StanChart opens innovation lab in Singapore

StanChart opens innovation lab in Singapore

Singapore - Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart) on Wednesday announced the opening of its Asian innovation lab in Singapore. Called the eXellerator, the lab builds upon the bank's technology centre in Silicon Valley, SC Studios, and is the first such dedicated and strategic space for the bank in this region.

Anju Patwardhan, StanChart's global chief innovation officer, said the Singapore eXellerator, which is located in the bank's main office building at Marina Bay Financial Centre, will work closely with the business units within StanChart and explore the use of emerging technologies and data science for sustainable business solutions.

Speaking to The Business Times, she added that the innovation lab will support global initiatives and employ about 15 to 20 people.

"We have recruited part of the team, and will be recruiting the rest over the next few months. Majority of the hires so far have been external hires with the relevant skills in this area. In addition, we will continue to leverage on our innovation outpost in Silicon Valley to continue to monitor trends and identify new emerging technology partners," she added.

Ms Patwardhan noted that the eXellerator is StanChart's first innovation lab in Asia and will support building business solutions for the bank's businesses globally. It will complement SC Studios, which was established in 2010, she added.

The bank's group chief information officer, Michael Gorriz, said the rise of fintechs has created greater opportunities for banks to enhance customer experience, reduce costs, mitigate risks and put power into the hands of their customers through innovative deployment of technology. "The eXellerator will expedite the implementation of digital solutions to deliver more value to our clients with improved service offerings and new business models for a new generation," Dr Gorriz said.

Noting that the Republic has a great ecosystem of banks, fintech companies, venture capital firms, universities and research organisations, Ms Patwardhan said Singapore has the potential to become the fintech hub of the region and spread its positive experiences into ASEAN and the greater Asia region.

"Given the speed and ease that Asian individuals have embraced technological change, they are ready for more innovative ways to save, grow and protect their wealth - this promises great potential for an international bank like Standard Chartered."

She added that banks and fintech firms can have a symbiotic relationship where each can leverage on the other and enhance the overall value proposition for the customers.

StanChart had the support of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in the launch of its innovation lab in Singapore.

Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS chief fintech officer, said: "The financial sector is an integral part of Singapore's ambition to be a Smart Nation. A Smart Financial Centre with an open architecture and collaborative fintech community will promote innovation, application of technology advancements and talent development in financial services. MAS is delighted to have Standard Chartered Bank as a key contributor to the fintech ecosystem with the launch of its innovation lab in Singapore."

Ms Patwardhan noted that StanChart had earlier signed a multi-year collaboration agreement with A*STAR's Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) - Singapore's national information and communications technology research institute - to jointly work on data science research and experimentation by leveraging the institute's vast network of world-class data scientists and software engineers, and StanChart will work closely with universities in Singapore.

This article was first published on March 24, 2016.
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