x15ventures (x15), Commonwealth Bank of Australia's venture-scaling entity, has launched a stand-alone platform aimed at helping the next wave of digital businesses and entrepreneurs meet the regulatory, risk and compliance challenges that comes with scaling their operations.
The ‘xStack’ platform sits on a technology stack separate to CBA’s core banking systems, and is explicitly designed to enable companies to keep innovating within the regulatory and security constraints of the banking industry,
“We see it as an enterprise grade ‘venture-in-a-box’ platform by embedding bank-grade security protocols,” says x15ventures managing director Toby Norton-Smith. “And although we’re not prescriptive about the core product technology for a venture, we do see huge benefits in common workflow and coding repository tools that allow ventures and x15 to interact. We will provide a venture with a set of core technology services — infrastructure, standard tooling and workplace — so from day one they can actually focus on their business.
“It buys you a ticket to access CBA’s assets and that is really what we have been trying to crack.”
Norton-Smith says if they can crack that code, then xStack could become a commercial product in itself. “I look forward to having enterprise customers of xStack beyond CBA when we are finished with it, and they don’t have to be just Australian.”
CBA launched x15 in February 2020, with the goal to kick-start 25 new fintech businesses in the first five years. To date, x15 has either launched, invested-in or acquired six business ventures with more to come this calendar year.
“We’re not a corporate venture capital vehicle, and we're not incentivised or focused on passive minority investment positions,” he says. “Writing a cheque to invest in a venture is actually one of the easier things you can do in corporate venturing.”
“What’s harder to do is to explicitly deliver a commercial benefit to that venture," he continues. "Getting our ventures technically scalable and regulatory safe means we can then move more quickly to distribute them to CBA’s customer base, or leverage the CommBank brand to promote their service."