David Blecken
Apr 23, 2015

DBS aims for innovator positioning with fintech accelerator programme

HONG KONG - DBS Bank has partnered with Nest, a Hong Kong-based incubator, to introduce a financial technology (fintech) programme to the region.

DBS will accept applications from startups until July
DBS will accept applications from startups until July

The bank is soliciting applications for its inaugural DBS Accelerator, which is designed to support startups and entrepreneurs from around the world in developing innovation in the fintech space. Applications will be accepted until 1 July.

DBS and Nest will help those selected to refine their business models. The accelerator programme will be based in a state-of-the-art 5,000-square-foot workspace in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district, according to a statement from the companies.

DBS is not the first major corporation to try to align itself with the startup community, but from a branding perspective, the move helps set it apart from competitors in the financial space, and from Asian companies in general.

In a brief telephone interview with Campaign, Peter Dingle, director of accelerators at Nest, said DBS was keen to “wave the innovation flag” to distinguish itself, but also to put real support behind its claims.

“Consumers don’t buy products, they buy innovation,” Dingle said. “If there are a number of products on display, they’re always going to choose the one that’s more innovative. The banking sector doesn't stick out as a sector riding the innovation train. What DBS wants to do is show they’re not just talking about innovation but carving out resources.”

Dingle pointed to AIA as another rare example of a financial services brand actively pursuing innovation. Last year the insurer also partnered with Nest to launch an accelerator programme for wearable technology and healthcare startups.

“There’s a huge appetite and a large missing skillset in big brands,” Dingle said. “They want to innovate to be able to relate better to consumers, but they’re often not set up as organisations to do that.”

The partnership with Nest follows recent investments of more than US$700 million in strategic technology development and the announcement of a plan to invest $150 million over the next three years to “better harness digital technologies”, according to the statement.

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