How Capital One Labs is Bringing Humanity Back to Banking

October 24, 2017

9:20 am

At a recent fintech panel I attended, one of the speakers joked about kids today not knowing how to write a check. And why would they, everything they pay for is through their mobile devices. This is just one example of the generational changes happening in fintech. For corporations in the fintech industry, they are consistently looking for new technology and methods to reach a broader audience and find ways to transact with a higher level of security.

On the customer side, the user experience and security is critical to the adoption of new platforms from their banking institutions. If the interface sucks, the level of trust is going to go down and the tech savvy customer is going to move on to another product or company. Companies need to compete with a product that has an intuitive interface to help customers transfer cash and pay for bills with ease, as well as, seamlessly integrate with 3rd party platforms for point-of-sale and provide a military-grade security.

Steve Strauch, Vice President of Digital Product at Capital One, talked with me about the future of fintech and innovation happening at Capital One Labs. Their incubator and accelerator lab is focused on startups shifting the mobile consumer banking experience. Their emerging products use rapid technology advances such as machine learning, social commerce, blockchain and intelligent virtual assistants to stay ahead of the competition and appeal to the digital savvy consumer.

The Capital One Labs currently has three locations: Washington, DC Lab right outside the District in Arlington, Virginia that was recently named a top place to work by employees. The NY Lab in Manhattan’s hotbed for tech, the Flatiron District, and SF Lab is located at the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District.

What are the main issues fintech is facing today and into the future

Customers want the best UX, effortless interactions, and 24/7 fraud protection all while craving up-to-the-second updates of the latest digital products and services. At Capital One, we take a technology-forward approach to elevate the overarching customer experience, building trust and changing the ways people interact with their money every day.

Talk about the culture at Capital One Labs

Our customers are the reason behind of every innovation developed in the Labs. As a result, we challenge ourselves to start with the human problems and work backward to solve them. However, that’s easier said than done. Innovation starts with ideas, and at Capital One Labs we strive for openness and mutual respect. Our teams drive to elevate and push boundaries while fostering an environment of trust and admiration for each other. No idea is too small. We have a saying here at the Labs, “We think big, start small, and learn fast.” As a part of this mantra, we ensure that all of the work we do is valuable, even if we fail. Many people don’t realize that Capital One is founder-led, so it’s natural that we fully embrace an entrepreneurial spirit.

Talk about the focus on diversity and inclusion at Capital One Labs

Capital One, including our Labs, is committed to creating the space where all of our associates feel like they belong and that their voice matters. By being fully inclusive, we remove barriers that prevent associates from sharing that seemingly crazy idea or speaking up when they disagree – and that empowers our teams to be truly great. If everyone thinks, looks, and acts the same, that’s what your products are going to be: the same. At Capital One, we’re striving every day to create breakthrough products for our customers and push the boundaries of what’s possible with tech. Diversity is an imperative to achieving that goal.

Our Labs teams are really engaged in Capital One’s Women in Tech (WIT) initiative. We have 9 WIT chapters across the company and host events focused on ongoing skill building, leadership training, community outreach, and networking. Our external events like Capital One’s sponsorship of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing or hosting WIT Demo Days in the Labs are phenomenal, but I see so much value from this program internally as well. It not only elevates our women technologists in the Labs and across the company, but it informs and empowers men to be better allies to their peers – a crucial aspect of the success of the entire tech industry being truly inclusive.

We are committed to supporting the career development of women in tech roles and improving the representation of women in the technology field. We look to hire people aligned with our culture that values diversity, equality, and inclusion at the center.

What are the next steps for Capital One Labs?

As a company, we’re looking beyond today, and always innovating for the future, but not just for innovation’s sake – for the benefit of our customers. We built the framework of the Capital One Labs on this idea, providing an incubator and accelerator space for our talented associates to experiment with new products and technologies. At the end of the day, we’re aiming to bring ingenuity, simplicity and humanity back to banking, and to ultimately meet our customers where they are digitally.

The article was brought to you in partnership with Arlington Economic Development. Learn more about startups emerging out of Arlington at TechCo.

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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.

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