National Bank of Georgia's Innovation Office: Importance and Need in Georgia’s Financial Sector

Posted on Apr 26, 2024 by Natalia Ivanidze, Manager of Financial Innovation Office, National Bank of Georgia


In an era marked by rapid technological evolution, the financial sector stands at the forefront of unprecedented change. A continuous influx of innovative products based on new technology are reshaping financial services, while the role of new technologies is also increasing across a wide range of other sectors. On the one hand, the growing pace of technology in the financial sector has numerous advantages, manifested by the fact that various products are becoming more user-friendly, simple, cheap, convenient, protected, innovative, and fast. On the other hand, new technology introduces issues related to information security, cyber risks, etc., which pose serious challenges for the regulator.

Typically, regulators use an approach that balances innovation and risk, which is a never-ending challenge. It is also significant that fintech is constantly evolving. The surge of fintech startups, armed with innovative solutions, has challenged the traditional banking system and made it difficult for regulators to mitigate risk while simultaneously promoting innovation. This is a global situation and a global challenge of the 21st century. Therefore, regulators need to be open to innovation to balance the market, which is why the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) created the Financial Innovation Office (FIO).

The FIO serves as a critical, yet often understated, protagonist at the heart of this technological revolution. New entrants in financial services have become indispensable in navigating the complexities of the digital age, fostering a culture of innovation that aligns with regulatory frameworks and market demands. The Innovation Office acts as a bridge between the regulator and the innovation community, helping the innovation community adapt, develop, and refine products by adjusting to complex regulations or to test innovative products in the regulatory sandbox under the supervision of the regulator. Moreover, it helps the regulator understand the new products and deal with challenges and regulations in line with technological advancements.

The Rise of Fintech and the Need for Innovation

The growth of startups in the financial market is an inevitable process. New products are constantly being created and improved. Fintech's ascendance is unmistakable, driven by its ability to offer streamlined, customer-centric services that contrast sharply with the often cumbersome processes of traditional services. The COVID pandemic was another boost for the development of fintechs and digitalization in general, during which even traditional consumers were compelled to use digital financial products and services such as transactions, payments, open banking, various types of solutions based on blockchain technologies, etc. This process further cemented the relationship between consumers and fintechs.

Of course, the previously existing traditional services still have an important place in the financial market, but they are already dealing with quite a lot of competition. As digital natives demand more personalized and efficient banking experiences, financial institutions are compelled to adapt. Based on this process, the consumer anticipates continuous developments in fintech, which will offer them new opportunities, such as more user-friendly, simpler, cheaper, and faster services. As the demand increases, it is not surprising that the supply also increases, which is why this process is inevitable.

In order for the consumer to be protected and fintech to be in compliance with the regulator’s requirements, and at the same time for the regulator to be the guarantor of the above, the FIO is the best solution. Innovation Offices play a crucial role, bridging ...

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