Video stores and Walkmans; steam trains and Polaroid cameras – all products that dominated their eras, now consigned to the dustpan of history.
“Many companies became reliant on a single product or service,” says BPAY Group Chief Executive John Banfield. “We didn't want to become the next company that missed great innovation opportunities because of our focus on one main revenue generating product – so we looked hard at our options.”
BPAY Group is one of the most reliable and trusted names in financial services – Australians send more than $1.3 billion in transactions through the BPAY billing service every day – but it also has a unique position.
The four major banks will provide support and also a potential market for new products, making the innovation pathway all the more compelling.
"The concept of an ‘unfair advantage’ was key: what's unique about the organisation?” says BPAY Group chairperson Chris Campbell, who is also Westpac’s Head of Payments Policy and Strategy.
“We've got a reputation that is trustworthy, well-known, and a great relationship with four of the biggest companies in Australia. We probably weren’t considered particularly innovative, but John and the management team have changed that.”
It has not been an easy task but it is already beginning to pay off with multiple new product launches pushing beyond BPAY Group’s traditional payments arena.
Innovation powered by new values
Banfield says replacing a staid, top-down set of corporate values with more empowering principles has been a key driver of the change.
Those values are: Better Together (encouraging teamwork); Think Customer (placing the customer at the forefront); Minds Wide Open (asking questions and embracing change), and Always Step Forward (embracing curiosity and ambition to keep learning and improving).
“You can't create a level of innovation unless you empower people to have some form of autonomy to create based on their own horsepower,” Banfield says of the changes that have reshaped the culture of the two-decade old organisation.
"You then get true buy-in and people attached to the four values we have. That in itself creates a huge amount of momentum that you build your company culture around. We're on a journey – and we've made some huge progress.”
Osko® payments is the first proof point. In just a few short months, it has processed more than 25 million payments worth over $19 billion. It is the first service built on the world-leading New Payments Platform and more than 60 banks and financial institutions will soon start to offer more Osko services.
However, BPAY Group’s next stage of innovation has the potential to reshape the face of the two-decade old organisation.
New companies inject new culture
The organisation has worked closely with BCG Digital Ventures (the innovation, incubation and investment arm of The Boston Consulting Group) to incorporate two separate technology companies, Lodge™ and Sypht™.
Lodge will help self-managed property investors to manage their portfolio through one app rather than ad-hoc solutions such as Excel spreadsheets. Sypht uses artificial intelligence to help other businesses unlock the power of structured and unstructured data.
There are different expectations for those two products when compared to BPAY and Osko but the culture of innovation now stretches across the entire BPAY Group. Banfield says working with external innovation-focused firms such as BCG Digital Ventures helped kick-start the process.
“We put our own people into incubation and immersion teams over several months leading to the creation of Lodge and Sypht – they then brought that knowledge back into the BPAY Group environment. Now we're training people to be more familiar with the human-centred design (HCD) model to strengthen our ability to create innovation within,” Banfield says.
It allows the organisation to move without fear of failure. Banfield points to its recent launch of BPAY BatchMaker, which helps small businesses pay multiple suppliers at the same time using BPAY payments. A team member, provided one small piece of enrolment information was proving a sticking point for users, which he quickly changed through the right empowerment model.
"Being agile, being nimble, being able to look at a friction and solve it immediately, is only possible when you're empowering your people to make the change that they think is right. It leads to a far better customer outcome."
Not every innovation is destined for success but that is an inevitable part of the innovation journey.
“There’s two really important attributes we need to live by: creating an environment where there's no fear of retribution – every idea is a good idea – and listening to understand rather than listening to respond,” Banfield says.
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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