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Innovation LAB – a model for success

New technologies, the transition to a sustainable economy, and other megatrends are putting greater pressure on the financial sector to bring about change. If financial services providers are to remain competitive and meet the needs of increasingly demanding customers, they need to develop innovative products and constantly improve their processes.

The Innovation LAB occupies an important position in the DZ BANK Group as it provides a platform on which innovation can flourish. The lab's employees use a variety of formats to work on trends and technologies. They also develop new products and business models. Since its launch in 2016, the lab has investigated over 200 different ideas, with more than 70 percent subsequently being brought to fruition.

One example is a product and process innovation for capital markets business, the smart derivatives contract (SDC). The SDC is a digital software protocol for the settlement of OTC derivatives. The design of the new process, which can be fully automated, eliminates inefficiencies and contract risks for both counterparties. Making the transaction digital ensures a high degree of transparency. Following a successful proof of concept in 2021, DZ BANK worked together with Union Investment and other partners to turn the SDC protocol into a digital open standard in 2022. The partners also used it in an actual, legally binding transaction, thereby demonstrating that it can be used in practise. The developments that emerge from the Innovation LAB are used for the benefit of the entire cooperative financial network, such as a digital solution for measuring the impacts on the UN sustainable development goals in the business portfolio. In the future, this solution should help the local cooperative banks to meet the growing requirements for transparency with regard to sustainable business.

In 2022, more than 300 employees worked on 27 ideas and formats. The income and cost savings generated so far by implementing these ideas have now reached a seven-digit sum.