US bank holding company BB&T is to set aside $50 million to invest in and acquire emerging digital technology companies in an effort to raise its competitive profile and drive down costs.
The initiative was foreshadowed by BB&T chairman and CEO Kelly King, who said in October that the bank was interested in fintech acquisitions to help accelerate its digital operations.
“This sizable investment in financial technology companies represents an important strategic milestone in our digital business transformation,” says King. “We’re excited about the possibility of new partnerships and innovative approaches to provide the best possible experience for our clients.”
BB&T's path to a new digital future formally began in 2015 with the appointment of Bennett Bradley to the newly-created post of chief digital officer and a seat on the board. Since then, the bank has begun automating its back office operations and rolling out new payment technologies and the U by BB&T digital platform.
Bradley believes a laser focus on fintech investment opportunities will not only accelerate the pace of innovation but also provide the bank with access to a new generation of talent.
“A significant investment in fintech puts BB&T on an aggressive pace to more quickly navigate our digital road map and further foster a culture of innovation throughout the company,” he says. “Things are changing rapidly and we, like many financial institutions, have to move faster to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations."