Starting today, Wells Fargo has opened its own startup accelerator program, aiming to provide financing and consultation to selected fintech startup companies. All startups which are focused on creating solutions for financial institutions or enterprise customers can apply until October 1st, 2014.
Applications will be accepted twice a year, with firms coming to a decision within the span of a few weeks. Funding which may be provided for the applicants ranges between $50,000 and $500,000, and comes in exchange for a minority stake in the company.
According to the program, up to 20 startups will be selected for funding by the team behind the decision-making process at Wells Fargo’s Startup Accelerator, consisting of various professionals focusing on different areas of several senior executives at the bank. Other major financial institutions which have looked to setup similar accelerator programs include Barclays, MasterCard and Lloyds.
The Team Assessing the Candidates
Wells Fargo has selected six senior executives from its ranks to assess the fintech candidates for funding in the areas of payments, deposits, fraud, operations and other financial services.
Steve Ellis is Executive Vice President and Head of Wells Fargo Wholesale Services with expertise in commercial loan services, customer analytics, risk management and mobile and social media strategies.
Vas Kodali is Senior Vice President and Head of Tech Industry Partnership Development at the bank. He heads a team which is responsible for relationships with IT industry leaders, universities, venture capital companies and private equity firms.
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Braden More is a Senior Vice President, who is also Head of Enterprise Payment Strategy at the bank and coordinates payment strategy and represents Wells Fargo in the payment industry.
The Co-Head of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking’s Technology and Executive Vice President, Puon Penn, provides his expertise as a leader of a team which is on the lookout for new technologies and business models aiming to solve complex global problems such as population growth and climate change.
Following is Brett Pitts, who is Executive Vice President at Wells Fargo and leads product management for the Digital Channels Corp., providing his experience with product development and platform management across multiple digital media.
Completing the team is Bipin Sahni, who is a Senior Vice President at the bank and Head of Innovation, Research and Development. The team he leads is responsible for future technologies and the vision of customer interactions, mobile solutions and payments, as well as authentication solutions.
It’s Been a Long Time Coming
Some startup companies have already been picked for Wells Fargo’s first accelerator program. Kansas City-based EyeVerify, which is behind EyePrint ID – a digital key using retina scans, and Kasisto – a New York-based artificial intelligence firm are among them, according to TechCrunch.
With competition intensifying within the traditional banking industry, from companies which are slowly stirring up a previously unchallenged environment, this endeavor has been a long time coming for major banks. Financial institutions might never have brought the 2008 financial crisis upon us if the major banks had focused their efforts on investing in real value innovation generating real assets, instead of synthetic financial instruments with dubious returns.