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Elevator Lab: “We have an “ecosystem” to spread innovation”

Tatra Banka operates a fintech accelerator that helps startups with innovative ideas to maximize their potential.

by Alexandra Krchnavá 24.9.2019  |  10 min read Members
Elevator Lab: “We have an “ecosystem” to spread innovation”

At Elevator Lab in HubHub you will find the entire “ecosystem” for startups – innovative technologies, mentoring, exciting events, direct support in the acceleration program, and the restless robot Pepper who is assisting in the Elevator Lab. We asked Michal Satur, Head of Research and Development at Tatra banka, the most important questions about the acceleration program, innovations and the direction of banking.

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Hi Michael, tell us briefly about your work history and your current position

I have been with Tatra banka for almost two years, and as Head of Research & Development I am responsible for innovation at Tatra banka and our “ecosystem” for cooperation with innovative companies – Elevator Lab. Before that, I worked for most of my career in Slovak Telekom, where, among other things, I dealt with corporate strategy and new sources of revenue.

Why was Elevator Lab created and what is its role?

Innovations are part of Tatra banka’s DNA 🙂 and over the last 10 years we have brought unique innovations to the market that no other bank in the whole region has brought to such an extent as we did. However, we have gradually realized that we need to accelerate the pace of delivering innovation to the market, so we have decided to create an “ecosystem” to link innovative ideas to the bank’s business model.

What is your role in this project?

It is an organic connection between a stable corporate sector and a progressive and flexible world of startups. I lead a team that is tasked with scouting ideas and collaborating with innovative companies as well as rapid prototyping, cutting-edge technology analysis and customer surveys.

What challenges does the banking sector face in terms of innovation?

Any innovation must comply with all regulations. Regulation helps clients and the overall health of the banking sector, but on the other hand significantly limits the resources and possibilities that all banks could invest in client solutions. New players are entering the banking market, offering their clients simple services with minimal regulation.

What do you think is the future of banking and what will it look like?

Banking will increasingly resemble other service sectors as clients create expectations not only from experience with other banks, but also from experience in other industries. For example, young people expect that opening a bank account will be no more difficult than setting up an account on Instagram or TikTok.

What does the complete process look like when creating and implementing new ideas?

Innovations can be systematized, so we try to analyze each idea with a single metric, which allows us to compare individual ideas, and then identify client interest, whether from client data or market research. If we prove sufficient problem rate and solvability, we try to create a prototype that we test and iterate with clients. If we have found the right problem and the right solution, we leave the implementation to colleagues who are responsible for the specific area.

Where do you get inspiration?

We try to get inspiration not only in other banking markets, but also in other sectors. We are, of course, limited by law and regulation, but if we see that something works in some industries, we try to at least test it on our clients.


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Today, we pay by mobile watch, etc. Will we pay only by fingerprint or chip in hand in the future?

Personally, I am a fan of chips rather than fingerprints when paying at a retailer. The biggest advantage and at the same time the threat of biometric solutions is that they are unique, but they are not interchangeable. This means that if someone gets a scan of your fingerprints, they can not only abuse it, but your fingers will no longer be a secure identification and authorization element. While I can change the chip under my skin at any time. But this is still a distant future. Even the most recent figures show that mobile or watch payments are still attractive to clients.

Facebook wants to create a new currency, what do you think about that?

There is still a lot of confusion around Libra, but it is an understandable step towards Facebook platforming. The biggest problem, however, remains the mistrust in Facebook, as Facebook has data protection problems every week.

Do you love technology innovations also in private, or do you prefer traditional things there?

I love to test something new and I am an ambassador for almost anything new, but I also love the mechanical things I can disassemble and assemble, as technological innovations are often a “black box” from the user’s point of view. Humanity has done incredible things even before mobile phones, so I feel a great deal of respect for traditional technologies. Technological innovations make life easier for us, but as Dr. Jan Martin Stránský said: “It is not the right question whether computers will think like humans, but whether people will think differently than computers.” I have a four-year-old son who does not have a tablet, spends no time on YouTube, and I am fascinated every day by how greatly he can entertain himself, and I am all the more sorry to see younger children who refuse to eat without a tablet cannot focus properly for even a moment.


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What does your working day look like?

I sit in HubHub, where I arrive before 8 am and I try to prepare for the different parts of the day immediately after my arrival. Until 9 am HubHub is relatively quiet, so this time is very effective. The rest of the day is mainly filled with meetings. I meet mainly with potential partners, deal with possibilities of cooperation, and meet colleagues from other departments in the bank to better understand their needs and problems. And I try to spend a lot of time with the team, whether we are dealing with specific topics or sitting individually and discussing tasks and looking for solutions. I leave work mostly after five to spend time with my son.

Do you have any tips and tricks on how to work effectively?

It helps overall efficiency if one finds what suits him, does not disturb him, and at the same time allows him to focus on the task and not on the things around. I like functional things and I like order in them, so I never waste my time searching, and overall I try not to waste time with things that consume time but do not add crucial value. I admire many geniuses who have not wasted time with petty things, such as the daily choice of clothing or the right shade of a belt.

I think efficiency with every bigger task can be helped if I answer a few questions at the beginning, such as what is the goal?, Who should benefit from it?, What are the conditions?, What can I influence? Makes sense to change anything?

Tell us where you spend most of your time in HubHub?

Probably in our office at the end of the hall and in the meeting rooms. I love the community kitchen, but it is harder to concentrate there, as there are always many nice people I like to interact with.

Which is the best place to focus when you work?

My brain works very well by routine activities such as driving or taking a shower, but making notes is difficult there. 🙂

An ideal place for meetings?

I always give the other party a preference, I am used to meeting anywhere and anytime.

Any favourite restaurant nearby?

I like healthy and delicious meals, on the other hand I try to be time efficient, so I especially like Mondieau and Poké bar.

Thank you for the interview!

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