UBS, the first global bank to create an innovation lab at Level39, to focus on Blockchain and FinTech Innovations

Leading global wealth manager to continue to embrace disruptive digital innovation.

Leading global wealth manager UBS has selected HighGrowth:42 of Canary Wharf Group’s technology accelerator space, Level39, to house their new innovation lab. The lab will be led by a team of financial technology specialists looking at how UBS can further foster innovation as a key driver for business growth. Among other initiatives, UBS will investigate Blockchain and other Distributed Ledger technologies along with Smart Contracts and work on potential new applications in its lab. These technologies have the potential to enable participants to share financial transactions on a common public ledger and therefore enhance transparency and trust while significantly reducing transaction and processing cost. They have the potential to trigger far-reaching changes in banking processes.

By creating a dedicated lab for FinTech innovation at Level39 – Europe’s largest technology accelerator for the financial, cyber, retail and smart cities technologies – UBS will explore new technologies in partnership with others and will be fully involved in the innovation ecosystem. UBS has extensive industry expertise to offer the community and can partner with FinTech companies to analyse and develop potential applications for the industry.

A recent report by Accenture on the FinTech industry found that the total amount invested in the sector rose from just over $4bn in 2013 to more than $12bn last year, Europe being the fastest growing region in the world.*

The UBS innovation lab will enable the team to work alongside other experts and innovators tackling industry-wide challenges such as the management of complex data and risk assessment in volatile markets. UBS is involved in several FinTech accelerator programmes and a dedicated lab will enable the bank to further embrace the working practices of start-up and larger digital firms. The open environment at Level39 will enable UBS to explore, test and develop new ideas in an optimised environment for innovation.

Eric Van der Kleij, Head of Level39, Canary Wharf Group, said: “The UBS team have already established their credentials at Level39 over the last two years through mentoring alongside other leading experts at various accelerator programmes.  Oliver Bussmann’s bold public statements and vision about the future of finance show that UBS is an organisation that is genuinely determined to transform and thrive in a new world of finance.

UBS understands that being part of the Level39 community is about becoming an even more relevant voice in the industry, as well as learning from up-and-coming talent and in that sense, there are clear parallels between this programme and other Level39 initiatives such as IBM’s Bluemix Garage, the part of IBM that is driving transformation through the business.”

Oliver Bussmann, Group CIO, UBS, said: “We are excited to be the first global bank to be part of the innovation ecosystem at Level39, Europe’s largest FinTech incubator and accelerator space. By establishing a dedicated innovation lab at Level 39 we are moving away from a purely in-house innovation strategy, optimising collaboration opportunities with the growing FinTech business, start-up and investor community in an open and transparent way.  Our innovation lab at Level39 will provide a unique platform to explore emerging technologies such as Blockchain and crypto-currencies, and to understand the potential impact for the industry”

Julie Lake, Co-Founder of The FinTech50 / FinTechCity, said: “It is always good news to see a global bank take a purposeful step outside of its traditional environment to work with – and learn from – the innovators who are helping to transform financial services. UBS is already visibly engaged with the FinTech sector through The FinTech50 and an acknowledged leader in digitalising its core businesses and developing award winning innovations. We look forward to the new UBS initiatives in Level39 delivering value both for the bank and for its future technology partners.”

*The Future of FinTech and Banking 2015, Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab London: link.


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