8 Banking Corporate Ventures Leading the Way in Portfolio Diversification

Find out how these leading global banks leveraged corporate venturing to enter new markets, expand their customer base, and create new revenue streams.

8 banking corporate ventures leading the way in portfolio diversification
8 banking corporate ventures leading the way in portfolio diversification

In today’s fast-moving and highly uncertain landscape, the key to long-term success lies in spotting new growth areas fast, seizing emerging opportunities before anyone else and mitigating risk through a highly diversified portfolio. 

This is especially true in the banking sector, which has undergone a radical transformation in the last few years, accelerated by the pandemic and spurred by: 

  • New technologies (e.g. blockchain, AI)
  • Increased customer demand for digital banking experiences (e.g. millennials and gen Z)
  • New entrants (e.g. digital banks like N26 and cross-over players like Apple and Amazon)

So how are some of the world’s leading banks staying ahead of it all? You guessed it: corporate venturing. 

By developing portfolios of new ventures, these banks can anticipate disruptions and meet rapidly changing customer demands head-on. They do this by effectively leveraging their assets and capabilities to test new offerings, expand into new markets, and grow beyond their core business. 

To give you a better idea of how this works in practice, we did a quick search on our corporate venture database and found a list of inspiring corporate ventures in the banking sector.

Bodil Energi by Nordea

Headquarters:
Østerbro, Denmark
Proximity to core business:
Radical
Founded:
2020
Type of venture:
Partnership
Business model:
D2C
Industry:
Banking, Energy

Bodil Energi provides solar panels, heat pumps, digital energy efficiency tools and expert retrofitting advice for homeowners looking for green energy solutions. Within its first five months, Bodil Energi was able to reduce residential heating emissions by over 200 tonnes of yearly CO2 emissions, and their positive impact will only grow as the company gains more expertise. 

These results wouldn’t have been possible without their partner and co-creator, Nordea, a leading Nordic financial services provider. 

What’s in it for Nordea?

As part of its partnership with Bodil Energi, Nordea offers “energy-saving loans” to help customers finance their retrofitting. The loans are available to all homeowners, including those that do their banking with competitors. 

The partnership is a win for both sides, making Bodil Energi’s services accessible to more people and giving Nordea access to a new pool of potential customers.

Drive by RBC

Headquarters:
Toronto, Canada
Proximity to core business:
Radical
Founded:
2017
Type of venture:
Built in-house
Business model:
D2C
Industry:
Banking, Automotive

Built from scratch by RBC Ventures (now RBCx), the Drive app helps Canadian users stay up-to-date on their car maintenance, book service appointments and receive exclusive rewards. It also provides digital document storage, provides recall notifications and provides users with estimated valuations on their vehicles, among other handy features. 

It’s just one of the many ventures developed by RBC Ventures, the Royal Bank of Canada's corporate venture arm, built to attract new clients through meaningful solutions. Other successful startups by RBC Ventures include:

  • Arrive - A venture geared towards helping immigrants adapt to their new life in Canada. 
  • Dr.Bill - The largest dedicated medical billing software service in Canada.
  • GarbageDay - Provides users with weekly reminders for garbage and recycling collection days, keeping them updated on any schedule changes.

What’s in it for RBC?

When first launched back in 2017, part of RBC Ventures' mission was to attract 5 million users in the space of 5 years through various new digital offerings. The ultimate goal was to convert 10% of those users into RBC banking clients.

By launching new and innovative services like Drive aimed at car owners, Arrive aimed at immigrants, and Dr.Bill aimed at physicians, RBC is learning about and tapping into new, unexplored customer bases. It’s an excellent way to extend its capabilities beyond traditional banking and financial services.  

Home-in by Commbank

Headquarters:
Sydney, Australia
Proximity to core business:
Adjacent
Founded:
2020
Type of venture:
Partnership
Business model:
D2C
Industry:
Banking, Real Estate

Home-in makes buying a home simpler, with a support team to guide you through everything from contract review to settlement, in one personalised digital experience. The app enables users to connect with accredited service providers throughout the home-buying journey, including lenders and building inspectors, among others.

Home-in is a product of x15, a venture scaler that builds, acquires and invests in early-stage ventures with the funding and support of CommBank. Other successful ventures from x15 include: 

  • Kit - A money management app for kids. 
  • Doshi - a cloud platform that helps hospitality venues manage everything from reservations to online delivery services, to customer loyalty programs to payments.
  • Own Home - Designed to help renters become homeowners. 

What’s in it for Commbank?

Part of x15’s goal is to leverage Commbank’s existing assets to create new value for 15 million customers. Each new venture created, enables Commbank to learn about new customer needs, establish strategic partnerships, test out new technologies and develop new capabilities.  

 Current plans include tapping into the local tech and innovation community by launching over 25 new ventures by 2024.

Erica Virtual Assistant by Bank Of America

Headquarters:
Charlotte, USA
Proximity to core business:
Adjacent
Founded:
2018
Type of venture:
Built in-house
Business model:
D2C
Industry:
Banking, AI

Erica is an AI-driven virtual assistant designed to help BofA app users with banking activities like monitoring recurring payments, getting notified about duplicate charges, reviewing their spending and much more. Customers can access Erica using voice, text, or tapping options on their phone's screen. 

Since its launch back in 2018, Erica has had over 1 billion client interactions and helped almost 32 million Bank of America customers manage their finances. As explained by Aditya Bhasin, the bank’s Chief Technology & Information Officer:

“Our continued investment in Erica’s AI-powered capabilities enables us to quickly respond to voice, text chat or on-screen interactions from clients who need assistance with financial transactions, and to proactively deliver personalised insights and advice at key moments.”

What’s in it for Bank Of America?

Over the last decade, Bank of America has invested over $3 billion in new tech initiatives like Erica and CashPro (an application for payments, receipts, investments and more, with a reported $602 billion in payment approvals). 

The investments are clearly paying off by enabling the bank to deliver highly personalised, efficient and seamless user experiences (not to mention develop its AI capabilities and learn more about its customers through the app's data). Today, Erica is the most accessed virtual banking assistant, bringing in new customers and keeping existing ones loyal.

Optimile by BNP Paribas Fortis

Headquarters:
Gent, Belgium
Proximity to core business:
Radical
Founded:
2009
Type of venture:
Investment
Business model:
B2B
Industry:
Banking, Mobility

Optimile is a cloud-based, customisable mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) and Charging- as-a-Service (CaaS) platform for businesses. It helps companies meet their daily travel needs and offer the ultimate electric and mobility experience to their employees.

Our Bundl team helped put the venture together, initially exploring the mobility space for BNPPF and eventually assisting in the co-investing process for Optimile. 

What’s in it for BNP Paribas?

By investing in this venture, BNPPF was able to expand its activities beyond banking and move into the electric-mobility market.

Vipps by DNB

Headquarters:
Oslo, Norway
Proximity to core business:
Close
Founded:
2018
Type of venture:
Built in-house
Business model:
B2C/B2B
Industry:
Banking, Tech

Vipps is a mobile payments app that can be used to transfer money or pay for products and services. It enables businesses to collect their fees in a secure and efficient way. 

Launched by DNB back in 2015, the app quickly became a contender in the digital payments industry. By 2017, it was competing with several rival platforms like MobilePay and international players like Google and Apple.

What’s in it for DNB?

Like most banks, DNB (one of the biggest banks in Norway) was exploring different ways to enter the digital banking space. Just 6 months after they launched Vipps, the app reached 1 million users - enabling DNB to tap into a new market and expand its digital banking capabilities. 

DealWise by ING

Headquarters:
Bucharest, Romania
Proximity to core business:
Radical
Founded:
2020
Type of venture:
Built in-house
Business model:
D2C
Industry:
Banking, E-commerce

DealWise is a shopping app that collects the best offers from users’ favourite brands to help them save money. It provides users with personalised deals from over 1000 retailers including Amazon, based on their shopping habits. 

The venture was developed by ING as a “beyond banking” service and has since been rolled out across Europe.

What’s in it for ING?

The DealWise app is available to users regardless of whether or not they are ING customers, providing the bank with access to a much wider base across Europe. It’s also enabling ING to establish strategic partnerships with retailers like Amazon, Aldo, Farfetch, Dell, Foot Locker and more.  

Eno by Capital One

Headquarters:
Virginia, USA
Proximity to core business:
Close
Founded:
2017
Type of venture:
Built in-house
Business model:
B2C
Industry:
Banking, software

Eno helps customers monitor and secure their accounts by sending text notifications about unusual activity. It also uses virtual card numbers to help protect credit card accounts online.

The venture was developed by Capital One’s venturing arm, The Lab, which explores new offerings and technologies to help the bank meet the growing demand for better experiences, convenient processes and protection against fraud. 

What’s in it for Capital One?

Launching Eno has enabled capital one to offer its customers more complete, secure and convenient services while expanding its digital banking capabilities and know-how. 

Hungry for more corporate ventures?

Be sure to check out our corporate venture database and use the filters to find exactly what you’re looking for from over 300 examples from various industries. Each venture is listed with a brief description and other useful criteria including:

  • Industry
  • Parent company
  • Location
  • Year founded
  • Business model
  • Proximity to core
  • Ownership type

It’s the perfect tool when you’re looking for inspiration, want to research new industry trends, or discover new ventures by corporate leaders like Google, Nike, GE, Apple and more. 

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