NTB’s Kaffeine Labs to ignite innovation | Sunday Observer

NTB’s Kaffeine Labs to ignite innovation

NTB officials at the launch of Kaffeine Labs . PICTURE BY SIRIPALA HALWALA
NTB officials at the launch of Kaffeine Labs . PICTURE BY SIRIPALA HALWALA

The new financial technology innovation centre set up by Nations Trust Bank (NTB) plans to disrupt Sri Lanka’s financial services sector landscape by challenging the status quo and providing futuristic solutions to the problems of the people, its Chief Executive Officer said.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the launch of ‘Kaffeine Lab’, at Gregory’s Road in Colombo, NTB CEO Renuka Fernando said the new research centre will institutionalize the culture of innovation and be the catalyst for NTB’s ‘disruptive thinking’ towards the operating and business models of the financial services industry.

“The major goal is to open the bank’s systems to developers and enthusiasts so that they may use Nations Trust Bank’s existing infrastructure to build new financial technology products and services which can be delivered via the bank’s own platforms or via third party platforms,”Fernando said.

She said that the key objectives of the this ‘dream lab’ is to actively engage and collaborate with other ecosystems such as non-financial sector industries, academics, start-ups and the customers themselves to solve real customer problems, enhancing customer experience through disruptive digital transformation and radically changing the operating and business models in the financial services industry.

“We want to foster a strong innovative and digital culture within Nations Trust by working closely with all internal stakeholders to prototype, pilot and implement solutions which transforms the way the bank works,” the Chief Executive pointed out.

She elaborated that when NTB entered the financial services sector seventeen years ago, it disrupted the industry through innovation as it was a time when banks were closing their branches at 3PM and transactions were not able to take place during weekends.

“We kept our branches open until 8 p.m., 365 days a year at the time. A few months ago, we introduced a savings product that enables a person to open a savings account completely online without having any need to walk into a bricks and mortar branch for any purpose. So, it is the culture of innovation that we want to promote and that is why we also have a Chief Innovation Officer appointed at the bank,” said Fernando. Meanwhile, the Chief Innovation Officer at Nations Trust Bank, Dinesh Thomas said that although Sri Lanka has a deep and vibrant pool of talent, ideas are raw and those with ideas need mentors to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

“This is one of the most important functions of the Innovation Lab, to provide mentorship and guidance, for example, in marketing, business and strategizing.

Sri Lanka’s financial sector lags behind in terms of development and integration and the only way forward is for new ideas to come in and for us to open our doors and minds to feedback,” Thomas said.

The first initiative of the Nations Trust Innovation Lab is Sri Lanka’s first Fintech hackathon, which has been organized in collaboration with the University of Moratuwa – Faculty of IT and the Sri Lanka Association for Artificial Intelligence (SLAAI), while connecting with other institutions such as the universities of Peradeniya, Sabaragamuwa and Jaffna, along with other private educational institutions.

The hackathon, which will be held on November 10 at the Kaffeine Lab, will see geeks and tech professionals from different backgrounds bring their ideas together to compete and create meaningful solutions.

“The focus of the event will be conceptualizing real life problems in the financial services sector and coming up with solutions to them.

It is a callout to the brilliant talent we have in this country and there will be no limit to creativity as solutions can be delivered through the web, mobile, IOT, augmented reality or any other platform as long as it is related to financial services,” he said.