CEE22: KB SmartSolutions enjoys working with startups

Komerční banka, one of the biggest and most important banking institutions in the Czech Republic, has one mission: to build, together with its customers, a better and sustainable future through responsible and innovative financial solutions. One of the goals within its mission is to be a digital leader in a new era of banking with 2 million customers and to become the Bank with the largest impact on the market sustainability. A great and noble mission that includes various tasks and steps that need to be done. How Komerční banka plans to get there?

KB SmartSolutions was created 3 years ago to help the Bank build a compact ecosystem of services that is completely digital and user-friendly. We can simply say that KB SmartSolutions is a bridge between Komerční banka – a bank with a long tradition, and young dynamic start-ups and fintechs.

Its primary goal is to find fintechs and startups on the market with neat and smart solutions. Such a solution shall fit into the overall strategy of the Bank – i.e., it fits into the segment that already is or could be further developed by the Bank. At the same time, this solution should meet a certain needs of the customers and thus gradually help to complete the whole ecosystem of services. The goal of the Bank of the future is to provide the customers with everything they need and to manage not only their finance but everything they shall need at some point in their lives – all in one place.

KB SmartSolutions believes that the connection between the Bank and fintech is a logical step, and the creation of symbiosis is a win-win situation for both parties. Although these parties seem to be different from each other, their existing partnerships are living proof that they can work.

How to get the instinct of constant improvement and innovation into customers` blood?

Bringing together seemingly different entities, such as a large corporation and a small start-up, is indeed a significant trend in recent years. KB SmartSolutions needs to have an instinct to constantly innovate. It is important to realize where is the market heading – and not just the local one. The origin of this trend is probably the effort of large corporations to learn from their own experience. They are fully aware that they are not able to change everything from the inside. And this is exactly why they need start-ups – capable of development in the short term, and adaptation to constant changes.

Komerční banka is not a mere investor

The process of finding a suitable partner for the Bank takes sometimes even several months. It is not always easy to find a match as there are plenty of variables that change over time. KB SmartSolutions regularly talks to people from the Bank and asks them what they lack to be able to solve the various needs of customers. KB SmartSolutions focuses both on relatively established companies that already have the second generation of their product on the market, and on companies that are a little younger, but already at the beginning of the growth phase. 

There are undeniable benefits for the Bank from this merger. These include a fresh and creative view on things, a broader scope, and speed in developing an original solution thanks to the lack of binding corporate rules and regulations. As mentioned, for large corporations, this is a way to innovate systematically. They have a common goal, which is that our strengths complement each other. There are several advantages for fintechs as well: the banking know-how, the resources, customer databases, a wide distribution network, but also managerial experience. It is one thing to build a smart, pro-customer solution, but a completely different craft is to build and run an entire business. And, for example, KB SmartSolutions helps build operations, interconnect IT systems, devise distribution and sales funnel management, negotiate with suppliers, solve security, manage the company economically, etc. KB SmartSolutions can offer a lot of specific expertise – for example, in the field of international payments, risk scoring, etc.

The KB SmartSolutions team

There are officially nine members who are in the core KBSS team. However, the Team works using a double identity and considers itself both part of the KBSS and part of the KB. The wider team consists of several people from the KB, with whom the above members can cooperate daily and move the cooperation forward.

The KB SmartSolutions’ partnerships

KB SmartSolutions is looking for dynamic, creative, skilled, open, and courageous partners who want to go head-to-head, aim for growth and expansion, and at the same time want to help to build the Bank of the future. There are many possibilities for cooperation, and it depends only on the mutual agreement of both parties. The imaginary highest form of cooperation, when KB SmartSolutions is involved in the daily operation of fintech, is KB’s equity entry into it. Examples are UpvestRoger, and Lemonero. Finbricks and KB Advisory are also successful fintech, but unlike the first three, they were originally created internally. On the opposite side of the cooperation curve is then purely distribution cooperation.


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Source: The article by KB SmartSolutions