac, which launched its own $50 million 'Reinventure' fund last year. Early beneficiaries include P2P lender SocietyOne, bitcoin exchange Coinbase, online marketplace PromisePay, big data outfit Zetaris, and social media startup Nabo.