Get to know Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab

Fintech and innovation, two words that mean a lot to Railsbank. Our CEO Nigel Verdon recently joined The Fintech Innovation Lab (FIL) in London as a mentor, as part of our commitment to both the future of fintech and fostering innovation.

The Fintech Innovation Lab in London is a 12 week accelerator, run by Accenture, in partnership with 47 UK and European banks and insurers. The accelerator is designed to help the very best start-ups grow, and is achieved by using a phenomenal network built up over 10 years to rapidly test and iterate propositions to find strong product/market fit. The Lab has a unique set of mentors that have grown businesses and the start-ups have access to Accenture’s experience of bringing the industry together to innovate and drive change.

Nigel Verdon spoke to The Fintech Innovation Lab’s Programme Director, Tom Graham, about the journey of FIL so far and the future ahead.

Tom Graham, FIL Programme Director

We set up the FinTech Innovation Lab ten years ago in New York, with the Partnership Fund for New York City. We brought it to London two years later, and also set up in Hong Kong soon after. Our pitch was simple — connect banks with tech, and bring sponsors that could drive change within their organisations.

Over the years we’ve moved towards founders that have got something — a strong idea, a prototype, experience in another industry but a desire to move into financial services — and helped them grow. We hope that firms will get 12 months worth of productivity in 12 weeks — massively accelerating their ability to validate and then grow.

More recently, we’ve made a hard effort to redress the gender balance for female founded start-ups, and this year, will seek to do more to support black entrepreneurs.

We’ve tried to stay practical. Too early, there is not enough to engage on and we’ve found our partners find it hard to work with. Too late, the conversation is too much about driving sales. We’ve also tried to avoid the innovation theatre that has achieved little for organisations.

We partnered with Nationwide and others on Open Banking For Good (OB4G). Many fine companies came out of that — such as Tully from Openwrks — that are really trying to make a difference to people in financial difficulty. It was also a good validation of the things you could build with these new APIs.

Be kind. It’s a tough world and thinking about customers and colleagues will be more important than ever before.

People talk about this conundrum — will big institutions get tech before the fintechs get scale. I’m not sure there’s a clear answer yet with some winners on both sides. What will be decisive for incumbents is partnering with tech players to help them start again in many respects, with the challenge of bringing the old world into the future. For the new players, profitability will be key, and the ability to keep delighting as they scale.

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The FinTech Innovation Lab applications for the 2021 cohort finish today. Please get in touch with if you’re interested in finding out more!

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