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The Innovators 2019: Corporate Finance

Banks tap into technology and social media to satisfy corporate clients, traders and retail customers.

More than a decade since the 2008 financial crisis, alternative sources of corporate finance are thriving, even as many smaller businesses complain that they encounter obstacles in accessing funding from banks. There is also an increasing emphasis on corporates to have robust environmental, social and governmental (ESG) policies as a prerequisite applied by lenders. This year’s Corporate Finance Innovators often use a mix of the latest technology and social media to offer their customers fresh avenues to funding. Government-owned Banco do Brasil, for example, Brazil’s oldest and largest bank by assets, has turned to WhatsApp to improve its relationship with increasingly tech-savvy clients. The bank’s digital financial assistance solution envelops 11 different types of transactions using the messaging tool, including balance inquiries for checking and savings accounts, money transfers, mobile phone top-ups and access to credit-card statements. The phased rollout, which added 500,000 customers each week over several months last year, represents the bank’s pioneering work in South America. Banco do Brasil’s use of emerging technologies follows its first use of artificial intelligence (AI) in 2017. While transactions are powered by AI, end-to-end encryption means that if human intervention is needed, the customer can be directed to an agent.

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