ESG issues are becoming increasingly important for financial institutions. These are all activities related to the environment, social responsibility and corporate governance. Environmental challenges, legal regulations and pressure from the market and investors make banks adjust their approach to sustainable development. Concrete goals have been set by Bank Pekao S.A., which in 2021 published an ESG strategy in line with its business strategy for 2021-2024.
The Innovation Lab Office at Bank Pekao S.A. aims to support ESG activities and strategy implementation by undertaking innovative projects. It invites Polish and foreign startups to cooperate in designing and implementing new solutions in the banking sector.
The Bank joins forces with startups
One of the tasks of the Innovation Lab is scouting – active observation of the world of startups, fintechs and technology companies. In this way, it looks for solutions that meet the needs of business owners at Bank Pekao S.A. This time, the Innovation Lab is opening up to technology products and services that will support the implementation of Bank Pekao S.A.’s ESG strategy. It is based on three pillars: environment, engagement and order.
At the first stage of cooperation, the Innovation Lab will verify whether the need addressed by the solution submitted by the startup is present in the organization. It is advisable to attach to the application a specific application of the solution in the corporate environment and the value it will bring to the bank and a specific segment of clients.
In the next steps, the solution will be thoroughly analyzed and presented to business owners at Bank Pekao S.A. The Innovation Lab will invite to the meeting those startups whose products and services have the potential to be implemented. The meeting is an opportunity to get to know the technological solutions in more detail and discuss the possibilities of cooperation. The Innovation Lab will act as a mentor that comprehensively supports the entire cooperation process up to the stage of commercial implementation.
Search for foreign startups with the support of gas pedals
From the beginning of 2022 one of the main projects of the Innovation Lab is the participation in the Poland Prize program. Thanks to this program, Bank Pekao S.A. is to start cooperation with at least 8 foreign startups. The gas pedals supporting the Bank – MIT Enterprise Forum CEE and Space3.ac – are currently searching for startups whose solutions meet the challenges defined by Bank Pekao S.A. employees. One of the priority areas are topics related to the implementation of the ESG strategy.
The Bank also seeks to cooperate with companies from Poland:
– In addition to the implementation of the Poland Prize program, we also invite national organizations to cooperate with us. We are keen to learn about innovative solutions that will help deliver value to customers, familiarise them with the idea of ESG and ultimately provide them with digital solutions – ones that will help them control their impact on the planet and society – says Olga Drwal, Innovation Partnership Specialist at Bank Pekao S.A. Innovation Lab, working with the startup ecosystem.
Innovative projects for the environment
Each of the three pillars of Bank Pekao S.A.’s ESG strategy is an opportunity for innovation. The environmental priority is the activities related to the transition to a low-carbon economy and reducing the carbon footprint. Increasingly, banks around the world are giving customers the ability to calculate their individual carbon footprint based on consumer choices or non-cash transactions. The Innovation Lab looks at such technological innovations holistically:
– When introducing digital tools that address the issue of carbon footprint, there are three dimensions of functionality worth keeping in mind. The first is calculation, whereby we make the customer aware of the impact of their consumer decisions and lifestyle on generating emissions. Once we build awareness, it’s time for the second dimension – taking action to reduce that effect. The final step is to offset emissions by financially supporting pro-environmental initiatives that reduce the global greenhouse effect. We want to cooperate with organizations to which these three aspects are important. – says Olga Drwal.
An example of a startup that offers pro-environmental technologies is Cogo, dedicated to banks. In addition to estimating the carbon footprint of non-cash transactions, it enables the bank to propose its clients such investments that are aimed at climate protection. The Ecolytiq solution, on the other hand, provides educational content that engages the user. It also makes it possible to offset the carbon footprint through donations or investments. Another area in which Innovation Lab would like to collaborate is impact investing, which is the allocation of money to projects that not only generate investor returns, but also have a significant impact on the environment, society, or the development of companies with high standards of corporate governance.
Engagement starts with education
Activities of financial institutions related to the “commitment” pillar are often based on introducing positive changes through educational activities. Pekao S.A. Bank cares about broadening its customers’ knowledge not only about banking products and services, but also about the basics of personal finance management. To achieve this goal among the youngest customers, Bank Pekao S.A. offers the PeoPay Kids application. The Innovation Lab is currently conducting research and usability tests of the new application functionalities. All this is done in order to make the world of finance more interesting for children, give them access to knowledge and enable them to practice new skills in practice.
– The main objective of the research is to verify children’s interests, needs and expectations and to direct further work on the PeoPay Kids application functionalities so that they meet those needs, says Mirosława Jurecka, Innovation Research Specialist at Bank Pekao S.A. Innovation Lab.
Learning to manage finances is an interesting issue for banks. Startup Zogo Finance implements it in the formula of gamification. Applications Stash, Investr and Qoore, on the other hand, focus on transferring knowledge about investing.
Equality is the basis of “commitment” and “order”
At Bank Pekao S.A., activities that promote development, diversity and equality, both among employees and consumers, are important. The Innovation Lab sees room for innovative projects in providing customers with inclusive products and services, adapted, for example, to the needs of people with disabilities. In this area noteworthy technologies are offered by accessiBe or Polish startups Associated Apps and Migam.
In the area of corporate governance, there are already several interesting digital tools, e.g. the platform offered by Syndio to monitor inequalities in salaries, promotions and performance evaluation between female and male employees. Also available on the market is Candidate X, a platform that anonymizes resume data to eliminate personal bias in the hiring process.
Work with Bank Pekao S.A.
Startups that offer technology solutions in the areas mentioned above and others related to the environment, social engagement and governance can apply to the Innovation Lab at Bank Pekao S.A.
– We encourage all interested parties to contact us by email at [email protected]. We will be happy to talk about technologies that fit into any of the ESG areas. – adds Olga Drwal.
The article was written in cooperation with Bank Pekao S.A.