A bank that funds FinTechs, supports them with Business Angels, and then becomes their first customer?

Gokhan Mendi, Vice President of the Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB) explains.

As one of only three bank-backed Angel Investment platforms in the world (and the only one in Turkey), you launched your own Fintech incubation and acceleration programme last year. Could you share your experiences with the world’s Business Angel investment community?

Our unique programme, named Fintech Future Four, aims to support FinTechs while engaging in a solid collaboration commitment with the bank. In that sense, it has distinctive features from the consensus models. The programme offers FinTechs the benefit of our infrastructure and experience; the necessary financial support for their first project – as a grant along with Angel Investment advisory services; and we even become their first customer.

As Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB), we believe that the vision for the future of our industry will be possible only through an innovation model where banks and startups work together. We placed this vision into the center of the project, so it is a deliberate and exact win-win situation.

I would like to go one step back to elaborate on the progressions that lead the Bank to design such an original project without receiving any support from third parties? How did that happen?

Thanks to our experience with the Angel Investor community and players in the innovation ecosystem, we eventually reached a point where we were ready and adequately resourced to design our own programme. What happened was that we became cognitive; as you know a cognitive bank is a bank that really thinks. Every day, financial institutions collect massive volumes of data, but much of it is unstructured, making it invisible to current systems. Banking professionals need technology that not only analyses all of this data, but reasons and learns from it to continuously improve. With cognitive computing, banks can gather deeper insights that will help them make smarter, faster, better informed decisions. We dream to find, learn and integrate those agile technologies that will enable us to stay in the new world, where change is fast and opportunities are enormous.

“With cognitive
computing, banks can
gather deeper insights
that will help them make
smarter, faster, better
informed decisions.”

Especially interesting is the programme outcome and the detailed story behind it, as this might be useful for institutions seeking alternative startup collaboration models and innovation programmes. How can we learn more about the programme?

We wrote a white paper about the programme, the full story and rationale behind it, as well as real testimonials from our finalists. This is just to share our experience, not to try outsmart anyone. We can see many successful examples in the industry and around the world. This is our story with its own good insights. The report will be distributed at the WBAF Summit 2018.

I believe the second batch of the programme is beginning soon.

Is there anything different this time?

Yes, based on the first year of experience, we decided that this kind of programme should not be designed with money rewards for a specific period of time. The FinTech’s best outcome will be to convince the bank to be their first customer, so we have enriched the model to include more internal collaboration efforts from


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