CBA will have a new standalone tech research and development incubator at its disposal, with Australia’s biggest bank announcing the launch of X15 Ventures – a joint partnership between CommBank, Microsoft, and KPMG.
X15 will provide a new vehicle for the bank to pursue fintech and app development projects unfettered – and, importantly, beyond the machinations of the financial services giant’s internal innovation teams – with the new tech incubator to be supported by CBA’s $1 billion annual technology investment fund.
Already CBA has announced it will back 25 local start-ups through the new venture within the next five years, including the just-released Home-In, a digital home-buying concierge, and Vonto, a business insights aggregation tool, both of which were unveiled on launch day.
While a wholly-owned subsidiary of the big four bank, CBA will be joined in its X15 venture by Microsoft and KPMG, with the tech giant bringing “platform and engineering capability” while KPMG offers its advisory services.
CBA chief executive Matt Comyn said X15 will enable the bank “to innovate more quickly, and continue to offer the best digital experience for our customers” – no doubt avoiding the quagmire of multiple tech teams and byzantine approvals processes that bedevil many in-house innovations at a big four bank.
Newly-appointed Managing Director for X15, Toby Norton-Smith, said the collaborative X15 innovation environment will seek to “nurture and develop” businesses as start-ups “but will have the scale and reach of CBA behind them to achieve rapid growth”.
“X15 allows us to open the door and partner more easily with entrepreneurs than ever before. Under its umbrella, we will create an environment for new businesses to flourish, we’ll empower Australia’s innovators and bring new solutions to market designed to empower customers as never before,” Norton-Smith added.
Microsoft Australia Managing Director Steven Worrall stressed the importance of cross-industry collaboration in driving X15’s innovation mission, and in developing the next generation of financial technologies.
“I believe that the next wave of major technology breakthroughs will come from partnerships such as this, bringing together our deep technical capabilities and absolute clarity about the business challenges that need to be addressed,” he said.