The technological arms race within the banking industry is an ongoing matter as traditional financial institutions increasingly find themselves needing to keep up with consumer demand for online banking services. Direct investments in fintechs and in-house accelerators are becoming common among the big banks as they grapple with the innovator’s dilemma of either supporting the development of technologies that could be integrated, or developing a competitive offensive strategy to stave off challengers in the financial space. The latest major bank to adopt the trend of creating a fintech investment program is Truist Financial Corporation.
Truist Ventures is the new corporate venture capital division created via the integration of two technology investments companies: the heritage SunTrust brand with BB&T Ventures. Truist, the sixth largest bank in the U.S., is creating its venture capital division to invest in and gain better access to technologies that improve the bank’s existing services, seeking to deliver a new human touch point to consumers via digital products. The bank shared that it will be seeking to invest in disruptive technologies, and in particular, companies that have the potential to redefine financial services while improving financial outcomes for Truist clients.
Speaking of this new division, Donta Wilson, Chief Digital and Client Experience Officer said, “Strategic partnerships and investments in innovative founders and companies help Truist deliver on our differentiating strategy of combining the right mix of human touch and technology to create experiences that help our clients, teammates and communities thrive.”
To lead Truist Ventures, the bank has appointed industry veteran Vanessa Indriolo Vreeland, who offers 20 years of experience in private equity, venture capital, and banking experience. Of Truist Ventures, Vreeland shared, “We’re nimble enough to deliver meaningful access to the deep domain expertise from our extensive network of teams across technology, investment banking, capital markets and innovation. We work closely with the companies in which we invest, leveraging our executive-level talent and industry experts to help them grow.”
The newly established firm’s first undertaking was in leading the most recent $31 million funding round for global payments network Veem. Veem is a San-Francisco based start-up known for solving a critical pain point for small-medium businesses with a technology system that allows seamless international payments. Veem shared that the funding will be allocated towards the development of partner channel programs that will expand their global reach and further strengthen their product offering.