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KAS Lab Celebrates its 1st Birthday: Innovation is something we do together!

KAS BANK is the oldest start-up in the Netherlands. Ever since it was founded in 1806, the bank has been continuously responding to trends in the financial sector to add value for its customers. Where KAS BANK was first known as a cashiers company, its business model has been adapted to the custody of securities, becoming a custodian, and we are now entering the transformation to a world with digital assets.

14 Nov 2018

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Our first year, and we already accomplished quite a lot! Our clients are happy with the results as well.

Technological developments are always creating new opportunities. We design, develop and test innovative solutions within the KAS Lab. Modern technologies are used to come up with solutions to problems that customers are currently experiencing. Customers are extremely important in the entire process, they are ultimately the target group. Their input and feedback is therefore essential for us.

How Do we Manage our Innovation Process?

One link in the innovation chain does not yet provide a solid chain. You must work together to get ahead. KAS Lab works closely with many customers of the bank, and seeks collaborations with FinTechs, startups and universities. We believe that by learning quickly, you can make the difference. And learning quickly is best done by working together. Do not fall into the same pitfalls that others have ended up in before. Do not reinvent the wheel again. Make use of the network as well as all the enthusiasts who want to cooperate.

Agile method: Realizing a product in four phases In KAS Lab we use the lean startup method, in which we distinguish the Scan, Test, Build and Growth phase. In the Scan phase we come together with our customers, discovering the root of their problem.

In the Test phase we come up with a solution to the problem, for which you make a prototype. We then test this prototype with our customers. Because you want to ensure that the solution is also the perfect solution for your customer.

After the prototype has been improved several times, we will start the Build phase. Now we’ll work on a product / service that meets the basic requirements of a product.

The scale up of the product takes place in the Growth phase. After the Build phase, the KAS Lab initiative starts to grow further within KAS BANK or as an independent start-up.

The Status of KAS Lab's Initiatives

We are now working on four initiatives but have also stopped three initiatives in the past year. We find that stopping an initiative is also a success in itself. Because we prevent the waste of money, time and energy in a product that no one is waiting for. I have noticed that this is not familiar mindset outside the world of innovation. Most believe success is only when a product reaches the finish line.

One of our four initiatives, the Regulatory Data Exchange, is about using our data sources, creating smart calculations and processing this into a client-specific financial documents. These documents must be published to inform the customers of our customers. With this initiative we unburden our customers so that they can spend their time on what they are best at.

TOKAS is another initiative, in which we use blockchain technology to make the process surrounding transactions in non-listed funds more efficient. This results in a cost saving of 70%, which can fully benefit the return for investment funds and the investor.

Our innovations are created with the mission: making prosperity possible for future generations.

Lessons learned

So far I have covered how we work and what we’re working on, but as the Innovation Lead, what can I share about what we’ve learned in this first year? My Top 5:

  1. Build a Multidisciplinary Team

To think out-of-the-box, you need people with different expertise. Entrepreneurs who dare to ask the 'why-question' several times may not be your best friend at the time, but you're going to think better about how it all really works.

  1. Support from the Top is Essential

The ROI of Innovation is not often seen the next day. So the communication about the need for innovation starts at the top of the company. Their support and confidence is needed to able to further experimentation.

  1. Work in a Free Environment

KAS Lab has a separate space within the organisation, where the ceiling has been removed and the furniture is completely different than in the rest of the building. Here you get the idea that you are somewhere else. Location is often heavily underestimated.

  1. Making Mistakes is Allowed

If you are not allowed to make mistakes, you are not going to innovate. Not every idea will bring you a feasible product, that is part of the game. But just by trying something, not following the usual path, we’ve come to discover things things that we didn't set out to find.

  1. Just do it!

If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten. Innovation is exciting and unpredictable, and it is human to find it uncomfortable and risky. So my advice, sometimes it’s better: to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.

Conclusion

One year KAS Lab has brought us a lot. An energetic, physical place within KAS BANK where we work with the right focus on important new innovations for customers of KAS BANK. I am more than surprised by the number of initiatives that have emerged from the Lab after one year. I’m also very enthusiastic about the active collaboration that this come from inside and outside our organisation. With great enthusiasm I look forward to the second year of the KAS Lab.

Stay connected, we keep you up-to-date

Otto Hulst

Interested? I'd be happy to share more!

Otto Hulst

Innovation Lead KAS Lab
+31 (0)20 - 557 2537