South Africa’s Standard Bank is offering fintech entrepreneurs the chance to win ZAR500,000 (US$34,747) in prizes and business support at its Pathfinders Challenge finals, to be hosted this week under the bank’s “Innovation Week” initiative.
Standard Bank said in acknowledgment of the important role of entrepreneurs and innovators in “the race to remain relevant”, it is hosting an Innovation Week, from November 18 to 20 in Johannesburg.
The annual event is intended as an opportunity for innovators, investors, entrepreneurs and fintech players to participate in an open platform, network, and showcase the ways in which they are contributing to digital disruption in financial services.
The initiative includes the Pathfinders Challenge, which asks innovators from across the world to help solve for the role of financial services in emerging industries like robotics, artificial intelligence, and agri-tech.
20 finalists will compete on Friday for their share of ZAR500,000 (US$34,747) worth of cash prizes, development and business support, coaching and mentoring, and the opportunity to commercialise and scale their solutions with help from Standard Bank.
“In order to deliver innovations that meet [our definition of innovation]and thereby genuinely enable our clients’ lives and businesses, we’ve adopted an open innovation strategy. This means we believe in the power of partnerships and what’s unattainable alone,” said Paul Steenkamp, innovation capability executive at Standard Bank.
The week culminates with Standard Bank’s Incremental Innovations Awards, rewarding employees who have implemented small improvements or upgrades made to the bank’s existing products, services, processes or methods.
Steenkamp said the top entries have contributed to a total business benefit of ZAR170 million (US$11,813,420).
Finalists at the awards will battle it out in front a jury and live audience of their peers, for a share of ZAR1 million (US$69,490) worth of prizes.
“Innovation Week, Pathfinders and our Incremental Innovation Awards are just some of the ways in which Standard Bank is increasingly becoming a learning organisation, one that is committed to exploring, iterating and experimenting,” said Steenkamp.