The Barclays bank has opened an innovation centre in London for the benefit of its banking and technology team and more than 40 co-located fintech startups. The fintech startups are expected to make maximum use of the opportunity to come up with innovative products for the financial sector. According to the bank, the centre is the largest co-working space in Europe and will be used for hackathons, learning, workshops and networking for up to 200 hours every month. The co-located fintech startups and the bank’s staff are expected to benefit each other in some way. While the bank’s staff is expected to become more experimental through the interaction with the fintechs, these fintechs are also expected to learn some business and operational ideas from the bank staff that is more experienced.
The site is part of the bank’s ongoing programme dubbed the Rise Initiative. Under the same initiative, Barclays has already set up centres in several cities across the world to create platforms, products, and services in collaboration with startup partners. Some of the cities where the centres have been set up include Manchester, Mumbai, New York, Vilnius, Cape Town and Tel Aviv.
In all the centres established by the bank, the Barclays accelerator programme has been particularly prominent. The accelerator programme is powered by Techstars and has seen the bank sign contracts with various participants in such areas as blockchain, big data and artificial intelligence.
According to the Bank’s chief executive, Jes Staley, the bank aims to be a market leader in technology and innovation. This is a clear recognition of the important role that technology will continue to play in the financial sector and the global economy at large. Just a week ago, the bank announced that it had created 750 technology jobs in the UK alone.
Jes further observes that the Rise programme is meant to help the bank in gleaning important insights, experimenting with emerging technologies and spotting early trends and new markets. This enables the bank’s employees, client, and customers to do things better and faster while spending less.
Michael Harte, the Bank’s head of innovation says that making the fintech sector more vibrant is advantageous to the bank’s customers, shareholders and the entire financial services sector.
The Techstars’ network usually runs a 13-week intensive course with the aim of connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and investors so as to promote the next generation of fintech companies. Recently, the Rise offices in London hosted 11 companies as part of this programme. This was a demonstration day for the second cohort of fintech startups that has gone through the Barclays accelerator programme. Each of the participating startups was expected to showcase its technology innovation in the financial services sector.