Banking is at a crossroads, says the head of innovation at Bank of Ireland, David Tighe. The bank is embracing new fintech technologies from local firms as well as providing Work Benches around the country for start-ups and a new StartLab incubator in Galway city.

“There is a massive change going on in financial services at the moment,” says Tighe.

Consumers and businesses, increasingly including digital natives who have never known a life without mobile devices or the internet, are demanding new ways to bank.

Not only this, but the bank wants to be the start-ups’ bank and, as well as investing in young companies through partnerships with Delta Partners and Kernel Capital, has been providing critical infrastructure such as incubators and Work Benches in various branches around the country.

The most recent investment was a new Start Lab in Galway city, which will incubate start-ups over a six month period.

“It is really about giving start-ups the space and the freedom to experiment,” Tighe says, pointing to the need to also foster a start-up community by creating spaces where start-ups can collaborate.

He said the bank is looking at new models that are already being embraced by emerging businesses, including crowdfunding, and enabling a cashless society ahead of platforms and services like Apple Pay eventually going mainstream.

Words by John Kennedy