ABN Amro has joined the ranks of banks setting up a venture fund to invest in startups that can help the bank accelerate its own digital transformation.
The EUR10 million Digital Impact Fund will invest in companies which have already launched a product and are currently in the growth phase.
The main criterion for investment is that the start-up develops products and technologies that the bank can, in turn, leverage for its customers.
Menno van Leeuwen, head of ABN Amro's Innovation Centre Focus Team says the creation of the fund dovetails with the work being undertaken by the bank to digitise its core business operations. This follows an announcement in November last year that the bank would cut staffing at its branch network and invest in improved online banking services as customers increasingly switch to online and mobile channels.
"The fund will allow the bank to take a strategic stake in a number of promising fintech innovators," he says. "Tactically speaking, we’ll soon be able to provide our customers with even better, smarter and more user-friendly products and services."
Besides the obvious defensive considerations, he says the objectives for investing in fintech start-ups are primarily offensive. "The financial sector can learn a lot from these new players, given their aptitude for responding to, and capitalising on, customer needs, particularly those of the digital generation," he says. "Partnering with, and investing in, this type of start-up pays dividends."