BBVA has announced the opening of its seventh global start-up competition, BBVA Open Talent 2015, which specializes in the financial technology sector or “FinTech.” The competition will focus on innovative start-ups that are transforming financial services or those that are related to e-commerce, user experience, big data, etc. BBVA will award €30,000 in prize money to each of the six winners and offer them a two-week immersion program where they will network with BBVA experts and industry professionals in London and Mexico.
BBVA Open Talent has proven to be a catalyst for participating start-ups. Last year, Socure, an online security company, raised $4.7 million from a round of financing right after winning the US edition of the contest. Kantox, a foreign exchange platform who were the finalists of 2013, closed a 6.4-million-dollar round of financing and that year’s winner, Traity, an online reputation company, raised $5 million.
“Interacting with innovation ecosystems has always been a priority for BBVA, but on this occasion we want BBVA Open Talent to focus on companies and products that can really be applied to the financial services business or those that are related to pioneering products in the development of the group’s new digital services”, said Gustavo Vinacua, Director of Innovation Centers and Open Innovation at BBVA, in an official press release.
BBVA Open Talent forms part of the group’s open innovation strategy through which BBVA collaborates with entrepreneurs, developers and the main players who are changing or influencing the financial industry. These initiatives come on top of the investments made by BBVA Ventures and the group’s M&A activity which have resulted in the acquisition of companies such as Simple, Madiva or Spring Studio.
Collaborating forms part of BBVA’s global strategy to lead the technological transformation of the financial service industry. Earlier this year, BBVA Compass announced an agreement to open its technology platform to payments innovator Dwolla, allowing customers of the bank to use Dwolla’s real time network to make money transfers.
Acquisitions have also been part of the overall strategy of BBVA. Last year, BBVA acquired US digital banking service pioneer Simple and Madiva Soluciones, a Spanish big data start-up. Earlier this year, BBVA acquired Spring Studio for digital banking initiatives.