Best Financial Innovations 2024

Technology advances bring the high-touch experience to more clients, large and small.

While geopolitical tensions, rising oil prices and financial stress are being felt globally, financial institutions understand that innovation during tough times isn’t just about survival but about positioning for future success. Challenges often reveal new problems to solve, demanding increased focus on finding innovative ways to improve efficiencies. Customers’ changing needs also require a response identifying and addressing these evolving needs. The 2024 Best Innovations alumni have developed problem-solving solutions using existing and cutting-edge technologies to push ahead with new ways to improve user experience and meet future challenges, whether to solve a problem, address a need, or create more value.

Top Financial Innovations: AI
Innovation Company
Generative AI-Based Analysis of Central Bank Minutes and Announcements Banco Bradesco
Real-Time Agriculture Smart Assistant DenizBank
AI-Based Fund Monitoring Eurasian Bank
Digital Transformation Kapital Bank

Innovation: Generative AI-Based Analysis of Central Bank Minutes and Announcements

Company: Banco Bradesco

Brazil’s Banco Bradesco is using the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution to understand central bank communications better. Its new generative AI tool analyzes and summarizes the minutes and announcements from the Monetary Policy Committee of Brazil’s central bank and the Federal Open Market Committee of the US Federal Reserve. It generates detailed visualizations like time-series graphs almost immediately. Other features include a “Hawk/Dove indicator,” which provides a simplified representation of the direction of the Central Bank of Brazil’s monetary policy.

Bradesco’s resource managers are the tool’s main users. The bank believes it creates analyses and summaries that are faster and more bias-free than traditional analyses. Its use could lead to revenue gains of as high as 4.2 million Brazilian reais (about $818,000) annually, Bradesco projects.       

Innovation: Real-Time Agriculture Smart Assistant

Company: DenizBank

Helplines have existed for decades. In Central and Eastern Europe, they are often used in the farming sector, where users can ask questions of agricultural engineers. However, providing live experts to answer questions requires expense and time. Users sometimes have to wait hours, even days, for an answer.

Turkey’s DenizBank solved this problem by integrating OpenAI’s ChatGPT services via application programming interface (API) to enhance the efficiency of its “Ask an Engineer” offering. Launched in March 2024, the chatbot is dynamic, meaning it improves the more it is used.     

Innovation: AI-Based Fund Monitoring

Company: Eurasian Bank

In Kazakhstan, would-be homeowners often engage in shared-equity construction, a process in which future owners buy shares in a house under construction. One shortcoming is that the actual use of funds isn’t always straightforward.

Eurasian Bank’s AI-based tool allows real-time automated and transparent monitoring of shareholders’ funds during housing construction. This mitigates fraud and discourages inflated costs. Forecast analytics are used to vet changes in the timing of construction and installation work, and the protocol ensures all necessary documents are accessed during the construction process. 

Innovation: Digital Transformation

Company: Kapital Bank

Kapital Bank has been leading the charge in Azerbaijan’s digital transformation, where 50% of its loan sales are now online. Its secret sauce has been facial recognition software spiced with AI chatbots and a new online scoring model that can verify a customer’s identity and assess whether they are qualified for a loan. The service is available 24/7, and a borrower never has to visit a physical branch.

Top Financial Innovations: Blockchain/Digital Assets
Innovation Company
Digital Asset and Crypto Banking Offering BBVA Switzerland
Digital Bond-Issuance Platform China Central Depository & Clearing Co.
Corda R3

Innovation: Digital Asset and Crypto Banking Offering

Company: BBVA Switzerland

The crypto- and digital-asset market is filled with friction and security risks. However, in 2023, BBVA in Switzerland became the first Tier-1 eurozone bank to provide individual investors custody and trading services for 15 selected cryptocurrencies. It also added tokenization services.

These new capabilities will allow BBVA to meet the needs of its private banking and institutional clients, including fund managers and large companies keen to explore new business opportunities in the digital environment.

The project’s deployment required the collaborative efforts of several bank departments, including business, legal, compliance, engineering, security and IT, as well as outside technology vendors Metaco and Avaloq.

Innovation: Blockchain-Based Digital Bond Project

Company: China Central Depository & Clearing Co.

China’s securities depository, China Central Depository & Clearing Co. (CCDC), recently rolled out one of the world’s first public platforms for blockchain-based digital bond issuance. The underlying distributed ledger technology (DLT) ensures data transparency, openness and multiparty verification.

Not only can market risk be better monitored, but market costs can be saved for participants: about $30 million so far, estimates CCDC. By the end of 2023, the blockchain-based digital bond platform was connected to more than 20 representative financial institutions, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, Bank of Communications and China Merchants Bank.     

Innovation: Corda

Company: R3

R3’s Corda is a leading DLT platform for financial services organizations. In October, it powered the first digital bond issuance on Euroclear’s Digital Financial Market Infrastructure.

The bond, issued by the World Bank with Citi acting as issuer agent, raised €100 million (about $108 million) to support the World Bank’s sustainable development activities.

The Corda platform prioritizes privacy, security and interoperability; and it has supported many other DLT projects, including Progmat’s recent tokenized bond project in Japan. 

Top Financial Innovations: Cash Management/Treasury
Innovation Company
White Label Treasury Management System & Sustainable Supply Chain Finance First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)
Supplier Onboarding Tool for Electronic Supply Chain Finance Gulf International Bank
New Cash Management Program Intesa Sanpaolo
Excess Liquidity Solutions in Commercial Banking TreasurUp

Innovation: White Label Treasury Management System & Sustainable Supply Chain Finance

Company: First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)

In December 2022, the First Abu Dhabi Bank launched a white-label treasury management system, delivered as software as a service (SaaS), in collaboration with fintech platform provider ION Group. One of the key features is a pay-as-you-go model that can bundle modules or functionalities depending on client needs and priced accordingly. Additional modules can be activated and made available when needed.

FAB also launched a sustainability-linked current account for businesses to support clients in achieving environmental, social and governance objectives by contributing to sustainable developments, integrated into their everyday cash management and a sustainability-linked supply chain finance offering.   

Innovation: Supplier Onboarding Tool for Electronic Supply Chain Finance

Company: Gulf International Bank

In 2023, Gulf International Bank began to offer an automated tool to help onboard suppliers electronically to supply chain finance programs. This tool allowed the entire buyer-supplier ecosystem to move away from manual invoice and payment processing to real-time monitoring of invoices, payments and balance tracking.    

Innovation: New Cash Management Program

Company: Intesa Sanpaolo

The bank’s New Cash Management Program consists of two innovative solutions for corporate customers: the Multi-Currency Optimizer and Virtual Account Management. With the first customers activated at the end of 2023, the program includes the first and only notional cash pooling in Italy, optimizing corporate treasury management for groups of companies with international multicurrency operations, including foreign exchange (FX) and liquidity management.    

Innovation: Best Excess Liquidity Solutions in Commercial Banking

Company: TreasurUp

TreasurUp has created the first excess-liquidity front end for banks, going live in 2024. It’s designed from the clients’ point of view—bridging the gap between identifying liquidity needs and liquidity products—and ranges from basic trade to advanced optimization. Linked to cash visibility and cash flow forecasting, it gives an accurate starting point but also allows for a dynamic forecast and recommendation on a “best fit” product—from a savings account to fixed income products and even FX swaps, all using the bank’s pricing. Clients can choose from basic triggers to advanced liquidity management, combining multiple products seamlessly into cash positions and forecasts.  

Top Financial Innovations: Compliance/Risk Innovations
Innovation Company
AI Skynet Project CTBC Bank
eKYC Biometric Tool KASIKORN Business-Technology Group
EMIR Refit Reporting Tool SmartStream

Innovation: AI Skynet Project & Next-Generation Digital Credit Evaluation Process

Company: CTBC Bank

Taiwan’s CTBC Bank has developed an AI-powered protocol designed to thwart customer-level fraud before it is committed. According to the bank, AI Skynet can identify 80% of suspicious accounts 90 days before a scam is reported, reducing fraud cases by 24%. CTBC has been using patented AI technologies to improve credit underwriting, reducing appraisal times by 40%. Its “digital robots” have generated credit scores for all 10.2 million of the bank’s customers.

CTBC Bank has the most ATMs of any organization in Taiwan. With the AI empowerment brought by its AI Skynet project, its ATMs now call the nearest dispatching police office automatically and in real time when a suspicious transaction is detected.

KASIKORN Face Liveness Team

Innovation: eKYC Biometric Tool

Company: KASIKORN Business-Technology Group

Banks increasingly use face-recognition technology for customer onboarding and electronic know-your-customer (KYC) compliance. However, companies still worry about “face-spoofing attacks,” in which fraudsters use a fake face—such as a photograph, 3D model, or physical mask—to bypass a facial recognition system.

Thailand’s KASIKORN Business-Technology Group has developed computer vision technology to foil such attacks. It uses active and passive “liveness” detections. Indeed, KASIKORN is the only organization in Thailand and the third in Asia to achieve this highest level of ISO accreditation for facial-liveness detection.        

Innovation: EMIR Refit Reporting Tool

Company: SmartStream

Many of the new reportable fields introduced by the 2024 European Market Infrastructure Regulation Regulatory Fitness Program (EMIR Refit) relate to commodities and energy, and gathering the necessary reference data may prove challenging for many institutions. The new regulations went into effect for the EU on April 29 and will go into effect for the UK on September 30.

Fintech firm SmartStream’s Reference Data Services (RDS) has created a new data management service, EMIR Refit, to help firms comply. It is based on validated reference data gathered from multiple sources and covers exchange-traded derivatives and supporting attributes for listed securities traded over the counter. 

Top Financial Innovations: Consumer Banking Innovations
Innovation Company
Dukhan Bank Omnichannel Dukhan Bank
Enhanced Mobile Banking App National Bank of Kuwait
QIB Lite App Qatar Islamic Bank
Jeel Weyay Weyay Bank

Innovation: Dukhan Bank Omnichannel

Company: Dukhan Bank

Features include opening foreign currency accounts, cardless cash withdrawals, integration of a digital wallet service, insightful views into spending, the DAwards rewards program, and access to the Rashid virtual assistant. The mobile platform also provides Islamic lifestyle services like checking prayer times, Qibla direction and Athkar, as well as weather forecasts. Families can view and transact using minor accounts. At the same time, cardholders have complete control over their cards. This includes enabling them for international use, managing cash advances and applying for new or replacement cards instantly.        

Innovation: Enhanced Mobile Banking App – Digital Payment Innovations in the New NBK

Company: National Bank of Kuwait

In a first for Bahrain, the National Bank of Kuwait launched, in June 2022, an enhanced app offering a comprehensive solution—integrating multiple banking products and simplifying the customer’s experience. The user can spend, earn and enjoy rewards without the worry of missing the settlement of outstanding payments.      

Innovation: QIB Lite App

Company: Qatar Islamic Bank

Launched in December 2023, QIB Lite is a user-friendly and simplified version of the QIB Mobile App designed for individuals seeking quick and straightforward access to their daily banking needs. It is aimed at low-income earners in Qatar to improve financial inclusion. It consolidates all features and services into one screen, making it easier to navigate and more accessible.          

Innovation: Jeel Weyay

Company: Weyay Bank

February 2024 marked the launch of Jeel Weyay, an innovative digital banking experience for children ages 8-14, featuring a creatively designed card and access to their banking application.           

Top Financial Innovations: Corporate Banking
Innovation Company
Omnify Arab Bank
Mobile App Design Bank Millennium
Workforce Payments Platform Papaya Global
Smart Nudge Standard Bank
Arab Bank’s innovation lab.

Innovation: Omnify

Company: Arab Bank

The Omnify API platform is part of Arab Bank’s fully integrated portfolio of digital banking offerings. Arab Bank’s fintech, Acabes, designed the banking-as-a-service (BaaS) API platform for select markets in the Middle East and North Africa. It enables partner companies to embed financial products for their customers while providing customers with the requisite tools to develop integrated and advanced offerings. Omnify also has different APIs that offer financial products like KYC screening, accounts using virtual international bank account numbers, custom virtual and physical credit and debit cards, and various payment capabilities.

Innovation: Mobile App Design for Companies

Company: Bank Millennium

Bank Millennium’s new mobile app for business and corporate customers is a user-friendly application that can handle large volumes of data for corporate finance departments. To develop the app, Bank Millennium interviewed customers to understand their organizations and how they use the bank’s solutions. The app provides many features like biometric login, easy management of multiple companies and company accounts, more functionality for domestic and foreign transfers, one-click payment authorization, complete order histories, and quickly generated statements that can be sent via a messaging app.          

Innovation: Workforce Payments Solution

Company: Papaya Global

Papaya Global’s workforce payments offering is an SaaS platform specially designed for the global workforce. This true end-to-end fintech platform fuses global payroll and cross-border payments into a single process. It delivers payments directly to a worldwide workforce, without bank processing or currency conversion fees. Papaya enables companies to pay an entire workforce, tax authorities and benefits vendors using a single platform. This automated platform supports different types of employment, ensures compliance globally and provides real-time reports on workforce spending. Papaya also integrates human resources and finance data through human capital management and enterprise resource planning systems to create a single source of truth for clients.

Innovation: Smart Nudge

Company: Standard Bank

Standard Bank’s Smart Nudge supports client engagement by leveraging machine learning and AI to suggest personalized and innovative opportunities for clients, including additional information, products or other relevant content. This business-to-business engine considers the corporate decision-making environment and information across various trading-asset classes, client behavior, and transactional data to develop recommendations. With Smart Nudge, teams can collaborate across business units to expand relationships with clients further. This tool also recalibrates based on interactions and feedback to improve the accuracy of its output and recommendations.

Top Financial Innovations: Investment And Lending
Innovation Company
Digital Portfolio Management Akbank
Digital Compliance – Taxpayer Refund Advance Loan Banco do Brasil
GCC Momentum Fund Markaz
APEX Structured Liquidity Solution Stewards Investment Capital
Akbank’s Digital Product and Service Design team.

Innovation: Digital Portfolio Management

Company: Akbank

Akbank’s wealth management team introduced a digital portfolio management product accessible through the bank’s Akbank Mobile app. This product simplifies investing for customers and lowers the barriers to entry for investing. The tool streamlines traditional processes and offers products tailored to its customers’ investment objectives. Customers also can access finance professionals who can help manage their portfolios. Users can select a portfolio that aligns with their risk tolerance and financial goals and monitor it on their mobile app while accessing funds at any time. By scaling its offerings, Akbank’s product has lowered the capital requirements and created a fully digital experience.     

Innovation: Digital Compliance – Taxpayer Refund Advance Loans

Company: Banco do Brasil

Taxpayer refund advance loans are a high-demand product requiring analysis of thousands of documents during specific times of the year. Banco do Brasil’s Digital Compliance project leverages AI technology to create a more efficient process. The model extracts client information from the documents using a neural network and optical character recognition (OCR) services, including name, address, tax paid, bank account and validation codes. The Digital Compliance project saves time by processing millions of records and eliminating human error. The result is a better user experience.

Innovation: GCC Momentum Fund

Company: Markaz

Kuwaiti wealth adviser Markaz unveiled its GCC Momentum fund, the first passive fund to invest across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets to provide regional exposure. The fund follows the momentum methodology and holds shares of companies listed in the S&P Momentum GCC Composite Index that have sustained a high momentum score over the past 12 months. This fund capitalizes on the upward trajectory of stock prices by investing in those with the most growth momentum.        

Innovation: Apex Structured Liquidity Solution

Company: Stewards Investment Capital

The Apex Structured Liquidity Solution gives institutional and private investors access to private credit and microfinance industries. This low-risk cash management solution offers risk-adjusted returns in US dollars. It provides investors with a predictable fixed-income cash flow without the volatility of mark-to-market adjustments. Through a partnership with FAVO Capital, Apex leverages AI to analyze clients’ live bank accounts, assessing their creditworthiness within two hours. Integrating with client bank accounts ensures more-reliable repayments that result in steady returns for investors.          

Top Financial Innovations: SME Innovations
Innovation Company
Pulsoo Banco BPI
Business Banking ePay Boubyan Bank
Naturália OTP Group

Innovation: Pulsoo

Company: Banco BPI

The Pulsoo app gives small-business owners a holistic approach to managing financial and regulatory positions. The app, a collaboration between Banco BPI and the Portuguese telecom NOS, is tailored toward small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), sole proprietors, and self-employed professionals. The app can aggregate and initiate payments as well as connect with tax authorities. It can link multiple bank accounts from major Portuguese banks and access a consolidated view that includes balances and transactions. Pulsoo users can transfer funds between accounts, initiate service payments, and process payments for government authorities. Its budgeting functions help companies manage funds, and it provides a preview of upcoming transactions.          

Innovation: Business Banking ePay

Company: Boubyan Bank

Boubyan Bank recently enhanced the peer-to-peer payment functionality, called ePay, of its SME banking application, so that small businesses can seamlessly manage their payments. With ePay, customers can schedule payments with automatic payment links. The new subscription model works such that customers can settle payments weekly, monthly or annually. They can also send automatic SMS reminders to customers who have not yet paid. And ePay enables customers to pay the links with a debit card, between Boubyan users with a face ID, or a credit card.     

Innovation: Naturália

Company: OTP Group

OTP Group’s Naturália is a digital credit offering for the agricultural sector that offers loans based on nonfinancial agricultural information. With more precise data, OTP Group can monitor the industry’s risks and trends and offer more personalized loans to customers. Naturália uses a detailed, transparent and integrated database that maps properties and collateral to provide bespoke loans to customers. The platform also processes requisite loan documents in an automated process that leverages the integration of business process management, robotic process automation, OCR, and many document management systems.