BNP Paribas Securities Services has set up a 20-person innovation and digital lab (I&D Lab) staffed by industry veterans to focus on the use of big data and distributed ledger technologies and potential investment oppotunities in the fintech sector.
Bank innovation labs have a poor rep among cynical industry-watchers, who tend view them as a PR exercise, staffed by spotty tech geeks with little experience of the nuts and bolts of the business.
The French bank is taking a more serious tack, appointing its former head of clearing, settlement and custody products Philippe Ruault to head up the new unit which will be situated at the company's Paris-based campus.
The bank says the lab will initially consist of a team of at least 20 experts drawn from across the business with expertise in IT, product design and client development. External technology specialists will also be brought in to assist with specific areas of development.
With an initial focus on big data and distributed ledger technology, the banks says the lab will look at how technology can assist with data management and visualisation, the distribution of products and new ways of helping clients clients manage their cash and liquidity requirements.
In addition to developing technology in-house, BNP Paribas Securities Services says it will also seek to identify opportunities to invest in and partner with external organisations, including leading fintech start-ups and other research and development laboratories.
The bank is already in discussion with a number of organisations and recently announced plans to launch a crowdfunding platform utilising distributed ledger technology in partnership with SmartAngels in France.
Says Ruault: "Having a dedicated team, focused purely on advancing and nurturing new technology and innovation, will ensure we remain at the cutting edge of the change taking place within the securities services industry.
"There are some extremely interesting and important challenges which need to be addressed around many of the nascent areas of technology currently vying to shake up things up in our industry. We are really looking forward to tackling these challenges head on and to moving these ideas to the next stage.”