Interview

Interview with Claire Calmejane, CIO at Société Générale, about the bank's innovation strategies and agenda

Friday 20 March 2020 09:19 CET | Editor: Claudia Pincovski | Interview

Claire Calmejane, Société Générale: 'We are constantly looking to partner with startups that bring disruptive solutions to the financial sector and help us innovate and tackle new digital challenges'

Could you please tell us more about your professional background and what are you most passionate about when it comes to the position you occupy at Société Générale?

An IT Engineer with a degree from the École pour l'informatique et les techniques avancées (EPITA) and a Master`s degree from the HEC French school of management, I have developed solid experience in the fields of new technologies and digital transformation of financial services, particularly at Capgemini Consulting and at Lloyds Banking Group.

In September 2018, I joined Société Générale as Group Chief Innovation Officer. In line with Société Générale’s digital transformation strategies, my mission is to foster innovation and identify new business developments and services for our customers. I am in charge of driving the venturing efforts in internal and external startups, identifying relevant market trends, developing partnerships with the external ecosystem, harnessing disruptive innovations and emerging technologies.

What are the collaborations with fintechs focused on?

First, the main objectives of the Société Générale Group innovation team are to monitor the digital ecosystem and to identify and connect ecosystem players with the needs of the bank's business lines.

The innovation team identifies potential business cases, mostly in the B2B space, and sets up cooperation initiatives with the business lines, while launching proof-of-concepts (POCs) and creating commercial and strategic partnerships. Over the last 6 months, 600 startups have been identified, 170 qualification meetings organised, and 50 pitches presented to the business units teams.

Several experimental projects are already underway at the bank's operational entities. More than 250 POCs are in progress, focusing on topics such as fraud detection, biometrics, services to SMEs, aggregation, Open Banking, payments, ecommerce, insurtech, cybersecurity, regtech, blockchain, crypto assets, wealth management.

As open innovation is a key factor to transform the banking industry and launch new products and services and increase operational efficency, we are constantly looking to partner with startups that bring disruptive solutions to the financial sector and help us innovate and tackle new challenges.

We also have a leading position in Open Banking. Thanks to the expertise of Fiduceo (fintech acquired in 2015), we were able to develop an account aggregator firstly for the clients of Boursorama (the online banking leader in France, in its three main activities: online banking, online brokerage and Internet financial information), and then for those of Crédit du Nord and Société Générale (the Group’s 2 other retail brands in France). In Romania and Czech Republic we developed offers for Open Banking, in the Czech Republic we launched an open portal where we welcome startups to distribute APIs.

Furthermore, we acquire startups. We have seen a multitude of partnerships, investments, experiments and exchanges, even beyond the borders of France.

In 2015, Société Générale’s subsidiary Boursorama announced the acquisition of Fiduceo, a French online personal finance management company.

In 2018, Société Générale acquired French fintech startup, Treezor. The acquisition comes just a few months after Société Générale acquired Lumo, the crowdfunding platform dedicated to renewable energies.

Treezor is opening a second office in Rennes, France. The company plans to recruit a dozen developers there by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, the fintech also confirms its desire to expand internationally and Italy and Spain are the first targeted countries, before Belgium and Germany. This is part of its development strategy, which capitalise on Société Générale Group’s international network.

Lastly, the bank is also making strategic investments in and is collaborating with fintechs through SG Ventures, our 150 million fund, exploring innovative technologies, products and services that provide benefits for the banks’s customers in the future, connecting digital ecosystem players and the bank's business units needs.

Can you share with us a couple of initiatives that occupy Société Générale’ innovation agenda right now and in the near future?

In both retail and corporate, the focus is on growing and investing heavily in technology.

This year, specifically, we look at conversion and being digital in all areas. Boursorama, for instance, our online bank, reports attracting a new customer every 50 seconds and now has more than 2 million customers.

We will also continue focus on capitalizing on our Internal Startup Call, an intrapreneurship programme launched in November 2017, which is aimed at enabling disruptive internal intrapreneurial projects and launching services and projects that go beyond traditional banking services. Following a selection phase, 60 internal startups have been accelerated during 6 months in France and abroad.

How do you expect the banking industry will change in 2020?

I believe that 2020 will see continuous technology investment, digitalisation and partnerships aimed at cost reduction and improving and simplifying the customer experience.

Another thing to watch is the digitalization of the back-end, specifically in risk, compliance, finance and payments, and removing all the friction from the payments system and the bank’s operating model.

About Claire Calmejane

Claire Calmejane is Group Chief Innovation Officer. She began her career in 2006 in the Technology Transformation department of Capgemini Consulting, where she supported companies and especially financial institutions in their technological and digital transformation. Contributing to a study on the digital transformation of large companies led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011, she joined the London office of Capgemini to lead the digital centre of the Financial Services sector. Recruited in 2012 by Lloyds Banking Group as Head of Digital Delivery in the Online Services Department, she was appointed Innovation Director and set up the Innovation Labs and the Digital Academy before being appointed Risk.

About Société Générale

Société Générale is one of the leading European financial services groups. Based on a diversified and integrated banking model, the Group combines financial strength and proven expertise in innovation with a strategy of sustainable growth.  The Group’s mission is to empower each and everyone who wants to have a positive impact on the future and has defined its purpose as “Building a better future through responsible and innovative financial solutions”. Active in the real economy for over 150 years, with a solid position in Europe and connected to the rest of the world, Société Générale has over 149,000 members of staff in 67 countries and supports on a daily basis 31 million individual clients, businesses and institutional investors around the world by offering a wide range of advisory services and tailored financial solutions. 


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Keywords: Claire Calmejane, Société Générale, startups, digital, Lloyds Banking Group, innovations, emerging technologies, B2B, POCs, SMEs, aggregation, Open Banking, payments, ecommerce, insurtech, regtech, fintech, online banking, bankig, digitalization
Categories: Banking & Fintech | Payments General
Countries: France
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Banking & Fintech






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