I am pleased to be here to summarize one of the bank’s most important programs,” said Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) CEO Zion Keinan at the concluding event of the bank and “Globes” smartup2 program in Tel Aviv last week. “We assist many fields that affect our customers, and this program is top tier in terms of its professionalism.”
Keinan added, “The bank is aware that involvement in high-tech industries and rapid and effective implementation of technological innovations are a necessary condition for success. We are busy with technological issues every day. Three weeks ago, Bank Hapoalim’s management met, as it does periodically, but this time it invited top entrepreneurs who have not only affected us until now, but will affect us in the future. The workshop’s subject was pictures from the future.
“Even if we are a banking institution that appears to be in good order structurally and financially, with a 90-year tradition, nonetheless, our management sits and thinks how this banking system will appear in ten years. I can tell you that we heard about interesting companies and we met amazing people. People from Google and eBay were there, who not only spoke, but the place where they can be found today tells us how much the world has changed.”
Commenting on the direction Bank Hapoalim is headed, Keinan said that, as a banking institution, there was no doubt that it would be interesting to see how it would look in ten years, surrounded by active start-ups. He demonstrated the change with a company that underwent a different process, saying, “Look where Nokia was and where it is now.”
Keinan reiterated Bank Hapoalim’s commitment and willingness to join the technology wave, but warned that human contact must not be neglected. “It is clear to us that, sometimes, at a traditional branch, human contact is critical for communicating with a customer. That is as clear as daylight to me. Technology will be there and it will be completely different from what it is now. The customer will be able to carry out transactions via an iPhone and other devices that will emerge,” he said.
At a recent World Bank conference that he and Bank Hapoalim chairman Yair Seroussi attended, Keinan said, “We met heads of all the banks. After all, among the big banks, some have survived in the past few years and others have vanished. All of them told us about the vast sums that they are currently investing in software and technology.
“There is no question that digital services are becoming critical in the world. True, I am putting the spotlight on the banking system, but this is also true in other industries. The world has changed and will change in the future. It’s obvious to me that those who do not march forward will lag behind, just as has already happened to conglomerates and to banks. Bank Hapoalim has inscribed on its flag not just service, but also business technology leadership, which is why it puts emphasis on future platforms.”
Keinan continued, “The need for the smartup program is derived from this understanding. We are marking the concluding event, but it is clear to us that there will be more events down the road, and we will continue to closely follow the companies. This program is not over as far as we are concerned.”
As for Israel’s potential, Keinan said, “We are the start-up nation and it is real. This was even mentioned when we were in Washington. Israel’s name goes before it. Israeli high tech is based on human capital, daring, and a society that encourages innovation and creativity. These are critical things for continued leadership in Israel. But we must not rest on our laurels.
“High tech is an engine, but to keep going it must be taken care of. There is no question that investment in education and research is critical, both for the government and for the financial and communications system, which must encourage the sector in the future. That is why I am proud of our collaboration in this program.
Keinan concluded by praising all of the smartup2 winners for their initiative, concept, and discovery of the need. “All of these ideas make our lives easier and more pleasant. For that, I congratulate the entrepreneurs who led these three applications.”
He said that Bank Hapoalim had established a special network for entrepreneurship and appointed Yossi Vinitski as head of high tech. “There is no doubt,” Keinan told the entrepreneurs, “your success is our success.”
Smartup was a real springboard
In the final session of the Smartup2 program’s concluding event, the entrepreneurs of three winning start-ups came to the stage where they presented their companies and talked about the great contribution of the technology incubators which advised them. Each entrepreneur was allotted five minutes to speak.
HopOn Ltd. CTO Itzik Mizrahi showed a video clip about the idea behind the app, how simple and useful it is, as well as how efficient. HopOn is a mobile platform for paying bus fares, especially by saving time and reducing lines. The entrepreneurs were assisted by 8200 EISP, which they thanked for its help.
GreenIQ Ltd. founder and CEO Odi Dahan presented the company’s app for controlling and managing garden irrigation system to save water and money. Explore.Dream.Discover advised the company.
“The real jump forward came when we spoke with them about how to differentiate our product from our competitors, how to go to market, and, in general, which markets to target,” said Dahan.
Zeekit CEO Yael Wiesel presented the company’s app for the virtual measuring of clothes while staying at home. The app analyzes the user’s picture to fit the apparel in accordance with the measurements, as well as the conditions and character of the weave. “Shopoholics will be addicted, and people who hate shopping will simply use the app to buy,” she said. Nielsen Innovate, run by CEO Esther Barak-Landes, advised the company.
Wiesel said that, today, after receiving offers from ASOS.com and eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY), the advice was right and should continue.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 2, 2014
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